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Holbach, Paul Heinrich Dietrich


Also known as Paul Thiry, Baron d'Holbach, French encyclopedist; b. Heidesheim in the Palatinate, 1723; d. Paris, Jan. 21, 1789. Holbach, educated at the University of Leyden, where he pursued his early interests in science, contributed approximately 400 articles to the Encyclopédie. Most of these pertained to science and were merely translations from German texts. Between 1760 and 1770 Holbach published French translations of the writings of several English deists, including passages written by himself but attributed to them. He produced numerous volumes dedicated to the destruction of religion, many attributed on their title page to deceased Frenchmen of note: e.g., Christianisme dévoilé (1761), to N. A. Boulanger; and Essai sur les préjugés (1769), to C. C. Dumarsais. His most widely read work, Système de la nature, ou des Lois du monde physique et du monde moral (1770), published as the work of J. B. Mirabaud, is a systematic explanation of the universe in terms of atheism, materialism, determinism, and utilitarianism.

See Also: encyclopedists; deism.

Bibliography: c. capone braga, Enciclopedia filosofica, 4v. (Venice-Rome 1957) 2:110306. v. w. topazio, D'Holbach's Moral Philosophy (Geneva 1956).

[r. z. lauer]

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