- Diderot, Denis
- (1713–1784)The principal editor of the Encyclopédie , and together with Voltaire the leading figure of the 18th-century Enlightenment in France, enjoying a long and eventful career dedicated to the acquisition and dissemination of learning. Diderot was an outspoken champion of the modern, secular, and scientific world view in an age where free-thinking was still dangerous in France. His philosophical works include Le Neveu de Rameau (composed in the 1760s, pub. in German, 1805, trs. as Rameau's Nephew ) and Le Ràve de D’Alembert (composed in 1769, pub. 1782, trs. as D’Alembert's Dream ) both of which breathe a delightful spirit of conversational play and banter, while in fact discussing with great seriousness the foundations of ethics and the nature of animal creation, albeit in the light of the speculative biology of the time. He burned what he believed to be the only manuscript of the latter work, in the presence of D’Alembert, who had been asked to seek its destruction by the saloniste Julie de l’Espinasse, who appears in the story. Fortunately, unknown to Diderot, an additional copy had been made.
Philosophy dictionary. Academic. 2011.