Denis Diderot

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Denis Diderot, painting by Louis-Michel van Loo , 1767 (Diderot's signature below).
Denis Diderot, bust of Marie-Anne Collot (collection of M. Jacques Doucet )

Denis Diderot [ dəni didʁo ] (born  October 5, 1713 in Langres ; †  July 31, 1784 in Paris ) was a French abbé , writer , translator , philosopher , enlightener , literary and art theorist , art agent for the Russian Tsarina Catherine II and one of the main organizers and authors of the Encyclopédie .

Along with Jean le Rond d'Alembert was Diderot, of an outstanding universal, according to Voltaire possessed "pantophiles" Knowledge, publisher of the great French Encyclopédie to which he himself describes as encyclopaedist contributed about 6,000 of a total of 72,000 articles. As the author of stage works and theatrical aesthetic writings, he played a major role in the development of a bourgeois drama . His novels and stories  - mostly, like La religieuse , Jacques le fataliste or Le Neveu de Rameau , published posthumously - made their contribution in various ways to the great themes of the European Enlightenment . a. on questions of human self-determination , the mind-body problem and the opposition between determinism and free will, as well as criticism of religion .

In his works a clear development from a theistic to a deistic to an atheistic attitude can be seen. But there are also indications that his materialistic and atheistic ideas already existed in his early works, e.g. B. in the Pensées philosophiques (1746). Diderot's philosophical thoughts, which almost always relate to the experience of individual sensory impressions or perceptions , can be classified in the category of sensualism .

In his later works Diderot advocated the popularization of the Enlightenment, of atheism and against what he believed to be too widespread phenomena of superstition and bigotry . Diderot and his comrades-in-arms, the philosophes , no longer left religious institutions and various agencies the sole authority to interpret the world and the sciences in their works . Thus, there was less room for belief in supernatural and irrational forces in Europe, which was influenced by Enlightenment, and in North and South America influenced by it.

At the center of Diderot's thinking was the tension between reason and sensitivity ( sens et sensibilité ) , which was typical for his time . For Diderot, reason was characterized by the search for scientifically sound knowledge and the verifiability of empirically observed and proven facts , without remaining caught up in the purely quantitative recording of reality, in mathematical statements. In the years 1754 to 1765 he also developed the teaching of a universal sensibility ( sensibilité universelle ).

According to Diderot, the natural sciences were characterized by the fact that they do not ask why , but rather seek an answer to the question of how . He dealt with many fields of knowledge, including chemistry, physics, mathematics, but above all natural history as well as anatomy and medicine. As a philosophical position he developed - as can be seen in his later works - an (undogmatic) materialistic mentality. Although Diderot was not a philosopher who dealt with "justification-theoretical" problems or systematizing, analytical reflections , he is one of the most diverse and innovative philosophical authors of the 18th century.

Diderot and his companions were repeatedly confronted with the prevailing ideas of the Ancien Régime through their enlightenment considerations and publications and were therefore exposed to numerous repression . His imprisonment in 1749 drew Diderot's attention to further controls and surveillance by the various agencies , although he and the encyclopedists saw some people from  among the influential and rulers - including M me de Pompadour , the mistress of Louis XV. , and also some ministers and above all the chief censor Chrétien-Guillaume de Lamoignon de Malesherbes  - secretly stood by their side. Nevertheless, Diderot's contemporaries, who only knew him through his publications , only had a limited selection of essays , novels , and dramas available to them, but all of his contributions to the Encyclopédie were available .

Diderot and his epoch

Diderot's personal intellectual and literary emancipation took place against the background of a general change in the economy and society of the Ancien Régime in the wake of the Grand Siècle : As late as 1700, the French economic system was almost entirely stuck to the subsistence level . Almost all of the production was therefore used to directly cover domestic needs, and only a relatively small proportion of the total output was produced as surplus for the market . The most important sector was still agriculture , which achieved comparatively low yields due to the traditional, low-tech cultivation methods on mostly small-scale farms and was heavily dependent on cyclical production crises.

