By Denis Diderot
This quantity offers a range of the political writings of 1 of the main major figures of the French enlightenment. It includes crucial articles that Diderot contributed to the Encyclopédie, of which he was once significant editor, the full texts of his Supplément au Voyage de Bougainville and Observations sur le Nakaz (translated into English the following for the 1st time), and a considerable variety of his contributions to Raynal's Histoire des Deux Indes. The editors' creation places those works in context, exhibiting their crucial beneficial properties and underlying coherence.
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Extra resources for Diderot: Political Writings
Together with d' Alembert and other contemporary thinkers, he was cominced that the esprit de systeme of seventeenth-century philosophy must be supplanted by a more empirical esprit �ystematique. Such attitudes were inspired both by Diderot's materialism - that is, his conviction that there was no intangible spirit or soul which motivated the behaviour of human beings - and his atheism - that is, his denial of the existence of a transcendent or immanent God. Other Enlightenment thinkers who wished to establish a science of man were drawn to Newtonian physics, and to mechanistic models of human nature, in opposition to the Cartesian distinction between mind and matter.
What is perhaps most notable about this passage is its resolutely non-humanistic perspective. Beneath all the endeavours of mankind is the rhythm of nature, which sets inescapable limits to what men can achieve; there is no uninterrupted progress and the future will always be uncertain. Diderot here began to elaborate a philosophy of history quite distinct from those then being formulated by German or Scottish thinkers. Herder and Kant also assimilated history to nature, but for them nature was essentially benign and in the long term favourable to humanity.
Such attitudes were inspired both by Diderot's materialism - that is, his conviction that there was no intangible spirit or soul which motivated the behaviour of human beings - and his atheism - that is, his denial of the existence of a transcendent or immanent God. Other Enlightenment thinkers who wished to establish a science of man were drawn to Newtonian physics, and to mechanistic models of human nature, in opposition to the Cartesian distinction between mind and matter. Diderot, however, objected to the doctrine that matter was essentially inert and that its motion was determined by external forces subject to mathematical laws.
Diderot: Political Writings by Denis Diderot