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Beliau dikenali dengan akalnya yang tajam, penulisan falsafah, perjuangan hak-hak seseorang dan pertahanan hak-hak sivil termasuk kebebasan beragama dan hak ke atas perbicaraan yang adil. Beliau ialah seorang yang kuat bersuara mengenai pergaturan semula masyarakat semasa undang-undang yang menghalang kebebasan bersuara yang membawa hukuman berat dikuatkuasakan di Perancis. Beliau banyak mengkritik dogma Gereja dan institusi Perancis dengan penulisan sinisnya. Pendapatnya yang membentuk pemikiran liberalisme membuatkannya sebagai salah satu tokoh yang paling berpengaruh di waktunya.
Voltaire dilahirkan di Paris, Perancis pada 1694 sebagai anak kepada seorang notari awam, Francois Arouet dan isterinya, Marie Marguerite D'Aumard. Kebanyakan kehidupan Arouet berpusat di Paris hingga dibuang negeri. Beliau belajar di Collège Louis-le-Grand, di mana pendidikan seninya bermula. Namun, beliau mengaku bahawa beliau tidak belajar apa-apa melainkan "Latin dan Kebodohannya." Voltaire belajar di situ selama lapan tahun, di mana meskipun bersikap memandang hina, pusat pengajian tersebut masih membenarkan kemajuannya dalam bakat kesusasteraannya, terutamanya dalam bidang teater.
Selepas graduasi, Voltaire memulakan kerjayanya dalam penulisan. Namun begitu, bapanya berhasrat untuk memastikan Voltaire berpendidikan bidang perundangan. Voltaire kemudiannya berpura-pura bekerja di Paris sebagai pembantu hakim meskipun kebanyakan masanya dihabiskan untuk menulis puisi-puisi kasar. Setelah perkara itu terbongar, bapanya menghantar Voltaire sekali lagi untuk diajarkan perundangan dalam negeri. Meskipun begitu, beliau meneruskan penulisannya, kini menulis karangan dan perihal sejarah (walaupun tidak selalunya tepat). Fikiran satira Voltaire telah menjadikannya terkenal dalam kalangan keluarga aristokrat dan teruskan penulisannya berkenaan tokoh-tokoh sejarah terkemuka. Salah satu hasilnya ialah berkenaan pemangku raja Louis XV, Philippe II lalu menyebabkan beliau dihantar ke Bastille. Semasa dipenjarakan, Arouet menulis lakon pertamanya, Oedipe dan di sinilah beliau mendapat nama Voltaire. Kejayaan Oedipe memulakan pengaruh Voltaire dan membawanya ke Zaman Pencerahan Perancis.
Pembuangan ke EnglandSunting
Tikam balas Voltaire terus memberikannya masalah. Selepas mencela seorang bangsawan muda, Chevalier de Rohan, keluarga Rohan mengeluarkan sebuah lettre de cachet, suatu waran rahsia yang membolehkan hukuman kepada seseorang yang tidak melakukan apa-apa kesalahan dan menggunakannya untuk membuang Voltaire tanpa perbicaraan. Peristiwa ini menjadi permulaan percubaan Voltaire untuk membaiki sistem perundangan Perancis.
Pembuangan Voltaire ke England banyak mempengaruhinya melalui buah fikiran dan pengalaman. Voltaire kagum dengan sistem monarki England bersama dengan kebebasan bersuara dan beragama di situ. Beliau juga menemui beberapa tokoh terkenal dan terpengaruh oleh penulis seperti Shakespeare yang dilihat olehnya sebagai orang yang sepatutnya dicontohi para penulis Perancis. Kebanyakan karyanya dipengaruhi penetapannya di sini. Selepas tiga tahun dibuang negeri, Voltaire pulang ke Paris dan menerbitkan fikirannya berkenaan kerajaan Inggeris dalam sebuah dokumen fiksyen bertajuk Lettres philosophiques (Surat Falsafah). Oleh kerana beliau menganggap sistem monarki England lebih maju dan lebih memelihara hak manusia, terutamanya dalam aspek kebebasan agama berbandingkan Perancis, surat-surat tersebut mendapat kontroversi yang hebat di Perancis, sehinggakan salinan dokumen tersebut dibakar dan Voltaire terpaksa meninggalkan Paris.
