Who is Francois-Marie Arouet- Voltaire?

(1694 – 1778)

François-Marie Arouet, better known by the pen name, Voltaire was a French Enlightenment writer, deist, and philosopher. Voltaire perceived the French bourgeoisie to be too small and ineffective, the aristocracy to be parasitic and corrupt, the commoners to be ignorant and superstitious, and the church to be a static force only useful as a counterbalance since its "religious tax", or the tithe helped to cement a powerbase against the monarchy.

Voltaire distrusted democracy which he saw as propagating the idiocy of the masses. To Voltaire, only an enlightened monarch advised by philosophers like himself could bring about change, as it was in the king's rational interest to improve the power and wealth of France in the world. Voltaire is quoted as saying that he "would rather obey one lion than 200 rats of (his own) species". Voltaire essentially believed monarchy to be the key to progress and change.

He is best known in this day and age for his novel, Candide ou l'Optimisme (1759) which satirizes the philosophy of Gottfried Leibniz. Voltaire is also known for many memorable aphorisms like, "Si Dieu n'existait pas, il faudrait l'inventer," ("If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him"). Today, Voltaire is remembered and honored in France as a courageous polemicist who indefatigably fought for civil rights, the right to a fair trial, and freedom of religion, and who denounced the hypocrisies and injustices of the ancient régime. But some of his critics, like Thomas Carlyle argue that while he was unsurpassed in literary form, not even the most elaborate of his works were of much value for matter and that he has never uttered any significant idea of his own.