Denis Diderotthe French encyclopedist, philosopher, satirist, dramatist, novelist, and literary and art critic, was the most versatile thinker of his times and a key figure in the advancement of Enlightenment philosophy. Born in Langres, son of a master cutler, Diderot was a brilliant student in the local Jesuit schools.
He was sent to college in Paris and received his Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction degree at the age of nineteen. Afterward, he refused to adopt a regular profession and, when his allowance was cut off, lived for many years in poverty and obscurity.
His great ambition was to acquire knowledge. In this he was eminently successful, for he emerged from this
Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction of self-education with an excellent of mathematics and considerable proficiency in the Greek, Italian, and English languages. He first came into public notice as a translator
Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction English works — a history Greece, the earl of Shaftesbury's Inquiry concerning Virtue and Meritand Robert James's Medicinal Dictionary — This enterprise was his chief occupation and source of income until The boldness of his thought, in spite of the dexterity with which he attempted to
Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction it, met almost instant opposition, resulting in the seizure of manuscripts, censorship, and temporary suppression.
Only a man of Diderot's indomitable courage and determination could have brought the project to a successful conclusion. For this and other suspect works he was seized by the police and spent a few uncomfortable months in the prison of Vincennes. His reputation in his parish as a materialistic atheist was catching Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction with him.
The subsequent Lettre sur les sourds et muets Letter on the deaf and dumb;equally original, was mild enough to escape persecution. Le neveu de Rameau Rameau's nephewa scathing satire of eighteenth-century society, the novels La religieuse The nun and Jacques le Fataliste Jacques the Fatalistwhich saw the light of day only after the French Revolutionas well as various short stories and dialogues, were all of ethical import.
Diderot knew that his ideas were too advanced for his own generation, but he maintained the conviction that he would some day be appreciated at his true value. Petersburg by way of Holland and spent some months in in intimate conversations with Catherine the Great.
Persuaded of his merit through Grimm, she had not only paid in
Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction for his library he desperately needed the money as a dowry for his daughter but also gave him a salary as its custodian until his death. Baron d'Holbach's System of Naturefrankly atheistic and materialistic, had drawn the line between atheism and deism, and both Catherine and Frederick II took the side of the less revolutionary Voltaire.
Since Diderot supported Holbach in this controversy, his political Observations on Catherine's plan to recodify Russian law were deemed too radical and suppressed by his royal patron. Returning to France inDiderot spent the remaining years of his life in semiretirement, enjoying at least a semblance of domestic felicity.
His letters to his mistress, Sophie Volland, form, next to Voltaire's, the most interesting correspondence Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction the century.
Diderot died in Paris six years after Voltaire Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction Rousseau, with whose Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction his is inextricably linked as a leader of the French Enlightenment.
Diderot's philosophy was remarkably undogmatic. He advocated the open mind and believed that doubt was the beginning of wisdom and often its end; he continually questioned his own theories and conclusions, developed Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction theses, or paradoxes, in ethics and aesthetics, and decided "our true opinions are those to which we return the most often. His main contribution was a philosophy of science that looked far into Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction future and upon which his aesthetic and ethical theories were firmly and inseparably founded.
At weekly dinners with the latter two, John Locke 's psychology was thoroughly discussed. Between Diderot and Condillac influence was undoubtedly mutual. But Condillac, having taken holy orders and being therefore more circumspect, worked out a more systematic and more abstract philosophy and left it to Diderot to direct French sensationalism into definitely materialistic channels. Diderot's philosophical thought was clarified by constant distrust of abstractions.
Those who use abstractions must have constant recourse to examples, thus giving them perceptibility and physical reality. The mind is nothing but the brain functioning; the will is the latest impulse of desire and aversion. The naming of things is purely conventional. Diderot's early philosophical publications were especially concerned with problems of communication.
His empirical mind could not be satisfied with speculative studies, such as Condillac's theoretical experiment of endowing a statue with one sense at a time. He chose rather to study the actual cases of individuals deprived of the sense of sight or the sense of hearing. His Lettre sur les aveugles dealt first with case histories and the problems of "reading" through touch, illustrated by the methods of Nicholas Saunderson, the blind professor of mathematics at Oxford.
This first truly scientific
Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction of blindness led to Diderot's imprisonment. The
Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction that provoked the authorities was an imaginary deathbed conversation, in which the blind professor, unable to appreciate the alleged perfection of the order and beauties of nature, expressed his consequent doubts as to the existence of an intelligent God.
The treatise on the deaf and dumb, two years later, was also based on scientific observation, but proceeded to discuss aesthetic theories, especially the importance of gesture to communication. In his later Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction works, sensationalism played an important role in the development of his materialistic monism.
As early asin the libertine novel Les bijoux indiscrets The indiscreet toysDiderot showed himself a pronounced empiricist, a firm believer in the efficacy of the scientific method.
In an important chapter of that work, Experience the word meant both observed
Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction and experiment figures first as a growing child, discovers with the aid of a pendulum the velocity of a falling body, calculates the weight of the atmosphere with a tube of mercury, and with prism in hand, decomposes The child visibly grows to colossal stature and, like a Samson, crumbles the pillars of the Portico of Hypotheses.
Following the work of Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis and Comte de Buffon — and especially in studying Louis Daubenton's anatomical comparison of the foot of the horse and the hand of man — Diderot arrived at principles of transformism and natural selection that were to influence greatly his mature philosophy.
He surmised that "there had never been but one animal, prototype, through differentiation, of all other animals. Observation and the classification of natural phenomena was the first and essential step, but the great scientist must perceive relationships and form hypotheses, subject to experimental verification.
Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction associated the poetic imagination with the scientific, both in theory and practice. This section discusses the role of analogy, which is merely the working out of the rule of three by the feeling instrument that is man. To the genius, whether poet or scientist, will come the sudden perception of a new relationship, resulting in poetic metaphor or useful hypothesis.
Diderot's own mind worked in sudden flashes of perception. His best philosophical works are random loosely associated thoughts or observations — or dreams. His satirical narrative, Rameau's Nephewand his novel, Jacques the Fatalistare apparently loosely constructed, much given to dialogue, with digressions and intercalated stories after the manner of Laurence Sterne. They follow the pattern of general conversation, in which one Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction gives birth to another, and Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction on, until the thread is difficult to retrace.
The theory of associationism was firmly based, however, on his theories of sensationalism and memory to be discussed below. Diderot's inquisitive and encyclopedic mind equipped him admirably to comprehend the great advances that the sciences were making in the middle the century.
From mathematics he turned to chemistry and for three years studied assiduously under Guillaume-Francois Rouelle, forerunner of Antoine Lavoisier.
He was well acquainted with the work of the Dutch biologists Niklaas Hartsoeker and Bernard Nieuwyntit, who laid the foundations for the still unknown science of genetics. He was familiar with Abraham Trembley's experiments with the freshwater polyp, and with Joseph Needham 's discovery of Infusoria, in apparent proof of the theory of spontaneous generation.
These experiments influenced his development of the concepts of Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction sensitivity of matter and the essential identity of its organic and inorganic forms. As translator of Robert James's Medicinal DictionaryDiderot was well informed in the science of medicine. While in prison at Vincennes, the recently published first three volumes of Buffon's Natural History received his careful scrutiny, and from all possible sources he collected case histories of injuries to, and surgical operations on, the brain.
In this work, first published inDiderot showed himself at once a great Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction an imaginative philosopher and writer. In its pages, his mature philosophy, presented fantastically but seriously, was best illustrated. Diderot adopted the Heraclitean theory of flux. Unlike Descartes, however, Diderot followed John Toland in believing that motion was not added but was essential to matter.
He gave the idealistic monad of Gottfried Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction Leibniz a positive content. Diderot maintained that not only are bodies affected by external force but that the atom contains internal forces, a form of kinetic or potential energy.
All things carry with them their opposites; being and not-being are part of every whole. Birth, life, decay, are merely changes of form. All change, including the transformation of the universe from chaos to order, was to be explained by the
Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction of the elementary material particles.
What man perceives as order is simply his apprehension of the laws of motion as enacted by material bodies. An additional and very important hypothesis upon Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction Diderot's construction was built was the sensitivity of all matter, both inorganic and organic. By postulating both motion and sensitivity as inherent in matter, he felt that the entire range of natural phenomena both physical and mental and the full variety of experience could be adequately explained.
All that nature contains is the product of matter in motion, subject to the processes of fermentation produced by heat; through eons of time growth, increasing complexity, and specialization have occurred.
Diderot believed that there were no inexplicable gulfs between the various kingdoms. The known facts concerning the inorganic, the organic, plant, animal, and man, were like islands jutting out
Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction a sea of ignorance. As the waters
Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction through scientific investigation, the missing links would be discovered.
But some day science will explain. During Diderot's lifetime the biological sciences were in their infancy. The scope and profundity of his insights are therefore all the more amazing. When scientific facts failed him, he had recourse to hypotheses that he
Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction convinced would some day be verified.
Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction was in consideration of this conviction that he presented his mature philosophy as a dream, a dream that, with the passage of time, can truly be called prophetic. The crucial problem that confronted Diderot was to account for the emergence and behavior of the living individual.
The coordinated behavior and continuous identity that Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction the organism seemed to transcend any possible organization of discrete material particles. It was difficult to see how merely contiguous material parts could form an organic whole capable of a unified and purposeful response to its environment. Traditionally, the existence of unique species and individuals was explained by recourse to
Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction design and metaphysical essence.
Contemporary science offered Diderot a choice between preformation, a Lucretian theory accepted at times by La Mettrie, and epigenesis, which explained organic formation in terms of juxtaposition and Diderot rejected preformation, and in support of epigenesis he developed the concept of molecular combinations endowed with specialized functions and organic unity.
He pointed out that although the swarm consists simply of numerous separate individuals in physical contact, it does, as a whole, possess the characteristic of purposeful, unified behavior that is associated with the individual organism. It is possible to mistake the swarm of thousands of bees for a single animal. The unity of the organism is derived from the life of the whole, and Diderot thus affirmed the continuity of the kingdoms and refuted the metaphysical principle of essences.
A half century later the discovery of the organic cell and the principles of cell division confirmed his views. Diderot found support for his theories in the embryological ideas that he had gathered from his reading, especially of Albrecht von Haller
Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction Elements of Physiologyand from Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction. In the conversation with d'Alembert, which gives rise to the dream, Diderot attempts briefly to trace d'Alembert from the parental "germs.
Excluding all animistic hypotheses, he declares that this development "overthrows all the schools of theology; … from inert matter, organized in a certain way and impregnated with other inert matter, and given heat and motion, there results the faculty of sensation, life, memory, consciousness, passion, and thought.
Diderot agreed with Bordeu "organs produce needs, and reciprocally, needs produce organs" on the Lamarckian principle of the inheritability of acquired characteristics.
Moreover, he clearly stated his belief that the individual recapitulates the Dennis bon vie wife sexual dysfunction of the race and that certain hereditary factors may crop up after many generations. To explain how parental factors are inherited and genes were as yet unknownDiderot resorted to a hypothesis of organic development through a network or bundle of threads or fibers or filamentswhich strongly suggested the nervous system.
Any interference with the fibers produced abnormalities, or "monsters.