Château de CireySunting
Voltaire then set out to the Château de Cirey, located on the borders of Champagne, France and Lorraine. The building was renovated with his money, and here he began a relationship with the Marquise du Châtelet, Gabrielle Émilie le Tonnelier de Breteuil. Their relationship, which lasted for fifteen years, led to much intellectual development. Voltaire and the Marquise collected over 21,000 books, an enormous amount for their time. Together, Voltaire and the Marquise also studied these books and performed experiments. Both worked on experimenting with the "natural sciences", the term used in that epoch for physics, in his laboratory. Voltaire performed many experiments, including one that attempted to determine the properties of fire.
The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica comments that, "If the English visit may be regarded as having finished Voltaire's education, the Cirey residence was the first stage of his literary manhood." Having learned from his previous brushes with the authorities, Voltaire began his future habit of keeping out of personal harm's way, and denying any awkward responsibility. He continued to write, publishing plays such as Mérope and some short stories. Again, a main source of inspiration for Voltaire were the years he spent exiled in England. During his time there, Voltaire had been strongly influenced by the works of Sir Isaac Newton, a leading philosopher and scientist of the epoch. Voltaire strongly believed in Newton's theories, especially concerning optics (Newton’s discovery that white light is comprised of all the colors in the spectrum led to many experiments on his and the Marquise's part), and gravity (the story of Newton and the apple falling from the tree is mentioned in his Essai sur la poésie épique (Essay on Epic Poetry)). Although both Voltaire and the Marquise were also curious about the philosophies of Gottfried Leibniz, a contemporary and rival of Newton, Voltaire and the Marquise remained "Newtonians" and based their theories on Newton’s works and ideas. Though it has been stated that the Marquise may have been more "Leibnizian", which may have caused tension between the two, this is probably exaggeration; the Marquise even wrote "je newtonise," which means "I am "newtoning". Voltaire wrote a book on Newton's philosophies: the Eléments de la philosophie de Newton (The Elements of Newton's Philosophies). The Elements was probably written with the Marquise, and describes the other branches of Newton's ideas that fascinated him: it spoke of optics and the theory of attraction (gravity).
Voltaire and the Marquise also studied history - particularly the people who built up civilization to the point it was at the time. Voltaire had worked with history since his time in England; his second essay in English had the title Essay upon the Civil Wars in France. When he returned to France, He wrote a biographical essay over King Charles XII. This essay was the beginning of Voltaire's rejection of religion; he wrote that human life is not destined or controlled by greater beings. The essay won him the position of historian in the king's court. Voltaire and the Marquise also worked with philosophy, particularly with metaphysics, the branch of philosophy dealing with the distant, and what cannot be directly proven: why and what life is, whether or not there is a God, and so on. Voltaire and the Marquise analyzed the Bible, trying to find its validity in the world. Voltaire renounced religion; he believed in the separation of church and state and in religious freedom, ideas he formed after his stay in England. Voltaire even claimed that "One hundred years from my day there will not be a Bible in the earth except one that is looked upon by an antiquarian curiosity seeker."
After the death of the Marquise, Voltaire moved to Berlin to join Frederick the Great, a close friend and admirer of his. The king had repeatedly invited him to his palace, and now gave him a salary of 20,000 francs a year. Though life went well at first, he began to encounter difficulties. Faced with a lawsuit and an argument with the president of the Berlin Academy of science, Voltaire wrote the Diatribe du docteur Akakia (Diatribe of Doctor Akakia) which derided the president. This greatly angered Frederick, who had all copies of the document burned and arrested Voltaire at an inn where he was staying along his journey home. Voltaire headed toward Paris, but Louis XV banned him from the city, so instead he turned to Geneva, where he bought a large estate. Though he was received openly at first, the law in Geneva which banned theatrical performances and the publication of La pucelle d'Orléans against his will led to Voltaire's writing of Candide, ou l'Optimisme (Candide, or Optimism) in 1759 and his eventual leave. Candide, a satire on the philosophy of Gottfried Leibniz, remains the work for which Voltaire is perhaps best known.
Voltaire was a prolific writer, and produced works in almost every literary form, authoring plays, poetry, novels, essays, historical and scientific works, pamphlets, and over 20,000 letters. His most significant works include:
- Oedipe (1718)
- Zaire (1732)
- Lettres philosophiques sur les Anglais (1733), revised as Letters on the English (c. 1778)
- Le Mondain (1736)
- Sept Discours en Vers sur l'Homme (1738)
- Zadig (1747)
- Micromegas (1752)
- Candide (1759)
- Dictionnaire philosophique (1764)
- Épître à l'Auteur du Livre des Trois Imposteurs (Letter to the author of The Three Impostors) (1770)
Voltaire wrote between fifty and sixty plays, including a few unfinished ones. These include:
From an early age, Voltaire displayed a talent for writing verse, and his first published work was poetry. He wrote two long poems, the Henriade, and the Pucelle, besides many other smaller pieces.
