Candide and Related Texts

By Voltaire; David Wootton | Go to book overview

BEFORE VOLTAIRE

LEIBNIZ, “METAPHYSICS SUMMARIZED”1

1. There is a reason in the nature of things why something exists rather than nothing. It is a consequence of that great principle that nothing occurs without a reason, and also of the principle that there must be a reason why one thing occurs rather than another.

2. That reason must be in some real entity or cause. For a cause is simply a real reason; and truths about possibilities and necessities (or of cases where the impossibility of the opposite has been demonstrated) would have no effect unless possibilities were grounded in something that actually exists.

3. This real entity must be necessary, otherwise yet another cause must be sought outside it to explain why it exists rather than does not exist, which is contrary to the hypothesis. This entity is the ultimate reason for the existence of things, and is usually referred to by a single word, “God.”

4. There is therefore a cause that explains why existence occurs at the expense of nonexistence, which is to say that the necessary entity is existence creating.

5. But the cause that ensures that something exists, or that the possibility of existence must be realized, also ensures that everything that is possible seeks to come into existence, for no reason can be found why existence should be restricted to certain possibilities among all the possible existences.

6. And so it can be said that everything that can exist must exist, inasmuch as existence is grounded in a necessary entity that actually exists, without which there is no way in which the possible could become the actual.

7. But it does not follow from this that all possibilities must become realities, though this would follow if the existence of all possibilities were compatible with the existence of all other possibilities.

8. But since some things are incompatible with other things, it follows that certain possibilities cannot come into existence. Moreover it is not simply the case that there are certain things that cannot exist at the same time as certain other things, but that if certain things exist others cannot exist at any time, because future events are determined by present ones.

9. Meanwhile out of the conflict of all the possibilities that are seeking

1. Written c. 1697, this brief summary of Leibniz’s metaphysics, here translated from the Latin, was first published in 1903. It summarizes the argument of his Théodicée (1710), the only work published during Leibniz’s lifetime.

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Candide and Related Texts
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction viii
  • Chronology xxxiv
  • Further Reading xxxviii
  • A Note on the Texts xli
  • Notes on the Translation xlii
  • Candide, or Optimism1 1
  • Before Voltaire 84
  • The Lisbon Earthquake- Rousseau versus Voltaire 95
  • Toward Candide 123
  • Voltaire’s Correspondence 132
  • After Candide 137
  • Voltaire’s Feminism 143
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