digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:

Agriculture

Applied sciences

Arts

Belief

Business

Chronology

Culture

Education

Environment

Geography

Health

History

Humanities

Language

Law

Life

Mathematics

Nature

People

Politics

Science

Society

Technology

Paul Heinrich Dietrich
Paul Heinrich Dietrich Baron d'Holbach Roslin.jpg
Paul Heinrich Dietrich, Baron d'Holbach
Born 1723
Edesheim near Landau, Rhenish Palatinate
Died 1789
Paris, France
Era 18th-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School French materialism
Main interests Atheism, Determinism, Materialism
Influences
Influenced
Insight into the Ludwigstrasse in Edesheim (Rhineland-Palatinate). The birthplace of Paul Henri Thiry d’Holbach was in the house n° 4. Old picture postcard from 1940.
Segment of his baptism certificate
Franz Adam Holbach's, or Adam François d’Holbach's house in Edesheim, Schloss Kupperwolf
Kasteel Heeze te Heeze, since the year 1733 in possession of François Adam d’Holbach. In 1735 additional buildings were erected. Paul Henri Thiry Holbach inherited this estate in 1750.
Portrait of Mme Charlotte Suzanne d´Holbach, his second wife. Oil painting from Alexander Roslin (1718-1793)
Le Château de Grand-Val; view of the park site
Church of Saint-Roch, front view of the church in which he and his friend Denis Diderot were buried.

Paul-Henri Thiry, Baron d'Holbach (French: [dɔlbak]; was a French-German author, philosopher, encyclopedist and a prominent figure in the French Enlightenment. He was born Paul Heinrich Dietrich in Edesheim, near Landau in the Rhenish Palatinate, but lived and worked mainly in Paris, where he kept a salon. He was well known for his atheism[2] and for his voluminous writings against religion, the most famous of them being The System of Nature (1770).

Biography[edit]

Background[edit]

Sources differ regarding d'Holbach's dates of birth and death. His exact birthday is unknown, although records show that he was baptised on 8 December 1723.[citation needed] Some authorities incorrectly give June 1789 as the month of his death.

D’Holbach's mother Catherine Jacobina née Holbach (1684–1743) was the daughter of Johannes Jacobus Holbach (died 1723) the Prince-Bishop's tax collector for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Speyer. His father, Johann Jakob Dietrich, (with other notations: ger.: Johann Jakob Dirre; fr.: Jean Jacques Thiry) (1672–1756) was a wine-grower.

D’Holbach wrote nothing of his childhood[citation needed] though it is known he was raised in Paris by his uncle Franz Adam Holbach, (or Adam François d’Holbach or Messire François-Adam, Baron d’Holbach, Seigneur de Heeze, Leende et autres Lieux)[3] (approx. 1675–1753), who had become a millionaire by speculating on the Paris stock-exchange. With his financial support, d’Holbach attended the Leiden University from 1744 to 1748 and went on to marry his second cousin, Basile-Geneviève d'Aine (1728–1754), on 11 December 1750. In 1753, a son was born: Francois Nicholas who left France before his father passed. Francois moved through Germany, Holland, and England before arriving in USA (per American family bible/German and Italian references). In 1753 both his uncle and his father died, leaving d'Holbach with an enormous inheritance, such as Heeze Castle, Kasteel Heeze te Heeze.

D’Holbach would remain wealthy throughout his life.[4] In 1754, his wife died from an unknown disease. The distraught d’Holbach moved to the provinces for a brief period with his friend Baron Grimm and in the following year received a special dispensation from the Pope to marry his deceased wife's sister, Charlotte-Suzanne d’Aine (1733–1814).[5] They had a son, Charles-Marius (1757–1832) and two daughters Amélie-Suzanne (13 January 1759) and Louise-Pauline (19 December 1759 – 1830).[6]

D'Holbach's salon[edit]

Further information: D'Holbach's Coterie

From c. 1750 to c. 1780, Baron d'Holbach used his wealth to maintain one of the more notable and lavish Parisian salons, which soon became an important meeting place for the contributors to the Encyclopédie.

