Tang Chun-I Visiting Professorship Public Lecture: Voltaire and Rousseau on Optimism
Prof. Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra
4:30 – 6:30 pm
Cho Yiu Conference Hall (with synchronous online broadcast)
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Voltaire’s poem on the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 marks the beginning of Voltaire’s attacks on optimism, the idea that everything is well, or that this is the best possible world, ideas that Voltaire and most of his contemporaries associated with Leibniz and Pope. In a short letter of 1756 Rousseau rejected Voltaire’s rejection of optimism and in fact he argued for a kind of optimism. In the lecture I shall discuss Voltaire’s and Rousseau’s positions.