What is Candide's final philosophy of life?

In chapter 25 Voltaire had satirised an Epicurean Count Pococurante.  He is a man who has been given many things in life but, as his name implies, cares for very little.  He has little enthusiasm for:

  1. His expensive art collection.
  2. Most of the works of literature in his library.
  3. Most pieces of music.
  4. Most theatre.
  5. The beautiful girls he sleeps with.
  6. Theoretical science.

After meeting him, Candide's reaction is to praise him for being above all that he possesses.  However, Martin's comments on the negativity of his life; Chapter 25 page 135
«Or çà, dit Candide à Martin, vous conviendrez que voilà le plus heureux de tous les hommes, car il est au-dessus de tout ce qu'il possède.
« Ne voyez-vous pas, dit Martin, qu'il est dégoûté de tout ce qu'il possède? Platon a dit, il y a longtemps, que les meilleurs estomacs ne sont pas ceux qui rebutent tous les aliments

Candide would seem however to have retained some lessons from his meeting with Pococurante.  The philosophy which Candide adopts and applies to his life at the end of the book is very similar to Epicureanism.

What are the main ideas of Epicureanism?
There is a commonly held belief that Epicureans advocate living life solely for pleasure.  This is, in fact, a travesty of their philosophy.  It is true that Epicureans hold that people should organise their lives in such a way as to bring themselves the most pleasure.  However, they had very definite ideas about how this maximum pleasure could be achieved.  Among the recommendations for a pleasurable life were:

a) One should live a modest, abstemious life, not given to excess, including excesses of food and drink.

b) One should not seek to attach oneself too closely to any other person. This person might betray you, or desert you or die.

c) Be wary of love relationships. The jealousy and bitterness found in such relationships are not worth the transitory pleasure experienced at the height of the experience.

d) One should not allow oneself to become involved in anything which is potentially outside one’s control.  As a result, you should play no part in political or civic activities.

e) The Epicurean's against unproductive metaphysical speculation, recommending that one should concentrate instead on everyday practical matters.

f) Turning away from all of these diversions, one should gain solace from oneself alone.

The book would seem to illustrate the wisdom of these Epicurean principles

The danger of putting too much trust in other people
Although Candide does form his own little close group of friends, he is constantly deceived by those in whom he puts his trust.  This starts with deception of the Bulgare recruiting officers.  Candide is repeatedly cheated during his stay in Paris. 
The most devastating confidence trick was carried out by the Dutch merchant, Vanderdendur, who sailed off with the whole of Candide’s fabulous wealth, given to him in Eldorado. 
 The unsatisfactory nature of passionate sexual relationships
Candide is totally devoted to Cunégonde –although he does go astray in Paris-.  The same cannot be said for Cunégonde, on their arrival in Buenos Aires; she is prepared to consider leaving Candide when propositioned by the rich and powerful Spanish governor. 
The lesson that such relationships do no stand the test of time is shown in the long-awaited but disappointing reunion of Candide and Cunégonde in Constantinople. She has aged, lost her charms and has become difficult in character.  Candide has lost the girl who charmed him and whom he had loved for so long.

The lifestyle finally chosen by Candide. 
The way of life that Candide chose for himself and his group of friends in Constantinople accords with Epicurean ideas.

The modest lifestyle.
Candide had been attracted to a modest lifestyle following a chance meeting with an old Turkish man. They had seen him sitting outside his orange grove, when they were on their way back from seeing the Dervish.  The man invited Candide and his friends into his house and showed him great hospitality. Seeing how comfortable and contented the old man was, Candide commented that he must own a very fine property.  The Turk replied that he had only 20 acres, which was just what he needed for himself and his family. Chapter 30 page 149:

Je n'ai que vingt arpents, répondit le Turc- je les cultive avec mes enfants; le travail éloigne de nous trois grands maux, l'ennui, le vice, et le besoin.»

Candide is impressed by the lifestyle of the old man and says it is superior to that of the six deposed kings whom they recently me in Venice.

