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Born Nov. 18, 1647, in Carla; died Dec. 28, 1706, in Rotterdam. French journalist and philosopher. Early representative of the Enlightenment.
Bayle was a professor at the Academy of Sedan (1675–82) and at Rotterdam University. (1681–92). His world view was formed under the influence of Montaigne’s skepticism, Descartes’s philosophy, and discoveries in the natural sciences made during the 17th century. His principal work is the Historical and Critical Dictionary (vols. 1–2, 1695–97; Russian translation, vols. 1–2, 1968). Bayle proceeded from tolerance and religious indifferentism to religious skepticism and expressed doubt about the possibility of a rational foundation for religious dogmas; he also asserted the independence of morality from religion. Bayle’s skepticism was also extended to philosophy and science, to which he felt only probability, not unconditional, authoritative truth, could be ascribed. The Dictionary played an exceptional role in the development of European freethinking. Bayle’s influence was felt above all by the figures of the French Enlightenment—Voltaire and the Encyclopedists—and also by L. Feuerbach (see Sobr. proizv., vol. 3, Moscow, 1967, pp. 3–318).
WORKSOeuvres diverses, vols. 1–4. The Hague, 1727–31.
REFERENCESShakhov, A. Vol’ter i ego vremia, 2nd ed. St. Petersburg, 1912.
Pikov, V. P’er Beil’. Moscow, 1933.
V. V. SOKOLOV