How Voltaire Sought to Use His Writing to Change the Way People Thought and Behaved

In the latest of their “Literature” series, the School of Life offers insight into the brilliantly enlightened works of Voltaire, his desire to use his words to influence society, his questions about religion and his legendary desire to crush the despicable – ecrasez l’infâme.

Voltaire has said of himself that he wrote to act, and he wanted his writings to change the way people thought and behaved. In leading his crusades against fanaticism
he even invented a campaign slogan – ecrasez l’infâme -which translates roughly as “crush the despicable”. l’infâme stands here for everything that Voltaire hated. Everything that he had spent his life fighting. Superstition, intolerance, irrational behavior of every kind. …his name has become synonymous with a set of liberal values, freedom of speech, rejection of bigotry and superstition, belief in reason and tolerance. It’s a unique and nowadays, extremely precious legacy.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.