Cultivated character: Voltaire and Karel Čapek on the good gardener

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The paper unpacks the nuanced ethical potential in the metaphor of gardening that is depicted in Karel Čapek’s The Gardener’s Year, and the relevance of Čapek’s metaphor for understanding Voltaire’s famously ambiguous ending to Candide. Against more pessimistic or passive accounts of what Candide could have meant, the paper agrees with scholars who consider Candide’s maxim as meaning to engage in active, and communal practise of character development. By using Čapek’s much fuller account of the gardener in the practice of cultivation to fill in the gaps in Voltaire’s account, the paper shows that gardening is a rich metaphor of the virtuous person engaged in lifelong character cultivation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-189
Number of pages11
JournalEthics & Bioethics (In Central Europe)
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2020


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