You will want to focus your attention on the question of whether Voltaire seems to be a typical Enlightenment thinker or not. Specifically, how does Voltaire represent mainline Enlightenment thinking? In what ways does he seem to be diverging from the prevailing views of the other philosophes? You must focus your attention on at least three of the subjects outlined below:
- Voltaire’s portrayal of religion. How does Voltaire satirize the following religious traditions: Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, and Islam?
- Voltaire’s portrayal of the social order. How does Voltaire satirize nobles to make it seem absurd that they are granted a privileged position in the social order?
- Voltaire’s portrayal of man’s inhumanity to man. Focus your attention on Voltaire’s portrayal of war and military discipline, slavery, the treatment of women, and crime and punishment.
- Voltaire on the Idea of Progress. Is Voltaire a typical Enlightenment optimist? Why or why not?