Bayle, Pierre
(1647–1706)
French philosopher and sceptic. Born of Protestant parents in the south west of France, Bayle was educated at Toulouse, became Catholic, lapsed, fled to Geneva, and then became professor in the Protestant academy at Sedan in northern France from 1675 to 1681, in which year he again fled from religious persecution to Holland. He lived in Rotterdam for the rest of his life, writing and corresponding with the philosophers and theologians of his time. His personal experience made him an impassioned defender of religious toleration, and an opponent of pretensions of reason in theological and metaphysical matters. Much of his energy was spent undermining the orthodox Calvinism of his time, represented by his one-time teacher, Jurieu, ostensibly on behalf of a true Calvinism based on revelation, but arguably in favour of religious scepticism . His attitude is captured in the remark quoted by Gibbon: ‘I am most truly a Protestant; for I protest indifferently against all systems and all sects.’
Bayle's critical and sceptical attitudes gained full expression in his masterpiece, the Dictionnaire historique et critique (1695–7, trs. as An Historical and Critical Dictionary, 1710). In this work Bayle combines historical treatments of religious and philosophical figures (most notably secondary and neglected ones) with a pervading scepticism. The dictionary is often witty and profane, and in its own time was notorious for advocating the complete separation of religion and morality, and for gleefully depicting the immoral lives of many people important to the Church. But its more substantial philosophical content made the Dictionary a sourcebook for all 18th-century discussions of difficulties with the Cartesian world view. It contains many of the arguments later deployed by Berkeley and Hume, and is undoubtedly the most important contribution to scepticism since Sextus Empiricus . Famous articles included those on Pyrrho, Rorarius (which heads an attack on Leibniz's theory of pre-established harmony), and Zeno of Elea (see Bayle's trilemma ).

Philosophy dictionary. . 2011.

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  • Bayle,Pierre — Bayle (bāl, bĕl), Pierre. 1647 1706. French philosopher and critic. Considered the progenitor of 18th century rationalism, he compiled the famous Dictionnaire historique et critique (1697) and championed the cause of religious tolerance. * * * …   Universalium

  • Bayle, Pierre — born Nov. 18, 1647, Carla le Comte, France died Dec. 28, 1706, Rotterdam, Neth. French philosopher. Educated at a Jesuit school, he converted to Roman Catholicism but later reverted to his original Calvinist faith. His religious views led to his… …   Universalium

  • BAYLE, Pierre — (1647–1706)    Philosopher. Bayle studied theology and philosophy in Toulouse and Geneva and was appointed professor at the Protestantacademy at Sedan in his native country France. After King Louis XIV closed this academy, Bayle, like so many… …   Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands

  • Bayle, Pierre — (1647 1706)    writer, philosopher    Born a Calvinist at Carla Bayle and educated at the jesuit College in Toulouse, Pierre Bayle converted to Roman Catholicism in 1669, but a year later again adopted Protestantism. In 1675, he became professor… …   France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present

  • Bayle, Pierre — See Renaissance philosophy outside Italy …   History of philosophy

  • Bayle, Pierre — ► (1647 1706) Filósofo francés. Su Diccionario histórico y crítico (1697) criticaba las ideas absurdas de su tiempo en materias científicas y religiosas. * * * (18 nov. 1647, Carla le Comte, Francia–28 dic. 1706, Rotterdam, Países Bajos).… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • BAYLE, PIERRE —    a native of Languedoc; first Protestant (as the son of a Calvinist minister), then Catholic, then sceptic; Professor of Philosophy at Padua, then at Rotterdam, and finally retired to the Boompjes in the latter city; known chiefly as the author …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • BAYLE, Pierre — (1647 1706)    French RATIONALIST philosopher whose work inspired many ENLIGHTENMENT thinkers …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • Bayle — Bayle, Pierre …   Philosophy dictionary

  • Bayle's — Bayle, Pierre …   Philosophy dictionary

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