Chapter 18 Questions:
Name: Isabella Tobón
Outline the basic contributions to the Enlightenment of the following individuals (15)
Denis Diderot first entered the church before leaving and working as a law clerk. He achieved fame
in the Enlightenment for editing Encyclopédie, which took up over twenty years of his life. He wrote on
science, philosophy and the arts, as well as plays and fiction, but left many of his works unpublished, partly as
a result of being imprisonment for his early writings.
Diderot only gained his reputation after his death, when
his work was published.
David Hume built his career after a nervous breakdown. He gained attention for his History of
England and established a name for himself among Enlightenment thinkers while working at the British
embassy in Paris. His best known work is the full three volumes of the Treatise of Human Nature; the work
was largely ignored by his contemporaries and only gained reputation afterwards.
Montesquieu was born into a prominent legal family. Montesquieu was a lawyer and president of the
Bordeaux Parlement. He first came to the attention of the Parisian literary world with his satire Persian
Letters, which tackled French institutions and the “Orient”, but is best known for The Spirit of the Laws.
Published in 1748, this was an examination of different forms of government which became one of the most
widely disseminated works of the Enlightenment, especially after the church added it to their banned list.
Voltaire is one of, if not the, most dominant Enlightenment figures, and his death is sometimes cited
as the end of the period. He was known for his wit and his defense of civil liberties, including both freedom of
religion and free trade. Voltaire was a prolific writer and produced works in almost every literary form
including plays, poetry, novels, essays, historical and scientific works, more than 20,000 letters and 2,000
books and pamphlets. He was supporter of social reform, despite strict censorship laws and harsh penalties for
those who broke them. A satirical polemicist, he frequently made use of his works to criticize Catholic
Church and the French institutions. He was imprisoned early in his career for his satires and spent time exiled
in England before a brief period as court historiographer to the French king.
He is perhaps best known today
for his satire Candide.
Pierre Bayle was a self-pronounced Protestant and he advocated a separation between the spheres of
faith and reason, on the grounds of God being incomprehensible to man. Bayle was a precursor of the
Encyclopedists and an advocate of the principle of the toleration of beliefs, his works influenced the
development of the Enlightenment. The Dictionary, attempted to put forth Bayle's view that much that was
considered to be truth was actually just in ground opinion, and that gullibility and stubbornness were
prevalent. The Dictionary would remain a highly important scholarly work for several generations after its