Meetings were held regularly twice a week, on Sundays and Thursdays, in d'Holbach's home in rue Royale.[7][8] Visitors to the salon were exclusively males, and the tone of discussion highbrow, often extending to topics more extensive than those of other salons.[9] This, along with the excellent food, expensive wine, and a library of over 3000 volumes, attracted many notable visitors. Among the regulars in attendance at the salon—the coterie holbachique—were the following: Diderot, Grimm, Condillac, Condorcet, D'Alembert, Marmontel, Turgot, La Condamine, Raynal, Helvétius, Galiani, Morellet, Naigeon and, for a time, Jean-Jacques Rousseau.[10] The salon was also visited by prominent British intellectuals, amongst them Adam Smith, David Hume, John Wilkes, Horace Walpole, Edward Gibbon, David Garrick, Laurence Sterne, and (probably) one American—Benjamin Franklin.[11]

During the summer months, when Paris was hot and humid, Baron d'Holbach retreated to his country estate at Grandval, Le Château de Grand-Val[12] (Sucy-en-Brie today N° 27 rue du Grand-Val on the outskirts of Paris (Département Val-de-Marne).[13][14] There he would invite friends to stay for a few days or weeks, and every year he invited Denis Diderot.[15]

D'Holbach was known for his generosity, often providing financial support discreetly or anonymously to his friends, amongst them Diderot. It is thought that the virtuous atheist Wolmar in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse is based on d'Holbach.[4]

Holbach died in Paris on 21 January 1789, a few months before the French Revolution.[16] The authorship of his various anti-religious works did not become widely known until the early 19th century. Ironically, he was buried in the Church of Saint-Roch, Paris. The exact location of the grave is unknown.[17]

Writings[edit]

Contributions to the Encyclopédie[edit]

Main article: Encyclopédie

For the Encyclopédie d'Holbach authored and translated a large number of articles on topics ranging from politics and religion to chemistry and mineralogy. As a German who had become a naturalised Frenchman, he undertook the translation of many contemporary German works of natural philosophy into French. All in all, between 1751 and 1765 he contributed some four hundred articles to the project, mostly on scientific subjects, in addition to serving as the editor of several volumes on natural philosophy. D'Holbach may also have written several disparaging entries on non-Christian religions, intended as veiled criticisms of Christianity itself.[18]

Anti-religious works[edit]

Despite his extensive contributions to the Encyclopédie, d'Holbach is better known today for his philosophical writings, all of which were published anonymously or under pseudonyms and printed outside of France, usually in Amsterdam by Marc-Michel Rey. His philosophy was expressly materialistic and atheistic and is today categorised into the philosophical movement called French materialism. In 1761 Christianisme dévoilé ("Christianity Unveiled") appeared, in which he attacked Christianity and religion in general as an impediment to the moral advancement of humanity. The deistic Voltaire, denying authorship of the work, made known his aversion to d'Holbach's philosophy, writing that "[the work] is entirely opposed to my principles. This book leads to an atheistic philosophy that I detest."[19] Christianity Unveiled was followed by others, notably La Contagion sacrée (1768 - "The Sacred Contagion"), Théologie portative (1768 - "Portable Theology") and Essai sur les préjugés (1770 - "Essay on prejudice"). D'Holbach was helped in these endeavours by Jacques-André Naigeon, who would later become his literary executor.

The System of Nature[edit]

Main article: The System of Nature

In 1770, d'Holbach published his most famous book, The System of Nature (Le Système de la nature), under the name of Jean-Baptiste de Mirabaud, the secretary of the Académie française who had died ten years previously. Denying the existence of a deity, and refusing to admit as evidence all a priori arguments, d'Holbach saw the universe as nothing more than matter in motion, bound by inexorable natural laws of cause and effect. There is, he wrote "no necessity to have recourse to supernatural powers to account for the formation of things."[20]

The System of Nature is a long and extensive work presenting a thoroughly naturalistic view of the world. Some d'Holbach scholars have pointed out that Denis Diderot was a close personal friend of d'Holbach's, and that it is unclear to what extent d'Holbach was influenced by him. Indeed, Diderot may possibly have been the author of parts of the System of Nature.[21] Regardless, however, of the extent of Diderot's contribution to the System of Nature, it is on the basis of this work that d'Holbach's philosophy has been called "the culmination of French materialism and atheism."[22]