The craft was during the late Ancien Regime without significant quantitative or qualitative changes. Manufactories developed slowly in 18th century France. After all, the guild barriers were relaxed at the beginning of 1770. But Anne Robert Jacques Turgot , who as contrôleur général des finances between 1774 and 1776 sought to completely abolish the guilds ( corporations ) in order to reform artisanal production in the sense of mercantilist economic development, was unable to implement his plan. At the same time, the French bourgeoisie , especially in metropolises such as Paris, Bordeaux or Marseille , received strong impulses from an increase in non-European foreign trade . There was a shift in focus from the Mediterranean - towards Atlantic trade. Colonial areas were thus integrated into the European economic system. A prerequisite for the development of these long-distance trade relationships and especially of the sea ​​trade was the quick availability of capital through uncomplicated payment procedures with bank loans . The merchants and trading companies ( French East India Company or French West India Company ) in the trading metropolises on the coasts profited from this development .

The opinion-forming influence of the aristocratic court culture and its institutions diminished as this bourgeoisie took shape. The large number of publications ( newspapers , intelligence papers ) with simultaneously increased reading skills , as well as the salons and cafes, determined intellectual life to a greater extent. In these places, the nobility and the bourgeoisie met in a discursive process. The discussions clarified one's own positions, they helped to change values and motives , attitudes and views of an ideological-religious as well as scientific-technical kind and to make these changes public.

The emerging bourgeoisie and the complex change in the economic and social situation for large parts of French society increasingly called the existing political system of the ancien régime into question. As early as 1751 in his encyclopedia article on political authority ( Autorité politique ), Diderot rejected divine right as well as a natural law derivation of monarchical authority.

With regard to his political ideas , even after his return from Russia in 1774 , Diderot still placed certain hopes in enlightened absolutism , i.e. in the idea of ​​a monarchy in which the intellectual elite would help introduce ideas of the Enlightenment from "top to bottom", so to speak . He essentially gave up these hopes in the years 1770 to 1774.

Territorial Organization of Europe in 1714 ; differentiated into monarchies , republics and ecclesiastical lands.
  • Monarchies
  • Republics
  • Principal dioceses , church property
  • Royal Republic of the Polish Crown and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
  • Life

    Youth in Langres (1713 to 1729)

    Diderot was the second oldest child of wealthy Jansenist cutlery champion Didier Diderot in Langres (then chief town of the diocese of Langres , today Haute-Marne ) and his wife Angélique Vigneron (October 12, 1677 - October 1, 1748), the thirteenth daughter of a tanner . His grandfather Denis Diderot (1654–1726) had married on June 20, 1679 Nicole Beligné (1655–1692), the daughter of a master cutler François Beligné (1625–1697) and his wife Catherine Grassot. The couple had a total of nine children, including Denis Diderot's father, the master craftsman ( maître de guilde ) Didier Diderot.

    Denis Diderot was born on Thursday, October 5th, 1713 and was baptized according to the Roman Catholic rite the very next day in the Église paroissiale Saint-Pierre-Saint-Paul in Langres . Diderot had five younger siblings, but two of them died in childhood. He had a very good relationship with his sister Denise Diderot (1715–1797) throughout his life; he called her Sœurette . His relationship with his younger brother Didier-Pierre Diderot (1722–1787), a later clergyman and canon of Langres, was fraught with conflict. Another sister, Angélique Diderot (1720–1749), joined the Ursuline Order.

    Denis Diderot was born in a house in the center of Langres, n ° 9 de la place dans le center ville de Langres . The square bears his name today.

    His parents had been preparing him for the priesthood since he was twelve. On August 22, 1726 he received the tonsure and thus the minor orders from the Bishop of Langres , Pierre de Pardaillan de Gondrin (from 1724 to 1733) . He now had the right to call himself the Abbé and to wear spiritual clothing. In the near future he was to take over the canon benefice of his maternal uncle, Canon Charles Vigneron at the Cathédrale Saint-Mammès de Langres . Langres, an important center of Jansenism in the 18th century , had about 8,000 inhabitants at that time.

    In Langres Diderot attended a Jesuit school , collège des Jésuites .

    The beginnings of Paris (1729 to 1743)

    When he was 16, Diderot planned to go to Paris on his own. But his father thwarted this plan and personally brought his son to Paris, where he had acquired a place at university for him. In Paris, Diderot was initially accepted at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand , then switched to the Jansenist- oriented Collège d'Harcourt . He finished the preparatory college course on September 2, 1732 with the degree of Magister Artium ( maître-des-arts de l'Université ). He failed to join the planned study of theology , but completed his studies at the Sorbonne on August 6, 1735 as a bachelor's degree .

