Voltaire Views on Religious Toleration and Free Speech

Research Topics Presentation Tips History Essays Enlightenment Philosophes Voltaire Facts

Voltaire was among the few Frenchmen who was courageous enough to speak out against the Catholic Church and live to a ripe old age. His real name was Francois Marie Arouet but became Voltaire after he was thrown into prison for writing satirical verses criticizing the government and the Catholic Church.

Summary of Voltaire Philosophy with Quotes

Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary was one of his best-known mockeries of religious intolerance (3:1). In the Philosophical Dictionary under the section, Religion, Voltaire describes the horrible cruelties of religious fanaticism resulting from religious intolerance. This section was aimed at the hypocrisy of religious intolerance. .At the following avenues as the bones of Christians butchered by one another on account of metaphysical disputes. They are divided into several piles of four centuries each; it was necessary to separate them; for had they all been together, they would have reached the sky. (1:120). In the section on Tolerance, Voltaire goes further, criticizing not just the government but also the people; those who spoke of tolerance and injustices quietly to their friends yet denounce tolerance publicly. .Why then do the same men who in private advocate indulgence, kindness and justice, vise in public with so much fury against these virtues?. (1:30). These excerpts from the Philosophical Dictionary expressed Voltaire's contempt for hypocrisy. Although Voltaire was not a revolutionary, he wrote the Philosophical Dictionary along with other anti-establishment material with the intention of shaming the public into reform.

Voltaire's writing had more impact than just reform. Voltaire's writing coupled with the writings of John Locke influenced the public by appealing to reason. This influence led to revolution in America and France.

Article Catagory: Religious Toleration Enlightenment