D'Holbach's objectives in challenging religion were primarily moral: He saw the institutions of Christianity as a major obstacle to the improvement of society. For him, the foundation of morality was to be sought not in Scripture but in happiness: "It would be useless and almost unjust to insist upon a man's being virtuous if he cannot be so without being unhappy. So long as vice renders him happy, he should love vice."[23] D'Holbach's radicalism posited that humans were fundamentally motivated by the pursuit of enlightened self-interest, which is what he meant by "society," rather than by empty and selfish gratification of purely individual needs. Chapter 15 of Part I of System of Nature is titled "Of Man's true Interest, or of the Ideas he forms to himself of Happiness.--Man cannot be happy without Virtue."[24]

It is quite natural in man, it is extremely reasonable, it is absolutely necessary, to desire those things which can contribute to augment the sum of his felicity. Pleasure, riches, power, are objects worthy his ambition, deserving his most strenuous efforts, when he has learned how to employ them; when he has acquired the faculty of making them render his existence really more agreeable. It is impossible to censure him who desires them, to despise him who commands them, but when to obtain them he employs odious means; or when after he has obtained them he makes a pernicious use of them, injurious to himself, prejudicial to others; let him wish for power, let him seek after grandeur, let him be ambitious of reputation, when he can show just pretensions to them; when he can obtain them, without making the purchase at the expense of his own repose, or that of the beings with whom he lives: let him desire riches, when he knows how to make a use of them that is truly advantageous for himself, really beneficial for others; but never let him employ those means to procure them of which he may be ashamed; with which he may be obliged to reproach himself; which may draw upon him the hatred of his associates; or which may render him obnoxious to the castigation of society: let him always recollect, that his solid happiness should rest its foundations upon its own esteem,--upon the advantages he procures for others; above all, never let him for a moment forget, that of all the objects to which his ambition may point, the most impracticable for a being who lives in society, is that of attempting to render himself exclusively happy. From System of Nature, Chapter 15, Part I.

Baron d’Holbach

The explicitly atheistic and materialistic The System of Nature presented a core of radical ideas which many contemporaries, both churchmen and philosophes found disturbing, and thus prompted a strong reaction. The Catholic Church in France threatened the crown with withdrawal of financial support unless it effectively suppressed the circulation of the book. The list of people writing refutations of the work was long. The Roman Catholic Church had its pre-eminent theologian Nicolas-Sylvestre Bergier write a refutation of the Système titled Examen du matérialisme (Materialism examined). Voltaire hastily seized his pen to refute the philosophy of the Système in the article "Dieu" in his Dictionnaire philosophique, while Frederick the Great also drew up an answer to it. Its principles are summed up in a more popular form in d'Holbach's Common Sense, or Natural Ideas Opposed to Supernatural (Bon Sens, on idées naturelles opposees aux idées surnaturelles) (Amsterdam, 1772).

Politics and morals[edit]

D'Holbach by Louis Carmontelle

In his last works, d'Holbach's attention largely shifts away from religious metaphysics towards moral and political questions. In the Système social (1773), the Politique naturelle (1773–1774) and the Morale universelle (1776) he attempts to describe a system of morality in place of the Christian one he had so fiercely attacked, but these later writings were not as popular or influential as his earlier work.[citation needed] D'Holbach was strongly critical of abuses of power in France and abroad. Contrary to the revolutionary spirit of the time however, he called for the educated classes to reform the corrupt system of government and warned against revolution, democracy, and mob rule.

His political and ethical views were influenced by British materialist Thomas Hobbes. D'Holbach had personally translated Hobbes' work De Homine ("Of Man") into French.[25]

Death[edit]

It is thought to have taken place shortly before the French Revolution. He was buried on January 21, 1789, in the ossuarium beneath the alter in the parish church of Saint-Roch, Paris. This ossuarium was ransacked twice, once during the French Revolution and again during the 1871 Paris Commune, disturbing the remains of those buried there. While the bones are still in the ossuarium, they are scattered across the room, making it impossible to determine which bone belongs with which skeleton.[26]

Influences[edit]

