Saturday, August 23, 2008
The Uses of Venom
Voltaire is the central figure of the Enlightenment, because he accepted its basic principles and used all his incomparable wit and energy and literary skill and brilliant malice to propagate these principles and spread havoc in the enemy's camp. Ridicule kills more surely than savage indignation: and Voltaire probably did more for the triumph of civilised values than any writer who ever lived.
- Isaiah Berlin, "The Divorce between the Sciences and the Humanities" in Against the Current: Essays in the History of Ideas