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Enlightenment Thinkers: Voltaire

A description of an Enlightenment thinker who influenced the French Revolution
by

Ashlea Gilmour

on 3 March 2011

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Transcript of Enlightenment Thinkers: Voltaire

Voltaire background information: - His name is actually François Marie d’Arouet

- Born in Paris into a bourgeois family

- Voltaire is his adopted pen name

- Was known in Paris for his writings of dramas and tragedies.

- Didn’t become famous for his Enlightenment ideas until he was forty. What was Voltaire’s Enlightenment ideas? Natural Religion
Church must be less powerful in Society
End Absolute rule of the Monarchy
Freedom of Religion and Religious Tolerance
Natural Religion: -Voltaire’s ideology that reason should replace the merit that superstition held in the Gallican Church. It was known as Deism and directly challenged many core beliefs of the Gallican Church including miracles and the ideology of heaven and hell. Voltaire’s beliefs of “natural religion” influenced the pattern which was to be followed in the Age of Enlightenment; the questioning of the Gallican Church, its influence on the people of France, its place in the French Society and its power. Freedom of religion and religious tolerance - Voltaire believed that the ideal religion would teach ethical principles and reason, rather than being based upon superstitious beliefs. He also believed that France should be tolerant to other religions, not just having the Catholic Church. How did Voltaire demonstrate his beliefs to the French people? Calas was accused of murdering his son and was executed barbarically. After the execution it was declared that he was innocent. Voltaire campaigned to clear Calas’ name and outlined that the reason why he was accused was due to the fact he was a Protestant and the Church’s corruption
Chevalier de la Barre was executed for blasphemy after he was tortured by the state. For years Voltaire fought for his family and to clear his name. It was through this case that Voltaire outlined to the public the corruption he believed was infiltrating that state and Gallican Church.
Published works and their impact on the French Society Upon his return to Paris after being exiled in 1729, Voltaire published a book outlining the advancement of the English society and their institutions in 1734. This was the Philosophical Letters. He compared England prosperity to the dismal state of the French economy, which sparked anger from the monarchy and he was therefore forced to leave France for a second time. The letters also included denouncing of the Gallican Church and religious beliefs. The Philosophical letters was banned within France, but became extremely popular throughout the rest of Europe. Some of Voltaire's publications ESSAY UPON EPIC POETRY/ ESSAY UPON THE CIVIL WARS IN FRANCE (1727)
ELÉMENTS DE LA PHILOSOPHIE DE NEWTON
- based upon Sir Isaacs Newton’s findings
DICTIONNAIRE PHILOSOPHIQUE (1764)
- His ideology of the perfect religion
CANDIDE (1759)
ZADIG (1747) How have Voltaire’s ideas influenced the Revolution? His ideas concerning human rights and the individuals place in society compared to the Gallican Church and the Monarchy were extremely influential for the French Revolution. One of his main beliefs was reinforcing the civil power of the state and abolish absolute power, an ideology which The Revolution focused upon.
Voltaire believed that Church should have no place in state affairs or influence in individuals lives, therefore he influence the anger regarding the Church’s influence in the old regime and later the French Revolution. He also believed that the Church should not have privileges and should be taxed along with the rest of the state.
His ideas concerning human rights and the individuals place in society compared to the Gallican Church and the Monarchy were extremely influential for the French Revolution. One of his main beliefs was reinforcing the civil power of the state and abolish absolute power, an ideology which The Revolution focused upon.
Voltaire believed that Church should have no place in state affairs or influence in individuals lives, therefore he influence the anger regarding the Church’s influence in the old regime and later the French Revolution. He also believed that the Church should not have privileges and should be taxed along with the rest of the state.
relevant information He was exiled from France numerous times Had several mistresses including a married women Marquise du Châtelet and his niece Madame Denis Voltaire hated fellow Enlightenment thinker Rousseau and wrote to him in 1761: "One feels like crawling on all fours after reading your work." Firstly he insulted nobleman Chevalier De Rohan and as a result was exiled to England where he lived until 1729. It was during this time that Voltarie was exposed to a range of different ideas. These stemmed from the works of philosopher John Lockes and Sir Isaac Newton’s scientific advances. He was a racist What made him stand out from other Enlightenment thinkers? His attacks on the Gallican Church His fierce nature His countless scandals Belief that marriage should be a civil cermony not a religious one The cases of Jean Calas and Chevalier de la Barre
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