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Encyclopédie(äNsēklôpādē`), the work of the French Encyclopedists, or philosophes. The full title was Encyclopédie; ou, Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts, et des métiers. This work was originally planned as a translation of Ephraim Chambers's Cyclopedia (1st ed. 1728), and the first editor was the Abbé Gua de Malves. The project was abandoned because of disagreements, and Le Breton, the publisher, agreed to let Denis DiderotDiderot, Denis
, 1713–84, French encyclopedist, philosopher of materialism, and critic of art and literature, b. Langres. He was also a novelist, satirist, and dramatist. Diderot was enormously influential in shaping the rationalistic spirit of the 18th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. and Jean le Rond d'AlembertAlembert, Jean le Rond d'
, 1717–83, French mathematician and philosopher. The illegitimate son of the chevalier Destouches, he was named for the St. Jean le Rond church, on whose steps he was found. His father had him educated.
..... Click the link for more information. edit an entirely new work. With the aid of QuesnayQuesnay, François
, 1694–1774, French economist, founder of the physiocratic school. A physician to Louis XV, he did not begin his economic studies until 1756, when he wrote the articles "Fermiers" [farmers] and "Grains" for the Encyclopédie.
..... Click the link for more information. , MontesquieuMontesquieu, Charles Louis de Secondat, baron de la Brède et de
, 1689–1755, French jurist and political philosopher. He was councillor (1714) of the parlement of Bordeaux and its president (1716–28) after the death of an uncle, whom he succeeded in both title
..... Click the link for more information. , VoltaireVoltaire, François Marie Arouet de
, 1694–1778, French philosopher and author, whose original name was Arouet. One of the towering geniuses in literary and intellectual history, Voltaire personifies the Enlightenment.
..... Click the link for more information. , J. J. RousseauRousseau, Jean Jacques
, 1712–78, Swiss-French philosopher, author, political theorist, and composer. Life and Works
Rousseau was born at Geneva, the son of a Calvinist watchmaker.
..... Click the link for more information. , TurgotTurgot, Anne Robert Jacques
, 1727–81, French economist, comptroller general of finances (1774–76). The son of a rich merchant, he showed precocious ability at school and at the Sorbonne.
..... Click the link for more information. , and others, the two editors produced the first volume in 1751, with a famous "preliminary discourse" signed by Alembert. The discourse indicated the aims of the project and then presented definitions and histories of science and the arts. The rational, secular emphasis of the whole volume infuriated the Jesuits, who attacked the work as irreligious and used their influence to convince the government to withdraw (1759) the official permit. Alembert resigned as editor. The project was able to continue, however, as a result of Diderot's perseverance and the support he received from the statesman Malesherbes. With the help of the chevalier de Jaucourt, Diderot brought the clandestine printing of the work to completion in 1772. Of the 28 volumes, 11 were devoted to plates illustrating the industrial arts; Diderot compiled this information and made the drawings. When the work was in page proof, Diderot discovered that deletions made by the printer had mutilated many articles containing liberal opinions. Despite this unofficial censorship the Encyclopédie championed the skepticism and rationalism of the EnlightenmentEnlightenment,
term applied to the mainstream of thought of 18th-century Europe and America. Background and Basic Tenets
The scientific and intellectual developments of the 17th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. . By 1780 a five-volume supplement and a two-volume index were added, compiled under other editors. The success of the Encyclopédie was immediate, and its influence was incalculable. Through its stress on scientific determinism and its attacks on legal, juridical, and clerical abuses, the Encyclopédie was a major factor in the intellectual preparation for the French Revolution.
See selections ed. by N. S. Hoyt and T. Cassirer (tr. 1965); R. N. Schwab et al., Inventory of Diderot's Encyclopédie (1971); J. Lough, The Encyclopédie (1971).