    From 1736 Diderot worked as a legal assistant to the lawyer Louis Nicolas Clément de Ris , also from Langres , avocat au Parlement de Paris . When he gave up this position in 1737, his father ended the regular cash donations. Diderot lived for four years from writing commissions, so he wrote sermons for clergy and worked as a tutor for a rich financier, while learning English. The young Diderot led the life of a bohemian, so to speak . It was a time of chronic financial difficulties. At times he was helped by the Carmelite Fr. Angelus or his mother, who even sent her servant Hélène Brûlé to Paris on foot to support him financially. A Monsieur Foucou from Langres, a friend of his father's, who - originally also a cutler - worked as an artist and dentist in Paris, is said to have often helped Diderot out with money. That Foucou later helped to create the encyclopedic entry on " steel ".

    Diderot was enthusiastic about the theater, but was also very interested in mathematics . So he got to know the mathematician and philosopher Pierre Le Guay de Prémontval and in 1738 attended his lectures , as well as those of Louis-Jacques Goussier . Other acquaintances from this period were the man of letters Louis-Charles Fougeret de Monbron , the later Cardinal François-Joachim de Pierre de Bernis and the later police prefect of Paris Antoine de Sartine .

    From 1740 Diderot wrote articles for the Mercure de France and the Observations sur les écrits modern . During this time he also attended anatomy and medicine lectures with César Verdier .

    Jean-Baptiste Greuze : Portrait of the engraver Johann Georg Wille , 1763 ( Musée Jacquemart-André , Paris)

    In 1740 Diderot first lived in a house on Rue de l'Observance (now Rue Antoine-Dubois ) in what is now the 6th Arrondissement , not far from the École de médecine , one floor below the German engraver Johann Georg Wille . Wille described him as a “very sociable young man” who “wanted to be a good writer and, if possible, an even better philosopher”. In the same year he moved several times, for example to Rue du Vieux-Colombier , also in the 6th, and to Rue des Deux-Ponts in what is now the 4th arrondissement .

    Diderot later took on translation activities from English to French . He learned English using a Latin- English dictionary . In 1742 he translated the Grecian History ("History of Greece") by Temple Stanyan . Robert James had written the three-volume English lexicon A medicinal dictionary, including physics, surgery, anatomy, chemistry and botany (1743-1745) in the early 1740s . The French doctor Julien Busson revised and expanded it into a six-volume work, Dictionnaire universel de médicine , which was translated into French by Diderot, François-Vincent Toussaint and Marc-Antoine Eidous between 1746 and 1748 and proofread by Busson.

    Diderot also translated Shaftesbury's Inquiry Concerning Virtue in 1745 ( Essai sur le mérite et la vertu , German study on virtue ). Shaftesbury's ideas strongly influenced the French Enlightenment. For Diderot, the aversion to dogmatic thinking, tolerance and morality based on humanistic ideals were particularly important. With great interest read Diderot also the Essays of Michel de Montaigne .

    During these years Diderot made friends with other young intellectuals such as D'Alembert , Abbé Étienne Bonnot de Condillac and Melchior Grimm . He frequented the Café de la Régence and the Café Maugis , which was also visited by Jean-Jacques Rousseau ; Diderot met him in July 1742. Rousseau, Condillac and Diderot sometimes met once a week in a restaurant near the Palais Royal , the Hôtel du Panier Fleuri .

    Marriage and family from 1743

    Anne-Antoinette Champion , known as Nanette, lived with her mother on Rue Boutebrie in 1741 , where the two women lived on white sewing and lace- making. At that time Diderot lived in a small room in the same house. When in 1743 he wanted to marry Nanette, a professing Catholic, who had no possessions or dowels , and as usual asked his father for permission, he had him locked up in a Carmelite monastery near Troyes by virtue of his fatherly authority . Diderot's antipathy towards the church and the monastery institution is probably also rooted in this experience - an antipathy that increased later when his youngest sister voluntarily went to the monastery and became mentally ill there. Diderot was able to flee after a few weeks, he returned to Paris and secretly married Anne-Antoinette Champion on November 6, 1743. Anne-Antoinette's relationship with her father-in-law normalized later, in 1752 at the latest it was a friendly one.

