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Fanaticism and Confidence. Or extreme overconfidence in the form of bigotry

 Fanaticism and Confidence. Or extreme overconfidence in the form of bigotry


Fanaticism and Confidence.  Or extreme overconfidence in the form of bigotry

The most striking manifestation of the extreme stage of confidence is not even Overconfidence, but Fanaticism. As a vivid example describing the manifestation of FAITH, Voltaire's opinion about gentlemen fanatics, which has reached the extreme, is very interesting. And although Walter lived in the 17th century, the text is interesting and now, although it is emotionally filled with Voltaire's personal relationship to fanatics.  

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Fanaticism is for superstition - what frenzy is for fever, what frenzy is for malice. Anyone who has ecstasy, visions, who takes dreams for reality and fantasies for predictions is an enthusiast; the one who supports his madness by murders is a fanatic. Jean Diaz, who had retired to Nuremberg, was completely convinced that the pope was the antichrist of the Apocalypse, and that he had the mark of the beast on him: he was an enthusiast. His brother Bartolomeo Diaz, who set out from Rome to sacredly kill his brother, and, indeed, who killed him for the love of God, was one of the most disgusting fanatics ever created by superstition.

Polyeuct goes to the temple on the day of the solemn celebration, knocks over and breaks statues and ornaments: he is a fanatic, but not as terrible as Diaz, but no less stupid. The assassins of Duke François de Guise, William, Prince of Orange, King Henry III, King Henry IV and many others are demoniac, possessed by the same fury as Diaz.

The most disgusting example of fanaticism is the fanaticism of the Parisian bourgeois, who rushed to kill, cut, throw at windows, and tear to shreds their compatriots who did not go with them to mass.

There are cold-blooded fanatics: they are judges who sentence to death those whose only crime is to think differently from them; and these judges are all the more guilty, all the more worthy of contempt on the part of the human race, because they are not in a state of rage, like Clement, Chatelle, Ravallac, Gerard, Damien, and, it would seem, could heed the voice of reason.

Once the brain is affected by gangrene fanaticism, the disease becomes almost incurable. I saw frantic people who, speaking about the miracles of Saint Paris, gradually, against their will, were excited: their eyes flared up, limbs shook, madness distorted their features; they would kill anyone who contradicted them.

There is only one remedy against this epidemic disease: the philosophical spirit, which, spreading from person to person, finally softens the rights of people and prevents attacks of the disease: because as soon as this disease intensifies, one must run and wait for the air to clear. Laws and religion are powerless against the plague of souls; religion is far from serving souls with healthy food; in the polluted seas it becomes poison. These unfortunates constantly recall the examples of Eod who killed King Eglon; Judith, who chopped off the head of Holofernes, with whom she slept; Samuel, who hacked King Agag to pieces. They do not see that these examples, venerable in antiquity, are disgusting in our day; they draw their rage from the very religion that condemns them.

The laws are still completely powerless against these fits of rage; as if you would read the verdict of a violent madman. These people are confident that the holy spirit that pervades them is above the laws, that their enthusiasm is the only law that they must obey.

What will you answer to a person who tells you that he prefers to obey God, not people, and, therefore, is sure that he deserves the kingdom of God by killing you?

As a rule, fanatics are led by scoundrels, they put a dagger in their hands; they are like that Old Man from the Mountain who, they say, gave stupid people a taste of heavenly pleasures and promised eternity of these pleasures on condition that they go and kill all those whom he names. Only one religion in the world is not stained with fanaticism. This is the religion of the Chinese sages. The philosophical sects are not only free from this plague, but they served as a means against it, since the action of philosophy lies in the fact that it brings peace of mind, and fanaticism is incompatible with peace. If our holy religion has so often been distorted by this devilish rage, then human madness must be blamed.



Voltaire Pamphlets - Fanaticism

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