English 4

December 11-15






Today. Upload Candide opening ¶, TH, outline to Peergrade assignment Candide essay Opening ¶, TH, outline.

Tonight. Work on Candide essay, your final exam.

Ongoing. Candide essay due Thursday, December 14. Your final exam. See details on assignment page.








Today. Work on Candide essay.

Tonight. Work on Candide essay.

Ongoing. Candide essay due Thursday, December 14. Your final exam. See details on assignment page.









Today. Work on Candide essay. Due tomorrow.

Tonight. Work on Candide essay.

Ongoing. Candide essay due Thursday, December 14. Your final exam. See details on assignment page.









Today. Work on Candide essay. Due today.


Ongoing. Sunday, December 17. Peergrade, Candide essay by 22:00. A participation grade.









Today. We'll spend the remaining days of the semester doing some basics review. Bring Degen and your iPad.

Tonight. None.

Ongoing. Sunday, December 17. Peergrade, Candide essay by 22:00. A participation grade.

reading links


Satire by David Mikics
Satire, key intentions, techniques
Parody, Satire by Edward Hirsch
Changing nature of satire
Bildungsroman by David Mikics
Study questions from Auburn U
Alexander Pope's Essay on Man
Gustave Flaubert on Voltaire
Volaire from SEP
On the Lisbon Earthquake
Toleration, Virtue by Voltaire



Leibniz on the Problem of Evil
from Stanford Encyclopedia
of Philosophy

7.2 Optimism
How can this world be the best of all possible worlds? After all, as Voltaire brought out so clearly in Candide, it certainly seems that this world, in which one finds no short supply of natural and moral horrors, is far from perfect—indeed, it seems pretty lousy. Certainly only a fool could believe that it is the best world possible. But, Leibniz speaks on behalf of the fool, with an argument that has essentially the following structure:
(1) God is omnipotent and omniscient and benevolent and the free creator of the world. (Definition)
(2) Things could have been otherwise—i.e., there are other possible worlds. (Premise)
(3) Suppose this world is not the best of all possible worlds. (I.e., The world could be better.)
(4) If this world is not the best of all possible worlds, then at least one of the following must be the case: God was not powerful enough to bring about a better world; or God did not know how this world would develop after his creation of it (i.e. God lacked foreknowledge); or God did not wish this world to be the best; or God did not create the world; or there were no other possible worlds from which God could choose.
(5) But, any one or more of the disjuncts of (4) contradicts (1) or (2).
(6) Therefore, this world is the best of all possible worlds.
     In other words, Leibniz seems to argue that, if one is to hold the traditional theistic conception of God and believe that one can meaningfully assert that the world could have been other than it is, then one must hold that this world is the best possible. Naturally, this argument is simply the Christian retort to the Epicurean argument against theism.
     But what are the criteria by which one can say that this world is the best? It should be clear that Leibniz nowhere says that this argument implies that everything has to be wonderful. Indeed, Leibniz is squarely in the tradition of all Christian apologists going back to Augustine, arguing that we cannot have knowledge of the whole of the world and that even if a piece of the mosaic that is discoverable to us is ugly the whole may indeed have great beauty. Still, Leibniz does offer at least two considerations relevant to the determination of the happiness and perfection of the world. He tells us in the Discourse on Metaphysics, first, that the happiness of minds is the principal aim of God (A VI iv 1537/AG 38) and, second, that God has chosen the most perfect world, that is, the one which is at the same time the simplest in hypotheses and the richest in phenomena. (A VI iv 1538/AG 39) So, is this world of genocide and natural disaster better than a world containing only one multifoliate rose? Yes, because the former is a world in which an infinity of minds perceive and reflect on the diversity of phenomena caused by a modest number of simple laws. To the more difficult question whether there is a better world with perhaps a little less genocide and natural disaster Leibniz can only respond that, if so, God would have brought it into actuality. And this, of course, is to say that there really is no better possible world.



from A Poet's Glossary
by Edward Hirsch

"Satire is essentially moral. Its fundamental mode is earnest joking, kidding on the square, improving society by attacking villains and fools. The editor of The Oxford Book of Satirical Verse (1980) notes, 'One can say gravely that satire postulates an ideal condition of man or decency, and then despairs of it; and enjoys the despair, masochistically. But the joke must not be lost—the joke of statement, of sound, of rhythm, form, vocabulary, rhyme, and surprise. Without the joke everything goes; and we may be left only with complaint, invective, or denunciation; all of which may be poetry, but of another kind.'"



