French man of letters and philosopher. Voltaire was born François-Marie Arouet, into a wealthy Parisian family, and educated at the Jesuit school of Louis-le-Grand. His satirical writing led to exiles in Holland (1713) and England (1726–9; it was said that he went to England a poet and returned a philosopher). He returned to France, and published the Lettres philosophiques (1734, trs. as Philosophical Letters on the English Nation ), whose admiration for the liberal spirit of England made it necessary for him to retire to the country to avoid arrest. For the next fifteen years he lived mainly in the country of Lorraine in the company of the savant Mme du Châtelet. After a period in Prussia he settled in 1755 in a château near Geneva, where he published Essai sur les múurs et l’esprit des nations (1756, trs. as Essays on the Manners and Spirit of Nations, 1758) and Candide, ou l’optimisme (1759, trs. as Candide, or All for the Best, 1759). This was followed by the equally satirical Dictionnaire philosophique (1764, trs. as Philosophical Dictionary, 1764). He subsequently lived in France, but only returned to Paris shortly before his death, to be hailed as the greatest French champion of the Enlightenment, and his generation's most courageous spokesman for freedom and toleration.
Philosophically Voltaire imbibed the combination of science, empiricism, and religious awe characteristic of Newton and Locke . Although he wrote passionately against the metaphysical speculations of his predecessors, especially Leibniz, Voltaire was prepared to take refuge in ignorance, for instance of the nature of the soul, or the way to reconcile evil with divine providence. Himself a deist, he became famous as the implacable opponent of organized Christian religion, whose baleful effects were all too visible in the world of his time (‘those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities’). Although his lustre as a philosopher does not match his eminence as a man of letters, poet, and playwright, Voltaire remains a central example of the philosopher as a politically engaged, liberal humanist.

Philosophy dictionary. . 2011.

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  • Voltaire's — Voltaire …   Philosophy dictionary

  • Voltaire — (Porträt von Nicolas de Largillière) Voltaire [vɔlˈtɛːʀ] (* 21. November 1694 in Paris; † 30. Mai 1778 ebenda; eigentlich François Marie Arouet [ …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • VOLTAIRE — La vie de Voltaire recouvre tout un siècle, ou peu s’en faut: mieux, l’écrivain se confond avec son temps au point qu’on a parlé dès son vivant du siècle de Voltaire . Plus encore, il semble incarner l’esprit même de la France. À quoi tient cette …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • VOLTAIRE° — (François Marie Arouet; 1694–1778), French philosopher. No writer contributed so much as Voltaire to the destruction of the traditional beliefs fundamental to European society before the French Revolution: belief in the divine right of monarchy,… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Voltaire —   [vɔl tɛːr], eigentlich François Marie Arouet [aru̯ ɛ], französischer Schriftsteller und Philosoph, * Paris 21. 11. 1694, ✝ ebenda 30. 5. 1778; Sohn eines wohlhabenden Notars, erhielt eine humanistische Ausbildung im Jesuitenkolleg Louis le… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Voltaire — (spr. woltǟr ), François Marie Arouet de, der vielleicht einflußreichste aller franz. Schriftsteller, geb. 21. Nov. 1694 in Paris, gest. daselbst 30. Mai 1778, war der Sohn eines Finanzbeamten, Arouet, der ihn in dem Jesuitenkollegium Louis le… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Voltaire — Voltaire, François Maria Arouet de. Wer kennt nicht den Philosophen von Ferney, den großen Mann mit kleinen Leidenschaften, so freigebig und schonungslos mit seinem Spott und seiner Satyre, und doch so empfindlich und leicht verletzt durch… …   Damen Conversations Lexikon

  • Voltaire — Voltaire, ND U.S. city in North Dakota Population (2000): 51 Housing Units (2000): 21 Land area (2000): 0.407527 sq. miles (1.055489 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.407527 sq. miles (1.055489… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Voltaire, ND — U.S. city in North Dakota Population (2000): 51 Housing Units (2000): 21 Land area (2000): 0.407527 sq. miles (1.055489 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.407527 sq. miles (1.055489 sq. km) FIPS… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Voltaire — Ce nom de famille ne se rencontre que dans les départements d Outre Mer, où il a été visiblement attribué en hommage au philosophe. Rappelons que le nom Voltaire est une anagramme de L.I. Arouet, dans laquelle le v équivaut au u …   Noms de famille

  • Voltaire — name taken from 1718 by French author François Marie Arouet (1694 1778) after his imprisonment in the Bastille on suspicion of having written some satirical verses; originally de Voltaire. The signification is uncertain …   Etymology dictionary

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