Bayle and Diderot

November 26 2012

In this cultural civil war [between ancient and modern learning], whose outcome carried the Western Civilization out of an Early Modern into a Late Modern chapter of its history, one of the signs of the times was the publication at Rotterdam, in A.D. 1695-7, of Pierre Bayle’s Dictionnaire Historique et Critique; for Bayle, the déraciné Southern French Protestant who had found his congenial second home at the meeting-point of an expanding Western World’s oceanic and inland waterways at Rotterdam, was one of the prophets of a Rationalism which was a revulsion from the Wars of Religion, and one of the founding fathers of a “Republic of Letters” which was a secular substitute for a lost Medieval Western Respublica Christiana, [footnote: An illuminating appreciation of Bayle’s personality, outlook, and work will be found in Hazard, P.: La Crise de la Conscience Européenne, 1680-1713 (Paris 1935, Boivin), pp. 101-18.] while Bayle’s dictionary was the parent of Diderot’s and d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie (editum A.D. 1751-65) [footnote: In eighteen volumes of text and four volumes of plates.] and thus the grandparent of all subsequent Western works of co-operative intellectual engineering […].

A Study of History, Vol IX, OUP, 1954

One Response to “Bayle and Diderot”

  1. davidderrick Says:

    He is thinking partly of Acton’s Cambridge Modern History in the last phrase.

    One should mention d’Alembert in the same breath as Diderot.

    Notable encyclopédistes:

    Jean Le Rond d’Alembert – editor; science (especially mathematics), contemporary affairs, philosophy, religion, other

    André Le Breton – chief publisher; article on printer’s ink

    Louis-Jean-Marie Daubenton – natural history

    Denis Diderot – chief editor; economics, mechanical arts, philosophy, politics, religion, other

    Baron d’Holbach – science (chemistry, mineralogy), politics, religion, other

    Chevalier Louis de Jaucourt – economics, literature, medicine, politics, bookbinding, other

    Jean-Baptiste de La Chapelle – mathematics

    Montesquieu – part of article on Goût (Taste)

    François Quesnay – articles on tax farmers and grain

    Jean-Jacques Rousseau – music, political theory

    Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, Baron de Laune – economics, etymology, philosophy, physics

    Voltaire – history, literature, philosophy


    From Bayle to Wales.

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