Biography of Diderot

Biography of Diderot

Another of the important thinkers of the Enlightenment it was Denis Diderot. He was not remembered by the rebels of the French Revolution of 1789, but later on thanks to Hegel and Goethe. He had a very important role in the creation of the Encyclopedia and fraternized with most of the intellectuals of the Enlightenment.

Diderot was born on October 5, 1713 in Langres (France), within a wealthy artisan family. He ran away from the Jesuit college in his hometown and went to Paris. There he ended up getting the PhD in Arts (1732) and began to study law. He chose to dedicate himself to writing in what was the beginning of the bohemian life that he would lead for 10 years, in which he would meet Mably, Condillac, Voltaire and Rosseau.

In 1745 he translated the “Essay on Merit and Virtue" from Shaftesbury. This work allowed him to specify his ideas, which he expressed clearly in “Philosophical thoughts”In 1746, where he reflected his deist beliefs. In addition, this first stage was completed with a small essay on the sufficiency of natural religion.

In his work "Skeptic's Walk"In 1747, Diderot He wondered about the meaning of his life, while criticizing the extravagances of catholicism. Furthermore, he tried to establish a relationship between scientific discoveries and metaphysical speculation in "Letter about the blind”In 1749. These works elevated him as original thinker and, above all, as a great writer.

Shortly afterwards he was imprisoned in Vincennes and released. From then on, although he would carry out many more works, his main work was carried out at the head of the encyclopedia address. Between 1747 and 1772 this impressive cultural work was completed, which began in the hands of Diderot and of D’Alembert, and got to gather more than 150 thinkers and intellectuals of the time.

But, as already mentioned, the French thinker continued to work and strive on other fronts. He implemented art criticism (Salon, 1759-1781) and collaborated in the “Literary correspondence”From Grimm. It was the author who outlined the theory of a dynamic materialism and published some reflections on the theatrical aesthetics, calls "The comedian's paradox"Which he illustrated in"The natural child”(1757) and in“The father of the family” (1758).

Apart from these questions, Diderot has also been remembered to this day thanks to its important contribution to the novelistic world. He wrote several novels, among which stand out “The religious" Y "Jaques the fatalist”. The first was a story that reflected the life of his sister, who had died in a convent.

The second is considered by many authors as the first modern novel, with great links with “The Quijote" from Cervantes. Diderot also reflected his multifaceted talent in "Rameau's nephew" Y revived his tumultuous existence in "Letters to Sophie Volland”, Written where he posited as a defender of the abolition of slavery and creator of the greatest paradoxes of European literature.

In 1773, he traveled to Russia to thank Tsarina Catherine II for buying her library. This action on the part of the Russian leader is what prevented Diderot succumbed to financial debts that harassed him. But although he was disappointed in enlightened despotism, he did not attack the tsarina, but directed his resentment against Frederick II with the publication of "Sovereign Policy Principles”In 1774.

Further, made an apology for Seneca in the "Essay on the reigns of Claudius and Nero”(1779-1782). His political thinking became bolder in his later years ("Apology for Raynal", 1781) Y began to gain more popularity.

Diderot died on July 31, 1784 in Paris. Those who remembered him highlighted the fact of him being endowed with a universal curiosity and being a inexhaustible talker. His capacity for dialogue and his dramatic force set him apart from the rest of 18th century philosophers. His ideas originated and were expressed not so much according to rhetoric schemes, but following a logical dynamic order, which was not particularly common among thinkers of the time.

Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was a child he loved history and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.


Video: Denis Diderot - Heroes of the Enlightenment: The Power of Knowledge