Voltaire research papers assert that Voltaire can perhaps be considered to be the greatest of the philosophes. Even as a child, François-Marie Arouet (b. 1694) found himself immersed in a world of free thinkers. When he was twelve, he so impressed the aged courtesan Ninon de l’Enclos that she bequeathed him two thousand francs in order to buy books. A year or two later, his godfather, the Abbé de Châteauneuf, introduced the lad to the Society of the Temple, a group of libertines and freethinkers. Arouet soon found himself established in this group as a known wit. Arouet’s early writing career included banishment from Paris in 1715 when he circulated a poem suggesting that the Regent of France (governing for the five year old Louis XV) was committing incest with his daughter. Shortly after this episode, he adopted the pen name Voltaire.
Voltaire probably became a deist in the 1720s, before the Contra Pascal was written, but it was not until he was “old, rich, famous and relatively safe from prosecution” that he began pouring out anti-Christianity attacks such as the Philosophical Dictionary, first published anonymously in 1764. “Theology amuses me,” Voltaire wrote at the time. “There we find man’s insanity in all its plenitude”.
The end of Candide (1754) demonstrates Voltaire’s deep pessimism about society. Candide and his companions settle into farming. Dr. Pangloss, the philosopher, reminds Candide that man must work. But it is Martin who remarks: “Let us work without reasoning…it is the only way to make life endurable”.