- 新聞学評論 (ISSN:04886550)
- no.36, pp.1-13,195-196, 1987-04-30
Voltaire has been generally regarded as an absolute defender of freedom of expression. But Peter Gay in his work "Voltaire's Politics"opposes this legendary image of Voltaire. I agree fundamentally with Gay's point of view bacause in "Traite sur la tolerance" Voltaire repeatedly insisted "Pas de tolerance pour les ennemies de tolerance (Never tolerate the enemies of toleration.)" In this context Voltaire can be seen as a situational defender of freedom of expression. Based on that suggestion of Gay's, I discussed Where Voltaire attempted to estabish the boundary between issues worthy of pubic discussion and those not worthy of public discussion. Further, I examined the tactical significance of Voltaire's relative idea of freedom of expression relating it to the historical situation in his day.'The enemies of toleration' in his "Traite sur la tolerance" were Catholics in authority. But French Catholics in those days were divided.The two most dominant sects were Jesuits and Jansenists. The former exerted influence on 'roi' (the court) and the latter on 'parlement'(court of justice). The court was further divided into two factions-the progressives who were on intimate terms with 'philosophes', and the conservatives who were influenced by Catholic authority. In other words, the political situation in France in the 18th cerltunry was char-acterized by critical divisions within the 'establishment'. Voltaire managed to avoid censorship by his use of rhetoric, which revealed and deepend such divisions within the establishment. I described his tactics, drawing on an example from "Traife sur la tolerance". What was intolerance for Voltaire? According to him, intolerance was caused by an insistence on a particular view of the world, specifically, the clergy regarding their particular or private view of the world as general imposed it on many people who did not have a chance to develop their own judgment. The clergy wasted their time on religious disputes, libels etc., issues not worthy of being discussed. So, Voltaire insisted that one should nerer tolerate the enemies of toleration. It is obvious from the above that Voltaire's idea of freedom of expression was not one of absolute freedom in as much as it denied freedom to libel or to conduct religious debates. But in the context of the censorship situation at the time, this idea of incomplete freedom of expression was extremely effective tactically because, according to the censorship policy of those days, which was more tolerant to books than to newspapers or pamphlets, Catholics in authority should, at least in a nominal sense, be punished more frequenthy than "philosophes".