    The family initially lived in rue Saint-Victor in what is now the 5th arrondissement , in 1746 they moved to rue Traversière , and in April of the same year to n ° 6 rue Mouffetard , also in the 5th arrondissement. The police officer François-Jacques Guillotte , who became a friend of Diderot, lived nearby . Since 1747 the Diderot family lived at n ° 3 rue de l'Estrapade , from 1754 to 1784 then on the fourth and fifth floors of a house in rue Taranne , now in the 7th and 6th arrondissement .

    The Rue Taranne in the district of Faubourg Saint-Germain in 1866 (photograph by Charles Marville ). The later demolished house, in which the family lived from 1754 to 1784, was on the corner on the right, opposite the confluence with Rue Saint-Benoît .

    In his essay Regrets sur ma vieille robe de chambre ou Avis à ceux qui ont plus de goût que de fortune ( 1772 ) Diderot described his study on the fourth floor. A chair made of plaited straw, a simple wooden table and bookshelves made of fir wood , on the walls simple Italian color wallpaper , additional frameless copperplate engravings , some alabaster busts of Horace, Virgil and Homer. The table was covered with sheets of paper and papers. On the fifth floor, under the attic , he had set up the editorial office of the Encyclopédie . Diderot rented an additional apartment with a friend, the jeweler Étienne-Benjamin Belle, in Sèvres , n ° 26 Rue Troyon , around October or November 1767. He regularly retired there to work until shortly before his death. His last domicile, in which he also spent the last days of his life, was at n ° 39 Rue de Richelieu in what is now the 2nd arrondissement of Paris.

    The couple had four children, three of whom died very early, Angélique (1744–1744), Jacques François Denis (1746–1750), Denis-Laurant (1750–1750) and Marie-Angélique (September 2, 1753 - December 5) 1824). Marie-Angélique married the industrialist Abel François Nicolas Caroillon de Vandeul on September 9, 1772 . He was the son of Diderot's childhood sweetheart Simone la Salette (1713–1788) and her husband Nicolas Caroillon (1708–1766).

    Diderot had two grandchildren, Marie Anne (1773–1784), who died early, and Denis-Simon Caroillon de Vandeul (1775–1850), who became a politician. Diderot's three great-grandchildren, Abel François Caroillon de Vandeul (1812–1870), Marie Anne Wilhelmine Caroillon de Vandeul (1813–1900) and Louis Alfred Caroillon de Vandeul (1814–1900) come from his marriage to Eugénie Cardon .

    An interesting fact is that his brother Didier-Pierre Diderot also lived in Paris from 1743 to 1744 to study . He attended a Catholic seminary ( séminaire diocésain ) and also studied law . On Friday December 9th, 1746 he finished his studies and went back to Langres. Diderot's relationship with his brother was always difficult. The invitation to Marie-Angélique's wedding was answered rudely and never came. On November 14th, 1772 there was a final break between the brothers.

    Other private relationships

    His wife, the mother of his children, was the soul of his house, and Diderot also tolerated their strict religiosity . During his marriage he had further intimate relationships : From 1745 he was in a relationship with Madeleine de Puisieux , an "aventurière" ("adventurer"), as emancipated and unmarried women (mostly of better origin and education) were called. In 1755 Diderot met Sophie Volland , who became a lifelong companion, soul and intimate friend to him, both of whom exchanged lively "sensitive" letters. It was the year of the Lisbon earthquake that u. a. raised the theodicy discussion. From spring 1769 to 1771 Diderot had another intimate relationship with Jeanne-Catherine Quinault , whom he had known since 1760. In August 1770 he met her and her daughter in Bourbonne-les-Bains and took a cure there with them in the thermal baths . Shortly afterwards he wrote Les Deux Amis de Bourbonne ("The two friends from Bourbonne").

    Paris - the time of the consolidating enlightenment

    Diderot continued to associate with Parisian intellectuals, in Café Procope , and also in Café Landelle . That's how he met Alexis Piron . Through this circle he came into contact with the Salonnière and writer Louise d'Épinay as well as with Paul Henri Thiry d'Holbach . He became part of the so-called coterie holbachique .