The Henriade was written in imitation of Virgil, using the Alexandrine couplet reformed and rendered monotonous for dramatic purposes. Voltaire lacked both enthusiasm for and understanding of the subject, which both negatively impacted the poem's quality. The Pucelle, on the other hand, is a burlesque work attacking religion and history. Voltaire's minor poems are generally considered superior to either of these two works.
Prose and romancesSunting
Voltaire's prose and romances, usually composed as pamphlets, were often written for the purposes of polemics. Candide attacks religious and philosophical optimism, L'Homme aux quarante ecus certain social and political ways of the time, Zadig and others the received forms of moral and metaphysical orthodoxy, and some were written to deride the Bible. In these works, Voltaire's ironic style without exaggeration is apparent, particularly the extreme restraint and simplicity of the verbal treatment. Voltaire never dwells too long on this point, stays to laugh at what he has said, elucidates or comments on his own jokes, guffaws over them or exaggerates their form. Candide in particular is the best example of his style.
- History of Charles XII, King of Sweden (1731)
- The Age of Louis XIV (1752)
- The Age of Louis XV (1746 - 1752)
- Annals of the Empire - Charlemagne, A.D. 742 - Henry VII 1313, Vol. I (1754)
- Annals of the Empire - Louis of Bavaria, 1315 to Ferdinand II 1631 Vol. II (1754)
- History of the Russian Empire Under Peter the Great (Vol. I 1759; Vol. II 1763)
An Investigator of GospelsSunting
Voltaire opposed Christian beliefs fiercely, but not consistently. On one hand, he claimed that the Gospels were figmented and Jesus did not exist - that they were produced by those who wanted to create God in their own image and were full of discrepancies. On the other hand, he claimed that this very same community preserved the texts without making any change to adjust those discrepancies. However, the defense of Christian apologetics of his time was usually not very convincing either, as many avoided Voltaire's work.
Voltaire's largest philosophical work is the Dictionnaire philosophique, comprising articles contributed by him to the great Encyclopédie and of several minor pieces. While it directed criticism against French political institutions and Voltaire's personal enemies, the work mostly targeted the Bible and the Catholic Church. While his work is too superficial and common-sense to serve as philosophy in the sense of Kant or Rawles, it draws brilliant and insightful observations on concrete problems. The book ranks perhaps second only to the novels as showing the character, literary and personal, of Voltaire.
Voltaire also wrote a large amount of private correspondence during his life, totalling over 20,000 letters. His personality shows through in the letters that he wrote: his energy and versatility, his unhesitating flattery when he chose to flatter, his ruthless sarcasm, his unscrupulous business faculty and his resolve to double and twist in any fashion so as to escape his enemies.
In general criticism and miscellaneous writing Voltaire's writing was comparable to that in his other works. Almost all his more substantive works, whether in verse or prose, are preceded by prefaces of one sort or another, which are models of his caustic yet conversational tone. In a vast variety of nondescript pamphlets and writings, he displays his skills at journalism. In pure literary criticism his principle work is the Commentaire sur Corneille, although he wrote many more similar works — sometimes (as in his Life and notices of Molière) independently and sometimes as part of his Siécles. Voltaire's defects were most apparent both here and in his dealings with religion. He was unacquainted with the history of his own language and literature, and more than anywhere else, here he showed the extraordinarily limited and conventional spirit which accompanied the revolt of the French 18th century against limits and conventions in theological, ethical and political matters.
Voltaire's works, and especially his private letters, constantly contain the word l'infâme and the expression (in full or abbreviated) écrasez l'infâme. This expression has sometimes been misunderstood as meaning Christ, but the real meaning is "persecuting and privileged orthodoxy" in general. Particularly, it is the system which Voltaire saw around him, the effects which he had felt in his own exiles and the confiscations of his books, and which he had seen in the hideous sufferings of Calas and La Barre.
Voltaire perceived the French bourgeoisie to be too small and ineffective, the aristocracy to be parasitic and corrupt, the commoners as ignorant and superstitious, and the church as a static force only useful as a counterbalance since its "religious tax", or the tithe, helped to cement a powerbase against the monarchy.
Voltaire distrusted democracy, which he saw as propagating the idiocy of the masses. To Voltaire only an enlightened monarch, or Enlightened Absolutism, advised by philosophers like himself, could bring about change as it was in the king's rational interest to improve the power and wealth of France in the world. Voltaire is quoted as saying that he "would rather obey one lion, than 200 rats of (his own) species". Voltaire essentially believed monarchy to be the key to progress and change.