The materialistic philosophy of Baron d'Holbach had an influence in the historical materialism of Karl Marx, who studied the ideas of d'Holbach and his fellow French thinker Helvetius in Paris.[27]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ D'Holbach, Baron. Good Sense paragraph 206
  2. ^ Cliteur, Paul (2010). The Secular Outlook: In Defense of Moral and Political Secularism. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 21. ISBN 978-1444335217. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  3. ^ Cushing, Max Pearson: Baron D’holbach A Study Of Eighteenth Century Radicalism. Kessinger Pub. Co. (2004), p.5
  4. ^ a b Michael LeBuffe, "Paul-Henri Thiry (Baron) d’Holbach", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2006 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)[1]
  5. ^ Max Pearson Cushing, Baron d’Holbach: A Study of Eighteenth Century Radicalism in France
  6. ^   Charlotte DAINE (2012-01-18). "Genealogy Charlotte d’Aine". Gw1.geneanet.org. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  7. ^ Today the address is 10, rue des Moulins, which is near The Louvre and the Jardin Royal, and not 500 meters from the parish church Saint-Roche where he, Denis Diderot, and many other notables would be buried. The address was changed during Haussmann's renovation of Paris.
  8. ^ Blom, Philipp: A Wicked Company. The Forgotten Radicalism of the European Enlightenment. Basic Books, New York, (2010), pp. xi, xii, 1, ISBN 978-0-465-01453-8.
  9. ^ For an in-depth discussion of d'Holbach's "coterie", see Alan Charles Kors, D'Holbach's Coterie: An Enlightenment in Paris (Princeton University Press, 1976). Also Dena Goodman, The Republic of Letters: A Cultural History of the French Enlightenment (Cornell University Press, 1996)
  10. ^ Frank A. Kafker: Notices sur les auteurs des dix-sept volumes de « discours » de l'Encyclopédie. Recherches sur Diderot et sur l'Encyclopédie. 1989, Volume 7, Numéro 7, p. 143–144
  11. ^ Blom, Philipp, Enlightening the world: Encyclopédie, the book that changed the course of history, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005, p. 124, ISBN 1-4039-6895-0.
  12. ^ "Old photograph of the in 1949 destroyed building.". Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  13. ^ Cushing, Max Pearson: Baron D’holbach A Study Of Eighteenth Century Radicalism. Kessinger Pub. Co. (2004), p.11
  14. ^ "Pictures and a short presentation of the history of the building in french language". Fr.topic-topos.com. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  15. ^ Blom, Philipp: A Wicked Company. The Forgotten Radicalism of the European Enlightenment. Basic Books, New York, (2010), p. 181, ISBN 978-0-465-01453-8.
  16. ^ Sources differ regarding d'Holbach's dates of birth and death. His exact birthday is unknown, although records show that he was baptised on 8 December 1723. Some authorities incorrectly give June 1789 as the month of his death.
  17. ^ Blom, Philipp: A Wicked Company. The Forgotten Radicalism of the European Enlightenment. Basic Books, New York, (2010), p. 302, ISBN 978-0-465-01453-8.
  18. ^ T. C. Newland, "D'Holbach, Religion, and the 'Encyclopédie'", Modern Language Review, Vol. 69, No. 3, (Jul., 1974), pp. 523–533.
  19. ^ Voltaire, Oeuvres, xxxvii. 23.
  20. ^ Paul Henri Thiry, Baron d'Holbach, System of Nature; or, the Laws of the Moral and Physical World (London, 1797), Vol. 1, p. 25
  21. ^ Virgil V. Topazio, "Diderot's Supposed Contribution to D'Holbach's Works", in Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, LXIX, 1, 1954, pp. 173-188.
  22. ^ Virgil W. Topazio, D'Holbach's Moral Philosophy: Its Background and Development (Geneva: Institut et Musée Voltaire, 1956), p. 117.
  23. ^ Paul Henri Thiry, Baron d'Holbach, System of Nature; or, the Laws of the Moral and Physical World (London, 1797), Vol. 1, p. 109
  24. ^ "Chapter XV, Pt I, English translation, 1820". Ftarchives.net. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  25. ^ Baron d'Holbach, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  26. ^ Blom, Philipp: A Wicked Company. The Forgotten Radicalism of the European Enlightenment. Basic Books, New York, (2010), pp. xii, 302, ISBN 978-0-465-01453-8.
  27. ^ Mehring, Franz, Karl Marx: The Story of His Life (Routledge, 2003) pg. 75
  • Philipp Blom: Böse Philosophen: Ein Salon in Paris und das vergessene Erbe der Aufklärung. Hanser, München 2011, ISBN 978-3-446-23648-6

Bibliography[edit]

Works[edit]

Secondary literature[edit]

English[edit]

