Treatise on Tolerance by Voltaire

Treatise on Tolerance by Voltaire translated by Desmond M. Clarke is a very good edition, with a clear and informative introduction into the subject. I gave the book 4 stars, an average between 5 for translation and 3 for content. Voltaire started to write the Treatise on Toleration after a Toulouse merchant, Jean Calas, was accused of murdering his son and was executed on the wheel.

Treatise on Tolerance by Voltaire

Jean Calas was a Protestant and his son converted to Catholicism. His son committed suicide, but the authorities considered that he was killed by his father with the help of family because of his conversion to Catholicism. Calas was charged with killing his son, found guilty, and executed in a gruesome manner.

Voltaire was a deist, he believed in God, but not in organised religion and his disdain for the church is visible. He talks about tolerance, but his views are influenced by Locke, and he fells short of tolerating atheists. Locke was not exactly very tolerant either, with some religions and atheists. Regardless, the book is interesting to read, although all the passages from the bible tend to get boring at times, hence the 3 stars for content. Overall it is an important book to read, it shaped the modern thought and its value is undeniable.

Treatise on Tolerance by Voltaire

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My rating: 4/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: Penguin Classics
Year it was published: 2016
Format: Paperback
Genre(s): Philosophy
Pages: 208

About the author: In 1694, Age of Enlightenment leader Francois-Marie Arouet, known as Voltaire, was born in Paris. Jesuit-educated, he began writing clever verses by the age of 12. He launched a lifelong, successful playwriting career in 1718, interrupted by imprisonment in the Bastille. Upon a second imprisonment, in which Francois adopted the pen name Voltaire, he was released after agreeing to move to London.
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6 thoughts on “Treatise on Tolerance by Voltaire”

  • I’m most definitely in the ‘atheist’ camp, so I doubt whether my views would ever have been accepted. I can see I would probably have have been criminalised and died a very slow and painful death —— Mind you, I can think of some criminals these days, who could do with being treated in the same way as some of their predecessors. It might make others think twice before committing some of the heinous crimes we are regularly seeing lately. Prison is far too good for some of them, and most don’t even get a custodial sentence! —— Over the centuries so much blood has been spilled in the name of religion, it seems to be a war without end! —— This book probably wouldn’t be one for me either, although never say never πŸ™‚
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  • I’m not sure if I have the patience to read the Enlightenment philosophers though I would like to know more about them. Maybe one day they’ll be able to programme this stuff straight into our brains, so we can get the benefit of them without the hard work! πŸ˜‰

    • I think I like the hard work, having to decide what to read and, if I have to, like this one, actually enjoying the process. Although I would take advantage of the book-download-into-the-brain if is possible. πŸ™‚

    • It’s written in an accessible style. The bible references were a bit too many, but overall is not difficult and it’s quite short too. There should be copies at all libraries, if you fancy having a look.

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