Welcome to SPACE, our adult continuing education program which offers interactive monthly courses for personal enrichment! Learn more here.

Philosophy in a World of Chaos: Voltaire’s Candide, or Optimism

Precepted by Liam Daley.
Why do bad things happen to good people? How can we know which is the best philosophy to live by in a world of chaos? This course shows how Voltaire’s raucous comic novella answers those questions. Join the young Candide on a series of misadventures that includes war, shipwreck, earthquake, religious persecution, dismemberment, amorous monkeys, New World discovery, royal dethronement, and the French. Along the way, he experiences love and loss, acquires a group of misfit companions, and encounters a host of competing philosophies – each trying to explain how the world got the way it is and how to make living there bearable. Though primary emphasis will be placed on the novel, we will also look at short excerpts both from Voltaire’s philosophical writing relevant to the novel and from Leonard Bernstein’s musical dramatization of the work.


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