    In the Café de la Régence on the Place du Palais-Royal Diderot regularly played chess . With François-André Danican Philidor , the best player of the time, he was friends; both families met regularly. Diderot later erected a literary monument in Le Neveu de Rameau to Philidor's chess teacher, François Antoine de Legall , a regular visitor to the café .

    Diderot's philosophical views were now far removed from those of his parents' Christian home. His doubts about his transition to a rational theism were made public in 1746 with the essay Pensées philosophiques, probably written around Easter . This made it known to a larger readership, although it appeared anonymously. The work, which was critical of religion , was condemned by the Paris Parliament and publicly burned . The further development of his positions towards a clearer materialism is marked by La promenade du skeptique (1747) and the letter on the blind for use by the sighted ( Lettre sur les aveugles à l'usage de ceux qui voient , 1749), and later the Pensées sur l'interprétation de la nature (1753).

    From 1747 the work on the Encyclopédie was in the foreground. In 1749, however, it was interrupted.

    Imprisonment (July 24 - November 3, 1749)

    France's Minister of War, Marc-Pierre d'Argenson , asked Lieutenant General of the Police Nicolas René Berryer on July 22, 1749 to issue a royal arrest warrant ( lettre de cachet ) for Diderot. On July 24, 1749, at half past seven in the morning, Diderot was arrested by Joseph d'Hémery , Commissioner and Inspector of the Royal Censorship. He was interrogated and taken to the Vincennes fortress , château de Vincennes .

    Diderot was charged with publishing the Pensées philosophiques and the letter on the blind for use by the sighted , in which he had set out his materialist position, as well as working on other writings directed against religion. Two years earlier he had been denounced as a “godless, very dangerous person” by the pastor of his parish in Saint-Médard , Pierre Hardy de Lévaré (1696–1778). The fact that an influential woman, M me Dupré de Saint-Maur, wife of Nicolas-François Dupré de Saint-Maur , wanted to take revenge for a disparaging remarks by Diderot is said to have played a certain role .

    Rousseau visited him regularly in prison. The booksellers, keen to get the Encyclopédie to work quickly , complained about the arrest. Diderot himself intervened by letter with René Louis d'Argenson and Nicolas René Berryer. He was released on November 3, 1749. He had to undertake in writing not to publish any more blasphemous writings. In order not to jeopardize the progress of the Encyclopédie , he left a lot unpublished in the following years.

    The experience of his imprisonment left a deep impression on Diderot and made him proceed with greater caution in the future. Much later, on October 10, 1766, Diderot confessed in a letter to Voltaire, referring to his work on the Encyclopédie , that his soul was full of fear of possible persecution, but that he would not flee, because an inner voice ordered him to continue, partly out of habit, partly out of hope that everything could look different the next day.

    Encyclopédie and main work (1747 to 1773)

    The origins of the Encyclopédie lay in a translation of the two-volume Cyclopædia, or, An universal dictionary of arts and sciences published by Ephraim Chambers in 1728 , which the Englishman John Mills ran together with the German scholar Gottfried Sellius from 1743 . In order to print their work, the translators turned to the publisher and royal court printer ( imprimeur ordinaire du Roy ) André-François Le Breton , who applied for a royal printing privilege, which was granted on February 25, 1745. In May 1745, Le Breton published a prospectus in which he announced the appearance of a five-volume work by the end of 1748.

    After Le Breton fell out with Mills - whose suitability as a translator remains doubtful - and appropriated the rights to the project, Jean-Paul de Gua de Malves was entrusted with the organizational management. He immediately suggested a fundamental revision, but soon gave up the management of the project, tired from arguments. In 1747 Diderot took over the management of the work on the Encyclopédie as editor, initially together with D'Alembert , from 1760 with Louis de Jaucourt . Drafting the overall plan, recruiting authors and organizing their collaboration, to fight the printing privilege and against censorship, and also to write more than 3000 articles yourself, was enough work for years to come. Where necessary, Diderot expanded his area of ​​knowledge for this purpose. From 1754 to 1757 he regularly attended the chemistry lectures by Guillaume-François Rouelles . In the inevitable battles, Diderot was also supported by the Freemasons ; however, it has not been proven that he was a Freemason himself.

