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A Philosophical Dictionary, Volume 6   By: (1694-1778)

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First Page:

A PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY

VOLUME VI

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 X

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. VI

VOLTAIRE'S HOME IN GENEVA Frontispiece THE ACROPOLIS AT ATHENS THE DUKE OF SULLY THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE INQUISITION IN PORTUGAL

[Illustration: GENEVA VOLTAIRE'S HOME IN THE SUBURBS.]

VOLTAIRE

A PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY

IN TEN VOLUMES

VOL. VI

HAPPY JOB

HAPPY HAPPILY.

What is called happiness is an abstract idea, composed of various ideas of pleasure; for he who has but a moment of pleasure is not a happy man, in like manner that a moment of grief constitutes not a miserable one. Pleasure is more transient than happiness, and happiness than felicity. When a person says I am happy at this moment, he abuses the word, and only means I am pleased. When pleasure is continuous, he may then call himself happy. When this happiness lasts a little longer, it is a state of felicity. We are sometimes very far from being happy in prosperity, just as a surfeited invalid eats nothing of a great feast prepared for him.

The ancient adage, "No person should be called happy before his death," seems to turn on very false principles, if we mean by this maxim that we should not give the name of happy to a man who had been so constantly from his birth to his last hour. This continuity of agreeable moments is rendered impossible by the constitution of our organs, by that of the elements on which we depend, and by that of mankind, on whom we depend still more. Constant happiness is the philosopher's stone of the soul; it is a great deal for us not to be a long time unhappy. A person whom we might suppose to have always enjoyed a happy life, who perishes miserably, would certainly merit the appellation of happy until his death, and we might boldly pronounce that he had been the happiest of men. Socrates might have been the happiest of the Greeks, although superstitious, absurd, or iniquitous judges, or all together, juridically poisoned him at the age of seventy years, on the suspicion that he believed in only one God.

The philosophical maxim so much agitated, " Nemo ante obitum felix ," therefore, appears absolutely false in every sense; and if it signifies that a happy man may die an unhappy death, it signifies nothing of consequence.

The proverb of being "Happy as a king" is still more false. Everybody knows how the vulgar deceive themselves.

It is asked, if one condition is happier than another; if man in general is happier than woman. It would be necessary to have tried all conditions, to have been man and woman like Tiresias and Iphis, to decide this question; still more would it be necessary to have lived in all conditions, with a mind equally proper to each; and we must have passed through all the possible states of man and woman to judge of it.

It is further queried, if of two men one is happier than the other. It is very clear that he who has the gout and stone, who loses his fortune, his honor, his wife and children, and who is condemned to be hanged immediately after having been mangled, is less happy in this world in everything than a young, vigorous sultan, or La Fontaine's cobbler... Continue reading book >>


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