Moments of Islamic and Orientalist Discourse in the Anticlerical Perspective of Voltaire
AbstractIn his well-known anticlerical views, part of the larger context of the Enlightenment’s anticlericalism, Voltaire seems to represent an interesting case, as he utilizes phenomena and features of other religions to exert implicit criticism to Christianity. His tragedy Le fanatisme ou Mahomet le prophète, although focused in the character of the Prophet Muhammad, rather than criticizing the latter, seems to imply sharp criticism to religion in general and especially to Christianity and the Church. On the contrary, Voltaire even appraises the Prophet Muhammad in many cases for the way he established a new religion and fought against the old order. But even in such praise, he manifests an orientalist approach based on what N. Daniel called “doctrine about doctrine” and seems to support all the already traditional views on Islam and the Islamic society, established in the West since the middle ages.
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