Every era comes across a spirit that entirely changes the way the people think. They are the most important and influential people of the human history. The ideas usually follow the same process as any evolutionary model. Someone will come up with an idea that breaks the current system of thinking. It started out from people believing in magic, then switched to a more standard setting of organized religion, and finally we are slowly, but surely, switching to a more advanced scientific model way of reason. This occurring change is especially interesting to me because I can see part of my own reason that have borrowed from these revolutionary thinkers. I am the product of this change, just like we all are. One of my newly favorite thinkers has to be a French writer known widely by his pen name of Voltaire. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest thinkers of the Enlightenment era. He observed main aspects that govern life such as religion, wealth, and politics. He was able to see the interconnection between those aspects, and insisted on change through his own passion, which was writing. His life works accumulated to 20,000 papers and over 2,000 books. He was an absolute master of the craft and showed true signs of inspiration through his works. He would leave a masterpiece behind that would still be in relevance to this day.
Born on November 21, 1694, in Paris, France, Voltaire was the youngest of 5 children. He birth name was Francois- Marie Arouet, and then later adopted his pen name Voltaire. This was to make him sound younger and exciting. He was from a middle-class family that usually had the chance to associate with the elite circles of the country. His mother passed at his age of seven, which is significant because it made him more attached to his free-thinking godfather. He was a free sprit from an early age, or we would call him an orange in my class. He received his education from Collége Louis-le-Grand, which was a Jesuit secondary school in Paris. He was already showing promises of a writer by this time period of his life. This was going against the wishes of his father, who wished for his son to be a notary. This disagreement played a big role in his early adulthood, and got him into a few sticky situations. He was writing, when in fact he was supposed to be a notary assistant in Paris. When his father realized the truth, he ended up sending him to study law. You can really feel what Voltaire was going through at this point in his life. On one side, he was a young passionate gentleman that was slowly realizing his gifts. He didn’t clearly understand his own potential at this point, but intuitively felt his gifts. On the other hand, his father was slowly constructing his whole life for him. He even found him a high ranking job as an assistant to the French ambassador in Netherlands. Being a rebel, Voltaire fell in love with a French protestant refugee and was forced to come back to Paris by his father.
All of this tension combined with a free spirited character made Voltaire start getting in edgy situations with the law. He grew this disgust towards all types of authority. In my opinion, this characteristic was rooted in the times of him opposing his father. So in a way, he should appreciate the uptightness of his father, because it built him as a man. This distinctive trait of his caused him few exiles and even imprisonments. He wrote his first play, Oedipus, while being on his 11 month imprisonment. The production ran for 45 performances, success that sealed Voltaire’s reputation. He sharp skepticism of current belief system stood out at that time, and people intuitively seemed to be drawn to it, one of his famous quotes from the play being, “Virtue debases itself in justifying itself”( Voltaire, Oedipe, act II, scene IV). This kind of reason stirred many political tensions because it indirectly linked current political ties with parts of the play. He was only 19 while writing this play,