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Name: Voltaire

Time Period: 1694-1778

Quote: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Brief Description: One of Voltaire's beliefs was that everything is relative. He was the author of Micromégas which is said to have a very contemporary "Science Fiction" feel to it. In the tale, aliens visit earth with senses and abilities beyond human comprehension, and they are so tall that they stand ankle deep in the Atlantic Ocean. At first they believe that Earth is has no life on it, and then with a magnifying glass they finally spot some whales. Eventually they discover, through the use of much more powerful lenses, human life and assume that we can not be capable of intelligent thought and even they complain how they feel limited with their own abilities even though they both live thousands of years and have extraordinary senses, so therefore humans must be insignificant. He was also an avid questioner of everything, especially science and warned his contemporaries to be wary of how much trust they put into science.

Current Relevance:  Voltaire makes a point, and a very good one. We assume that the human race is the most significant and the all other life forms are lower. On a smaller scale, we also often view our own accomplishments and tribulations with a certain subjectivity. The way that Voltaire's work Micromégas is relevant to modern society is more than obvious- just because we know something or are capable of something, that does not mean that someone else is not. Do not assume, be content with what you have and take it for what it is and let others do the same.
 

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