    During this time Diderot also wrote novels and short stories, plays for the theater, he worked on a theater theory and on epistemology. Much of this was initially not published, but some has already been made public through copies . An important collaborator was Jacques-André Naigeon , also active as d'Holbach's secretary, who edited and edited texts and also wrote for the Encyclopédie. Later, in 1798, he published a first, albeit incomplete, edition of the work.

    Despite all this work, Diderot took part in the lively social life of the philosophes - the critically positioned Parisian intellectuals such as Condillac, Turgot , Helvétius and d'Holbach - and also attended noble salons. Since the winter of 1752/53 he also had correspondence with Madame de Pompadour , who , according to Marc-Pierre d'Argenson's journal, had contacted the encyclopedists in 1752 . She later received some of them, including Diderot, for informal dinners and talks.

    Diderot often spent the summers at the country estate of d'Holbach's mother-in-law, the Château du Grand Val in what is now the Paris suburb of Sucy-en-Brie . He lived on the first floor of the right wing. The building was destroyed in 1949 (postcard from 1907).

    However, there was tension. In 1757 Diderot complained to Grimm about an invitation from d'Holbach to the Château du Grand Val : he doubts whether he should follow her, as the baron was a “despotic and capricious person”. Later, however, he stayed there several times, also at the Château de la Chevrette in Deuil-la-Barre , owned by Louise d'Épinay . In letters to Sophie Volland, Diderot described his daily routine in the Grand-Val: In addition to reading, thinking and writing, walking and talking to d'Holbach, general conversation and meals, Tric Trac and Piquet were also part of it.

    In July 1765 Diderot finished working on the Encyclopédie . He and his family had lived on payments from publishers and booksellers for almost 20 years and had no rights to royalties . So now only income came from the paternal inheritance from Langres. Dmitri Alexejewitsch Golitsyn and Grimm saved the situation. They brokered the sale of Diderot's library to Catherine II of Russia  - it was sent to Saint Petersburg after his death (with transport costs of 16,000 livres). Catherine II paid him 1,000 livres per year as librarian in his own library and provided him with money for new acquisitions. In 1773 Diderot went to the court of Saint Petersburg for a few months .

    The money made it possible for his daughter Marie-Angélique to take harpsichord lessons from 1765 , first with the pianist Marie-Emmanuelle Bayon Louis until 1769 , then with the music theorist and composer Anton Bemetzrieder . In 1771 he made her one of the main characters in his musical textbook, the Leçons de Clavecin, et Principes d'Harmonie .

    Diderot's library (like the Voltaires) became part of the Russian National Library, founded in 1795 . Like the rest of its holdings, however, it was later dispersed and an accompanying list was lost. It could only be partially reconstructed using the registers of the publishers supplying Diderot with books.

    Journey to the court of Catherine II in St. Petersburg (1773 to 1774)

    The Journey of Denis Diderot 1773–1774.
    The blue line shows the outward journey (June 11 - October 8, 1773), the red line the return journey (March 5 - October 21, 1774). The distance is about 3500 km.

    Tsarina Catherine II invited Denis Diderot to Russia as early as 1762, where he was supposed to complete the encyclopedia. Diderot canceled, but remained in contact with the general and school reformer Ivan Ivanovich Bezkoi in order to possibly later publish a second edited edition of the encyclopedia in Russia. When Diderot set out for Russia in 1773, the encyclopedia was finished, his daughter was married, and he was indebted to his patron.

    On June 11, 1773, Diderot left Paris for his only long journey to Saint Petersburg . The journey - with many encounters on the way - first went via The Hague to the Duchy of Kleve , where he met his future travel companion Alexei Wassiljewitsch Naryschkin . In The Hague he stayed with the Russian ambassador Dmitri Alexejewitsch Prince von Gallitzin (1738-1803) and his wife Amalie von Gallitzin (see also Münsterscher Kreis ) until August 20, 1773 . After a break due to illness, Diderot drove on to the Electorate of Saxony . About Leipzig , which he reached on September 2, 1773 to u. a. To meet the theologian and hymn poet Georg Joachim Zollikofer , and Dresden , where he met the art theorist Christian Ludwig von Hagedorn , he went  on to Königsberg , Memel , Mitau , Riga and Narva - avoiding the Prussian residences in Potsdam and Berlin . On October 8, 1773, Diderot reached the Tsar's seat on the Neva Bay .

