The French Encyclopedists
The Encyclopedists removed from Deism the great factor of
natural religion, retaining only its critical method as applied to the history
of religion. The head of this school was Denis Diderot (d. 1784), and its great
organ of expression was the Encyclopedie.
The state censorship, however, compelled the projectors to call to their aid a number of contributors of conservative views and to bring their skeptical method to the task of defending the compromise between reason and revelation.
In this spirit the main religious
topics were treated, but by a subtle infusion of the spirit of Bayle and the
expedient of cross-references from these articles to topics which might be
handled with greater freedom, Diderot succeeded in supplying the desired
It was the circle of Holbach (d. 1789) that dared to apply the most extreme consequences of materialism to religious questions. Helvetius (d. 1771) prepared the way with his De l'esprit (1758), in which he expounded a materialistic psychology and ethics.
Their moral theories, deriving though they
did from Hobbes and Hume, lost all connection with the position of Deism, which
became for them a mere armory of weapons for the destruction of all religion
with its consequences, intolerance and moral corruption. Holbach is undoubtedly
the author of the Systeme de la nature, which appeared in 1770 as the
work of Mirabaud.
The Systeme is not original in ascribing the beginnings of religion to human hope and fear and to ignorance of the laws of nature. Fraud, ambition, and unhealthy enthusiasm have made use of it as a means of political and social influence and have succeeded in crystallizing its primitive emotions into positive creeds, within which animistic tendencies have been developed and subtilized into systems of metaphysics and theology -- the sources of irrational intolerance.
From Holbach and his circle, and from the cognate group of the Encyclopedists, proceeded the so-called ideological school, who held the main problem of philosophy to be the analysis of the mental conceptions aroused by sensations from the material world (Condorcet, Naigeon, Garat, Volney, Dupuis, Saint-Lambert, Laplace, Cabinis, De Tracy, J. B. Say, Benjamin Constant, Bichat, Lamarck, Saint-Simon, Thurot, Stendhal). Out of this school, in turn, developed the positivism of Comte. Ref. IEP
See Western Thought influenced by Zoroastrianism by Stephen Van Eck
- Classical Deist' View of Religion and Its Application Today
- Were the Three Magi Zoroastrian Pilgrims?
- Biblical Monotheism and Persian Influences
- More Questions on Zoroastrianism for Comparison
- Traditional Zoroastrianism Another View
- Early Life of Zoroaster From Zoroastrians
- Calling Jesus a Recreation of Zoroaster is Rubbish
- Zoroastrianism Influence on Christianity and Judaism Hard to Prove
- Zoroastrianism and Judaism According to the Jewish Encyclopedia
- Influence of Zoroastrianism On Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism
- Why Jesus was not Zoroaster or Buddha
- Is the Resemblance Between Zoroastrianism and Judaism Coincidence?
- Hellenism Meets Judaism
- Judaism Versus Zoroastrianism
- What are we to believe?
- Zoroastrians Keep Dwindling
- Under Judaism God Alone Does Good and Evil
- Problem of Original Source Material for Zoroastrianism
- My View Religion
- Debunking Theosophy
- Nazi Roots of Multicultural Racism
- Classical Deist' View of Religion
- Thomas Paine
- Christian Activism
- Christian Militias
- Assorted topics, etc.
- Zoroastrianism, Judaism, etc.