Freedom in the Best of All Possible Worlds

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Abstract

The Early Modern thinkers, Leibniz and Voltaire, covered a substantial range of academic disciplines, and explored to equal measure the defining features of human life, one area of enquiry, however, found them in disagreement more - Human Freedom. Leibniz and Voltaire didn’t disagree in just their opinions on Freedom as a concept, but there was serious conflict in their methods and use of academic Freedom in how they approached and presented their work. Leibniz believed that reason could be unchained from faith, and once free it could operate on its own and even benefit our understanding of faith, indeed, Leibniz famously reasoned that God would only create one possible world, and that would be the Best of All Possible Worlds, and we’re in it now. Voltaire on the other hand found Leibniz’s idea to be an absurd and unrealistic understanding of the condition of this world and the nature of Human Freedom within it. To demonstrate his disagreement, Voltaire secretly published a satirical comedy called Candide, which was quickly censored and banned on accounts of blasphemy, political sedation, and intellectual hostility. Candide was indeed a relentless attack on Leibniz, revealing that if a person was to base their decisions and life choices around Leibniz’s view of this world being the Best of All Possible Worlds, the we would observe the most ridiculous misuse and misunderstanding of Human Freedom. Leibniz and Voltaire’s works on Freedom and surrounding themes are as informative as they are conflicting, but when compared, we further our contemporary understanding of Freedom as a concept as well as a principle to be practised.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMedievalism Transformed: Crime and Punishment
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Early Modern Philosophy
  • Voltaire
  • Leibniz

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