After he has lost all the remainder of his wealth, Candide seeks to make no more money than is sufficient for their needs.  This is achieved by all of them applying to tasks suited to their particular skills.   They tilled their area of land, Cunégonde baked, Paquette embroidered, the old woman did the laundry, and even the monk became a decent fellow, working as a carpenter.

Their retreat from any involvement in political or civic activities
It was the old Turk also who had illustrated to Candide the virtue of confining your interests to matters that were well within your control..  When Candide asked the Turk about the latest bloody, palace revolution in Constantinople, the Turk replied that he did not inquire what went on in Constantinople, but was content to send there the fruit he grew. Chapter 30 Page 148/9
J'ignore absolument l'aventure dont vous me parlez ; je présume qu'en général ceux qui se mêlent des affaires publiques périssent quelquefois misérablement, et qu'ils le méritent; mais je ne m'informe jamais de ce qu'on fait à Constantinople; je me contente d'y envoyer vendre les fruits du jardin que je cultive.».

Candide eventually adopts this principle and he and his group stay at home to cultivate their garden

Candide’s final rejection of metaphysical speculation
It was the Turkish Dervish who gave Candide  and his friends a very forceful warning against metaphysical speculation.  Pangloss had asked the Dervish what one could do in a world so filled with evil and suffering.  The Dervish replied you should hold your peace:
Chapter 30 page 148 – 
Que faut-il donc faire? dit Pangloss. Te taire, dit le derviche.

When Pangloss started to talk metaphysics the Dervish slammed the door in their faced.
« Je me flattais, dit Pangloss, de raisonner un peu avec vous des effets et des causes, du meilleur des mondes possibles, de l'origine du mal, de la nature de l'âme, et de l'harmonie préétablie.» 
Le derviche, à ces mots, leur ferma la porte au nez.

Candide accepted this lesson and realised that in order to achieve any sense of satisfaction, it was necessary to keep one’s thoughts on a more mundane practical level.   When Pangloss started to re-state his optimist philosophy, Candide silenced him, albeit more politely: Chapter 30 page 150:
Pangloss disait quelquefois à Candide:
- Tous les événements sont enchaînés dans le meilleur des mondes possibles: car enfin si vous n'aviez pas été chassé d'un beau château à grands coups de pied dans le derrière pour l'amour de mademoiselle Cuné­gonde, si vous n'aviez pas été mis à l'Inquisition, si vous n'aviez pas couru l'Amérique à pied, si vous n'aviez pas donné un bon coup d'épée au baron, si vous n'aviez pas perdu tous vos moutons du bon pays d'Eldorado vous ne mangeriez pas ici des cédrats confits et des pistaches
 - Cela est bien dit, répondit Candide, mais il faut cultiver notre jardin.

These final five words, now a universally known dictum, sum up the Epicurean ideals in the final lifestyle of Candide and his friends.

The final philosophy of Candide was also the final philosophy of Voltaire

In many respects, Voltaire’s description of Candide’s final situation in life has parallels with his own

When Voltaire wrote “Candide” in 1759, he had been living for the last four years in the relative safety of Switzerland.  His home was on an estate known as Les Délices not far from Geneva.  We are told that Voltaire had been struck by the similarity between the views from Constantinople, where he settles his character Candide and the views from his home over Lake Geneva.  During his stay at les Délices, Voltaire enjoyed working in his garden and so it is understandable that the recommendation to concern oneself with more practical matters is illustrated with cultivating one’s garden.

The retreat from the turmoil and dangers of public life, sought by Candide is also probably reflected in Voltaire’s frame of mind at this period.  Disillusioned by his experiences, he must have felt tempted to look away, like the old Turk, and take no further part in political and religious controversy.  In fact, he was unable to resist the temptation to re-engage in the fray. The fact that he ended his life with public and official acclaim on his return to Paris shows that, although he transgressed the Epicurean principle by taking this risk, he effectively maintained the basic principle of keeping events under his control.

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