He is best known today for his novel, Candide, ou l'Optimisme (1759), which satirizes the philosophy of Gottfried Leibniz. Candide was subject to censorship and Voltaire did not openly claim it as his own work .
Voltaire is also known for many memorable aphorisms, like Si Dieu n'existait pas, il faudrait l'inventer ("If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him"), contained in a verse epistle from 1768, addressed to the anonymous author of a controversial work, The Three Impostors.
Jean-Baptiste Rousseau, not to be confused with the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, sent a copy of his "Ode to Posterity" to Voltaire. Voltaire read it through and said, "I do not think this poem will reach its destination."
Voltaire is remembered and honoured in France as a courageous polemicist, who indefatigably fought for civil rights — the right to a fair trial and freedom of religion — and who denounced the hypocrisies and injustices of the ancien régime.
But some of his critics, like Thomas Carlyle, do argue that while he was unsurpassed in literary form, not even the most elaborate of his works was of much value for matter, and that he has never uttered any significant idea of his own.
Contemporary Canadian philosopher John Ralston Saul lays the blame for the failures of Western, technocratic society with Voltaire in his book Voltaire's Bastards: the Dictatorship of Reason in the West.
The town of Ferney (France) where he lived his last 20 years of life, is now named Ferney-Voltaire. His Château is now a museum (L'Auberge de l'Europe). Voltaire's library is preserved intact in the Russian National Library, St Petersburg.
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- "This agglomeration which was called and which still calls itself the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire."
- "You know that these two nations are at war over a few acres of snow near Canada, and that they are spending on this little war more than all of Canada is worth."
- "In this country, from time to time, we like to kill an admiral, to encourage the others" (Referencing the execution of Admiral Byng)(Candide)
- "God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh."
- "I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it."
- "Common sense is not so common."
- "If there were only one religion in England there would be danger of despotism; if there were two they would cut each other’s throats. But there are thirty, and they live in peace and happiness."
- "I shall finally have to renounce your Optimism? I'm afraid to say that it's a mania for insisting that all is well when things are going badly." (Candide, renouncing the Leibnizian Optimism)
- "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."
- "One hundred years from my day there will not be a Bible in the earth except one that is looked upon by an antiquarian curiosity seeker."
- "Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too." (Essay on Tolerance)
- "Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien." Translation: "The best is the enemy of the good." (Dictionnaire Philosophique).
- "Now now, dear man, this is not the time to be making enemies." (on his death bed when a priest asked him to "renounce satan")
- "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him." (Epistle on the "Three Imposters"). This statement by Voltaire became so familiar that Gustave Flaubert included it in his Dictionnaire des idées reçues ("Dictionary of commonplace ideas"), and it is still among the most frequently quoted of Voltaire's dicta .
- "Truth is a fruit that can only be picked when it is very ripe."
- "The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease."
The quote I do not agree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it is commonly misattributed to Voltaire, but is actually a summary of his attitudes, based on statements he made in Essay on Tolerance, by Evelyn Beatrice Hall (writing under the pseudonym of Stephen G. Tallentyre in The Friends of Voltaire (1906)).
- Rencana ini menggabungkan teks daripada Ensiklopedia Britannica Edisi Ke-11, sebuah terbitan yang kini di domain awam.
- Spielvogel -- Western Civilization -- Volume II: Since 1500 (5th Edition -- 2003)
- "Voltaire, Author and Philosopher." Lucidcafé. 8 October 2005. Lucidcafé. 25 November 2005 .
- "Voltaire", in Richard Shenkman, Legends, Lies, and Cherished Myths of World History (HarperCollins, 1993), pages 148-51 passim.
- "Voltaire", by Thomas S. Vernon. .
- McNeil, Russell. "Voltaire (1694)." Malaspina Great Books. 25 November 2005 .
- Wade, Ira O. Studies on Voltaire. New York, NY : Russell & Russell, 1967.
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- Projek Gutenberg: Karya-karya oleh Voltaire
- Société Voltaire
- Voltaire Society of America
- Institut et Musée Voltaire, Geneva, Switzerland
- Perpustakaan perseorangan Voltaire
- Beberapa pucuk surat terpilih
- Sebuah bibliografi lengkap
- Biografi dan kutipan Voltaire
- karya e-teks oleh Voltaire
- Whose Line Is It Anyway?
- Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy on Voltaire
- Voltaire Quotes
- Voltaire's Story of the Good Brahmin
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