  • Mark Curran, Atheism, Religion and Enlightenment in pre-Revolutionary Europe (Royal Historical Society, 2012).
  • Jonathan Israel, A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy (Princeton University Press 2010).
  • David Holohan (Translator), Christianity Unveiled by Baron d'Holbach: A Controversy in Documents, (Hodgson Press, 2008).
  • Max Pearson Cushing, Baron d'Holbach: a study of eighteenth-century radicalism in France (New York, 1914).
  • Alan Charles Kors, D'Holbach's Coterie: An Enlightenment in Paris (Princeton University Press, 1976).
  • Alan Charles Kors, "The Atheism of D'Holbach and Naigeon", Atheism from the Reformation to the Enlightenment (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992).
  • John Lough, "Helvétius and d'Holbach", Modern Language Review, Vol. 33, No. 3. (Jul., 1938).
  • T. C. Newland, "D'Holbach, Religion, and the 'Encyclopédie'", Modern Language Review, Vol. 69, No. 3, (Jul., 1974), pp. 523–533.
  • Virgil W. Topazio, D'Holbach's Moral Philosophy: Its Background and Development (Geneva: Institut et Musée Voltaire, 1956).
  • Everett C. Ladd, Jr., "Helvétius and d'Holbach", Journal of the History of Ideas (1962) 23(2): 221-238.
  • Virgil V. Topazio, "Diderot's Supposed Contribution to D'Holbach's Works", in Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, LXIX, 1, 1954, pp. 173–188.
  • S. G. Tallentyre (pseud. for Evelyn Beatrice Hall), The Friends of Voltaire (1907).
  • W. H. Wickwar, Baron d'Holbach: A Prelude to the French Revolution (1935)
  • G. V. Plekhanov, Essays in the History of Materialism (trans. 1934)
  • John Lough, Essays on the Encyclopédie of Diderot and D'Alembert (London : Oxford University Press, 1968)

German[edit]

  • Philipp Blom: Böse Philosophen: Ein Salon in Paris und das vergessene Erbe der Aufklärung. Hanser, München 2011, ISBN 978-3-446-23648-6

French[edit]

  • René Hubert, D'Holbach et ses amis (Paris: André Delpeuch, 1928).
  • Paul Naville, D'Holbach et la philosophie scientifique au XVIIIe siècle. Rev. ed. Paris, 1967
  • J. Vercruysse, Bibliographie descriptive des écrits du baron d'Holbach (Paris, 1971).
  • A. Sandrier, Le style philosophique du baron d'Holbach, Honoré Champion (Paris, 2004).

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baron_d'Holbach — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
171 videos foundNext > 

A Brief History of Disbelief Baron D'Holbach

18th-Century Philosopher Baron d'Holbach on the Gods

Reading by Bernard Hill. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baron_d%27Holbach.

12b Determinism and Human Freedom - d'Holbach, naturalism

Baron D'Holbach - Good Sense - Section 1

In 1770, Baron D'Holbach published his masterpiece, "Systeme de la Nature", which for a long time passed as the posthumous work of M. de Mirabaud. That text-...

Baron d' Holbach (1723-1789), Good Sense Without God, (1770) Introduction

This is a link to the book. It was published pseudonymously in 1770. (140 pages long today) http://www.gutenberg.org/files/7319/7319-h/7319-h.htm#link2H_4_00...

The System of Nature by Baron d'Holbach book review

This is a book review on The System of Nature by the atheist materialist philosopher Paul Henri Theiry Baron d'Holbach. This is often regarded as being the f...

Baron d'Holbach

Made for educational purposes.

Baron D'Holbach

Euro Project for the philosophe Baron D'Holbach NOTE: I realize now that the picture within the first 12 seconds of this video is incorrect. Sorry!

Baron D'Holbach - Good Sense Preface

In 1770, Baron D'Holbach published his masterpiece, "Systeme de la Nature", which for a long time passed as the posthumous work of M. de Mirabaud. That text-...

Baron D'Holbach - Good Sense - Section 4

In 1770, Baron D'Holbach published his masterpiece, "Systeme de la Nature", which for a long time passed as the posthumous work of M. de Mirabaud. That text-...

171 videos foundNext > 

We're sorry, but there's no news about "Baron d'Holbach" right now.

Loading

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Talk About Baron d'Holbach

You can talk about Baron d'Holbach with people all over the world in our discussions.

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!