    In Saint Petersburg, Diderot, weakened by an illness, was initially with Naryshkin and his older brother Semjon (1731-1807). There he was still in bed at first. From October 15, 1773 onwards, Diderot was received by the Tsarina - sometimes three times a week - for regular audiences . As a representative of enlightened absolutism , she hoped that this would stimulate her reform policy. She had already corresponded with Voltaire and had shown herself inclined to the French enlightenment since she published her extensive instruction on legal principles to the Russian legislative commission, the Nakaz ( Russian Наказ , `` instruction '') in 1767 , in which she referred in particular to the scriptures Montesquieus had ajar very strongly. The task of the newly formed commission was to create a system of uniform jurisdiction for the entire Russian Empire.

    During his stay, Diderot hardly had the opportunity to get to know the conditions in the tsarist empire exactly and directly, so that his recommendations generally had to remain abstract. He recorded the content of his conversations with the Tsarina in the Entretiens avec Catherine II . For example, he supported efforts to achieve uniform jurisdiction, but emphatically criticized the autocratic absolute monarchy .

    The conversations and experiences in Saint Petersburg made Diderot later, especially in his confrontation with the Tsarina's Nakaz under the title Observations sur l'instruction de l'impératrice de Russie , clearly move away from the “pure monarchy” cast in laws, as it was Katharina II. Envisioned. He propagated happiness and freedom as goals of all societies and as a task that rulers would have to pave the way for. He called for the complete abolition of serfdom and an end to the church's political power . In the aftermath, Diderot, based on the model of popular sovereignty , expected the Empress to clearly restrict her absolute power.

    The tsarina only found out about this after Diderot's death. Before his departure, she commissioned him to develop a plan to reform the Russian educational system in order to spread the ideas of the French Enlightenment in the Tsarist Empire. Diderot wrote the Plan d'une université pour le gouvernement de Russie ou d'une éducation publique dans toutes les sciences ("Plan of the entire school system for the Russian government or a public education in all sciences", 1775). In it he demanded, for example, that academic training should not be based solely on the immediate usability of the crown or on the reasons of state . Grimm brought the treatise to Russia.

    The tsarina told Louis-Philippe de Ségur , the French ambassador to Saint Petersburg from 1783 to 1789: If she had incorporated all of Diderot's ideas and ideas into political action, the entire tsarist empire would have been turned upside down. And she told Diderot at the end of his stay in Russia that she listened to his brilliant remarks with the greatest pleasure, but that, unlike him, she did not work with paper, but with people.

    On November 1, 1773, Diderot and Grimm were admitted to the Russian Academy of Sciences as a membre étranger by order of the Tsarina . The academics present showed "a very subdued enthusiasm" about this. Diderot presented the academy with a catalog with 24 questions on the natural history of Siberia . Erik Gustawowitsch Laxmann was assigned to answer them. During his stay in Saint Petersburg, Diderot tried to learn the Russian language . Often he was invited to the palaces of the Russian aristocrats .

    On March 5, 1774, the return journey began by stagecoach . Via Hamburg and Osnabrück he went back to The Hague , where he arrived on April 5th and then stayed for a while. He was not back in Paris until October 21, 1774. In his treatise Essai sur la vie de Sénèque le philosophe, sur ses écrits, et sur les règnes de Claude et de Néron 1778, Diderot defended the tsarina against the accusation that she was similar to Iulia Agrippina , who her husband, the Roman emperor Claudius , murdered, a spouse murderer to Peter III. been from Russia .

    The time after his trip to Russia until his death

    Denis Diderot - like his friend Paul Henri Thiry d'Holbach  - found his final resting place in the church of Saint-Roch in Paris.

    Diderot's health has deteriorated noticeably since his return from Russia. Heart and circulation problems bothered him, he suffered from swollen legs and shortness of breath . In 1774 he wrote to Sophie Volland that he expected his end in ten years. More often than before he was drawn to his alternative quarters in Sèvres or to the Château de Grand-Val estate of his friend d'Holbach.

