Voltaire: liberty, tolerance and sense of the limit
Keywords:Voltaire, jusnaturalism, human weakness, Pascal, tolerance, reason, sense of the limit
The essay emphasizes three fundamental aspects of Voltaire’s thought: the aversion to modern jusnaturalism; the idea of “tolerance” as existential remedy to human weakness: “We are all full of weakness and errors; let us mutually pardon each other our follies - it is the first law of nature” (Voltaire, article “Tolérance”); and a non-triumphalist conception of “reason”: the summa of Voltaire’s thought is not the triumphant celebration of “reason”; rather, it lies in pointing out its limits, and therefore increasing its value. One of the most significant “articles” of the Dictionnaire philosophique is also the shortest together and concerns “the limits of reason” (“Bornes de l’esprit humain”). In its conclusion it embraces Montaigne’s motto: “What do I know?”.
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