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Tuesday, November 21, 2023

'Words, like fire, the property of all'

“The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbours, kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all.” – Voltaire


One of history’s great thinkers and writers, François-Marie Arouet, known simply as Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and his advocacy of freedom of religion, speech, and the separation of church and state.  


Born in Paris on this date in 1694, he wrote down or espoused many of the ideas that influenced our own nation’s founding fathers (He was a longtime close friend of Benjamin Franklin, for example).   Voltaire had a massive writing output with over 2,000 books and pamphlets, myriad plays, poems, essays, historic and scientific works, and some 20,000 letters.


An outspoken advocate of civil liberties and individual rights, he is credited with a quote (or variations thereof) that served as inspiration for the United States’ 1st Amendment.  


"I may disapprove of what you say,” Voltaire said, “but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

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