From The Philosophical Dictionary

"What is virtue? Beneficence towards the fellow-creature. Can I call virtue things other than those which do me good? I am needy, you are generous. I am in danger, you help me. I am deceived, you tell me the truth. I am neglected, you console me. I am ignorant, you teach me. Without difficulty I shall call you virtuous. But what will become of the cardinal and divine virtues? Some of them will remain in the schools.
     "What does it matter to me that you are temperate? you observe a precept of health; you will have better health, and I am happy to hear it. You have faith and hope, and I am happy still; they will procure you eternal life. Your divine virtues are celestial gifts; your cardinal virtues are excellent qualities which serve to guide you : but they are not virtues as regards your fellow-creature. The prudent man does good to himself, the virtuous man does good to mankind. St. Paul was right to tell you that charity prevails over faith and hope.
     "But shall only those that are useful to one's fellow-creature be admitted as virtues? How can I admit any others? We live in society; really, therefore, the only things that are good for us are those that are good for society. A recluse will be sober, pious; he will be clad in hair-cloth; he will be a saint: but I shall not call him virtuous until he has done some act of virtue by which other men have profited. So long as he is alone, he is doing neither good nor evil; for us he is nothing. If St. Bruno brought peace to families, if he succoured want, he was virtuous; if he fasted, prayed in solitude, he was a saint. Virtue among men is an interchange of kindness; he who has no part in this interchange should not be counted. If this saint were in the world, he would doubtless do good; but so long as he is not in the world, the world will be right in refusing him the title of virtuous; he will be good for himself and not for us.
     "But, you say to me, if a recluse is a glutton, a drunkard, given to secret debauches with himself, he is vicious; he is virtuous, therefore, if he has the Opposite qualities. That is what I cannot agree : he is a very disagreeable fellow if he has the faults you mention; but he is not vicious, wicked, punishable as regards society to whom these infamies do no harm. It is to be presumed that were he to return to society he would do harm there, that he would be very vicious; and it is even more probable that he would be a wicked man, than it is sure that the other temperate and chaste recluse would be a virtuous man, for in society faults increase, and good qualities diminish.
     "A much stronger objection is made; Nero, Pope Alexander VI., and other monsters of this species, have bestowed kindnesses; I answer hardily that on that day they were virtuous.
     "A few theologians say that the divine emperor Antonine was not virtuous; that he was a stubborn Stoic who, not content with commanding men, wished further to be esteemed by them; that he attributed to himself the good he did to the human race; that all his life he was just, laborious, beneficent through vanity, and that lie only deceived men through his virtues. " My God ! " I exclaim. " Give us often rogues like him !"

Assignments due
read them in full


Monday, December 11. Thesis, outline, and opening ¶ for Candide essay, ready to be uploaded to Peergrade in class. We will spend Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday working on the Candide essay. Take full advantage of this opportunity to write the best essay you can. For Monday, you might well have a rough draft based on TH and outline already written. A participation grade.

Thursday, December 14. Candide essay due. No paper copy. Upload to Candide essay assignment at both Peergrade and Turnitin. Details on this assignment page. Think of this essay as your final exam.

Sunday, December 17. Peergrade, Candide essay by 22:00. A participation grade.



Have The Road ready to go
during Christmas break




Essay documents

Grading notes
Essay editing marks, with explanations
LBH sentences crafting packet
LBH punctuation packet
Essay rubric, technical
Essay rubric, conceptual
Asking good quesstions
MLA style center



from In Our Time



From The Philosophical Dictionary
ways of having a false mind

1. By not examining if the principle is true, even when one deduces accurate consequences therefrom; and this way is common.

2. By drawing false consequences from a principle recognized as true. For example, a servant is asked if his master is in his room, by persons he suspects of wanting his life: if he were foolish enough to tell them the truth on the pretext that one must not lie, it is clear he would be drawing an absurd consequence from a very true principle.

A judge who would condemn a man who has killed his assassin, because homicide is forbidden, would be as iniquitous as he was poor reasoner.

Similar cases are subdivided in a thousand different gradations. The good mind, the just mind, is that which distinguishes them; whence comes that one has seen so many iniquitous judgments, not because the judges' hearts were bad, but because they were not sufficiently enlightened.



From Charles Simic


"What [poet Czeslaw Milosz] and his family were to experience in their lifetimes under the pressure of historical events was the fate of many other people, and it included the most important lesson—that good and evil are not some debatable religious or philosophical concepts, but things one learns to recognize daily like hunger and the taste of bread."

Might the same be said about Candide and company?