Sunday, November 30, 2008
My name is Francois-Marie Arouet, but most know me as Voltaire. I way born in 1694 in Paris and will most likely die around 1778. I am a French Enlightenment author, critic, essayist, historian, and philosopher. When I was a young man, I ended up attending a Jesuit College where I acquired many ideas and feelings of rebellion. These feelings led me to write satirical works, even in a time of strict censorship. The Catholic Church put me in jail for my extreme political, religious, and philosophical works. It was in jail that I adopted my pen name, Voltaire (an anagram of AROVET LI, the Latin spelling of my surname). From jail I wrote two of my most famous works, Henriade (celebrating the life of Henry IV), and a successful tragedy called Oedipe. I was basically exiled from France and will live in England, Germany, and Italy for most of my life. I will not allowed to enter France until I am basically on my deathbed, when I am welcomed into Paris as a hero. I am able to continue my work by living in bordering locations of France. Some of the plays, comedies and tragedies I’ve written include Brutus, Zaire, Erphile, Mahomet, Meope, and Semiramis. I also wrote Elements de la philosophie de Newton, The Age of Louis XIV, Micromegas, Candide, Treatise on Tolerance, L’Ingenu, and La Princesse de Babylone. The literature I wrote in the form of a series of letters, known as the letters philosophiques, are by far my most influential yet. They covered many issues like religion, trade, politics, government, art and philosophy. These letters were very strong representations of the society I live in and the Enlightenment. My main concern and contribution to mankind related to religious toleration and to find justice for those victims of persecution. Organized religion, in my opinion is not vital for mankind. That being said, I think religious toleration is the only way to go. Churches like the Catholic church had low toleration. I am a skeptic of the Bible, and I believe it will even disappear from the face of the Earth in 100 years or so. I believe God was invented by people to create the “higher power” they need in order to function. I argue that the best form of government would be a constitutional monarchy. An enlightened person should rule the people, allowing the equality, fair taxes, and personal freedoms. Under these guidelines, all people would have equal opportunities. I denounce supernaturalism, religion and the power of the clergy, according to my studies, for the ability of human progress. When in Italy, I studied sciences and wrote many essays on Newton. I admire him for his ability to bind all scientific findings and rules to one universal law.