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A Philosophical Dictionary, Volume 5   By: (1694-1778)

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A PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY

VOLUME V

By

VOLTAIRE

EDITION DE LA PACIFICATION

THE WORKS OF VOLTAIRE

A CONTEMPORARY VERSION

With Notes by Tobias Smollett, Revised and Modernized New Translations by William F. Fleming, and an Introduction by Oliver H.G. Leigh

A CRITIQUE AND BIOGRAPHY

BY

THE RT. HON. JOHN MORLEY

FORTY THREE VOLUMES

One hundred and sixty eight designs, comprising reproductions of rare old engravings, steel plates, photogravures, and curious fac similes

VOLUME IX

E.R. DuMONT

PARIS LONDON NEW YORK CHICAGO

1901

The WORKS of VOLTAIRE

"Between two servants of Humanity, who appeared eighteen hundred years apart, there is a mysterious relation. Let us say it with a sentiment of profound respect: JESUS WEPT: VOLTAIRE SMILED. Of that divine tear and of that human smile is composed the sweetness of the present civilization."

VICTOR HUGO.

LIST OF PLATES VOL. V

SANS SOUCI Frontispiece A LAND STORM THE TEMPTATION OF ADAM DESCARTES

[Illustration: SANS SOUCI]

A PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY.

IN TEN VOLUMES

Vol. V

FANATICISM GREGORY VII

FANATICISM.

SECTION I.

Fanaticism is the effect of a false conscience, which makes religion subservient to the caprices of the imagination, and the excesses of the passions.

It arises, in general, from legislators entertaining too narrow views, or from their extending their regulations beyond the limits within which alone they were intended to operate. Their laws are made merely for a select society. When extended by zeal to a whole people, and transferred by ambition from one climate to another, some changes of institution should take place, some accommodation to persons, places, and circumstances. But what, in fact, has been the case? Certain minds, constituted in a great degree like those of the small original flock, have received a system with equal ardor, and become its apostles, and even its martyrs, rather than abate a single iota of its demands. Others, on the contrary, less ardent, or more attached to their prejudices of education, have struggled with energy against the new yoke, and consented to receive it only after considerable softenings and mitigations: hence the schism between rigorists and moderates, by which all are urged on to vehemence and madness the one party for servitude and the other for freedom.

Let us imagine an immense rotunda, a pantheon, with innumerable altars placed under its dome. Let us figure to ourselves a devotee of every sect, whether at present existing or extinct, at the feet of that divinity which he worships in his own peculiar way, under all the extravagant forms which human imagination has been able to invent. On the right we perceive one stretched on his back upon a mat, absorbed in contemplation, and awaiting the moment when the divine light shall come forth to inform his soul. On the left is a prostrate energumen striking his forehead against the ground, with a view to obtain from it an abundant produce. Here we see a man with the air and manner of a mountebank, dancing over the grave of him whom he invokes. There we observe a penitent, motionless and mute as the statue before which he has bent himself in humiliation. One, on the principle that God will not blush at his own resemblance, displays openly what modesty universally conceals; another, as if the artist would shudder at the sight of his own work, covers with an impenetrable veil his whole person and countenance; another turns his back upon the south, because from that quarter blows the devil's tempest. Another stretches out his arms towards the east, because there God first shows His radiant face. Young women, suffused with tears, bruise and gash their lovely persons under the idea of assuaging the demon of desire, although by means tending in fact rather to strengthen his influence; others again, in opposite attitudes, solicit the approaches of the Divinity... Continue reading book >>


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