Famous quotes explained: « Work keeps three great evils away from us: boredom, vice, and need. », Candide, Voltaire, 1759.
This quote from Candide expresses, in a succinct manner, both the virtues of work and Voltaire’s thoughts on it.
Indeed, work, through the concentration it demands and the act of creating something, occupies the mind and helps to avoid boredom. As it takes time and healthily tires the body and mind, it leaves less room for vice. It is already a virtue in itself, unlike idleness, and therefore helps to combat the vice of idleness. Finally, through the remuneration it provides, it helps to avoid poverty and need. For Voltaire, work possesses all the qualities necessary.
Voltaire had a very Anglo-Saxon and liberal view of work, no doubt influenced by his years spent in England. Candide’s morality puts a strong emphasis on work, as evidenced by the famous quote, « we must cultivate our garden. » One meaning behind this quote is that one must work to progress in life. Voltaire’s advocacy for work goes even further, as he believed that a nation’s strength lay in its industrious and hardworking character.
Work keeps three great evils away from us: boredom, vice, and need
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