Jonathon Swift´s Gulliver´s Travels And Voltaire's Candide

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Most great literary works of the Enlightenment period were influenced by the intellectual exploration of reason at the time. This was certainly the case with Jonathon Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and Voltaire’s Candide. Both works explored the concept of reason in detail, questioning its capabilities and its limits. Swift and Voltaire were both engaged in the intellectual discussions of the Enlightenment and the influence of writers such as Pierre Bayle, John Locke, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and David Hume is extremely relevant to the study of their work. This paper will focus on the limitations of human reason as presented in GT and Candide, with focus given to the influence of man’s passions and emotions, as well as the conflict between reason and faith, drawing on the philosophy of the time as a guide.
In Pierre Bayle’s view, according to T.O Wedel, “man is an ungovernable animal, ruled by self-love, given over to evil incomparably more than to good, the slight glimmering of reason which has been left him usually worsted in
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John Locke stated that “the state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges everyone: and reason, which is that law teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.” Conrad Suites observed that there is a clear similarity between Locke’s statement and the Master Horses reaction to the human requirement of law. The Houyhnhnm is baffled and he says that “nature and reason were sufficient guide for a reasonable animal… in showing us what we ought to do, and what we ought to avoid.” Our institutions of law are “owing to our gross defects in reason” (pg253). To achieve perfect reason, we must be like the Houyhnhnms whose “grand maxim is, to cultivate Reason, and to be wholly governed by it.”
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