Voltaire and Candide on the Strangeness of Man

In the neighborhood lived a very famous dervish who was thought to be the best philosopher in Turkey; they went to consult him. Pangloss, who was their spokesman, addressed him: “Master, we’ve come to beg you to tell us why so strange an animal as man has been created.”

“Why do you trouble your head about it?” said the dervish; “is it any business of yours?” “But my reverend father,” said Candide, “there is a horrible deal of evil on the earth.” “What does it matter,” says the dervish, “whether there is evil or good? when his highness sends a ship to Egypt, does hey worry whether the rats in the vessel are at their ease or not?” “What must be done then?” says Pangloss. “Be quiet,” answers the dervish. “I had hoped,” replied Pangloss, “to reason a little with you on the causes and effects, on the best of possible worlds, the origin of evil, the nature of the soul, and a pre-established harmony.” At these words the dervish shut the door in their faces.

Voltaire, Candide (B&N: 2003) p. 128

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