    One last time, Diderot just barely escaped re- imprisonment . In 1782, in the then independent Principality of Bouillon, a second edition of his essay on Seneca and his time appeared under the simplified title Essai sur les règnes de Claude et de Néron . The Paris police lieutenant Jean-Charles-Pierre Lenoir allowed Diderot to purchase a few copies for his own use from the Paris booksellers' guild . Diderot now obtained six hundred copies. The Paris booksellers saw their earnings diminished and reported Diderot. The seal keeper Armand Thomas Hue de Miromesnil (1723–1796) was also involved in the process. According to Lenoir, King Louis XVI. Diderot's punishment . Diderot was summoned , but was able to refute the allegations, especially since the administration showed him a certain sympathy. He took a rhetorical genuflection and soothed his " accuser " or by a revocation . In the following period Diderot met regularly with the police lieutenant Lenoir to exchange ideas, as he was a liberal spirit and a member of the lodge .

    In February 1784, in a winter marked by extreme cold, Diderot's long-time friend Sophie Volland died at the age of 67. In April she was followed by his granddaughter Marie Anne Caroillon de Vandeul, 'Minette' (* 1773), at the age of ten. On February 19, 1784, Diderot suffered a sudden collapse, possibly a heart attack , accompanied by (acute or exacerbated ) heart failure . He died at lunch on Saturday, July 31, 1784. The autopsy the following day found an enlarged liver , an enlarged heart and a left-sided pleural effusion , as well as pronounced edema. The autopsy led u. a. the surgeon François Dominique Lesné , the findings are part of the Fonds Vandeul . Anne-Antoinette Diderot, the wife, and the son-in-law Abel François Nicolas Caroillon de Vandeul (1746–1813) organized the funeral in the parish church of Saint-Roch in Paris. For this purpose, the priest was discretely assured an amount of 1,800  livres as a donation. 50 priests are said to have been present at the ceremony . Denis Diderot was the ossuary beneath the main altar buried . During the French Revolution on February 4, 1796, the ossuary, Diderot's grave and his remains were demolished by the soldiers stationed there.

    Presentation of some of Diderot's personal relationships with his contemporaries

    Diderot had a variety of more or less intensive relationships with the most diverse personalities of his time. These relationships were characterized by a high degree of individual specificity and dynamism to his counterpart, but also of different duration and conflictuality in their direct personal or postal forms.

    The Encyclopédie only made possible the collaboration of many, which required Diderot's close relationships with other thinkers. These - especially those on Rousseau and Voltaire, Grimm and d'Holbach - also stimulated the rest of his work. Diderot's style of speaking and discussion was, according to the assessment of the others, characterized by an often rapid manner of speaking , his statements were exceptionally lively and moving with a tendency to wander . By Jean-François Marmontel a rousing him is eloquence testified that brightened all minds, and another encyclopaedist André Morellet certified him that he was overflowing with ideas and the interlocutors give his wit.

    Le Rond d'Alembert

    Among the three who regularly met for dinner at the Hôtel du Panier Fleuri, not far from the Palais Royals, was Jean-Baptiste le Rond d'Alembert , alongside Rousseau and de Condillac . As co-editor and author of many, especially scientific and mathematical entries in the Encyclopédie , he wrote - in November 1757 in the seventh volume of the work - a lemma on "Genève". In May 1741, Le Rond d'Alembert was accepted as a member of the Académie française. Le Rond d'Alembert was in constant postal contact with Voltaire, who suggested that he write the aforementioned lemma about “Geneva”. The latter may not be entirely free from scheming endeavors. In terms of content, le Rond d'Alembert was tempted to take a swipe at the city's culture, which caused a little uproar and spurred Voltaire from Geneva to a dense correspondence with many participants. With the consequence that le Rond d'Alembert withdrew from the encyclopedic project on January 7, 1758. The two men had a distant, polite relationship. After Diderot had written Le rêve de D'Alembert in 1769 , the protagonist of the work was angry and demanded, according to Jacques-André Naigeon, that the manuscript pages should be burned in his personal presence. Diderot tried a new version of the trilogy and refrained from publishing the dialogues, although copies of the original original text were circulating, but it could be published later.

    And there was another difference between the two philosophes . While Diderot and the Russian tsarina came into contact after their enthronement in 1762, D'Alembert had more and more intensive contact with the Prussian King Friedrich II. From 1746 onwards . For both philosophes these monarchs remained, if not without contradiction, “reference persons”. Both support the philosophes financially. From 1751, D'Alembert received a pension for 1200 livres from Friedrich II.


    When Jean-Jacques Rousseau came to Paris in the summer of 1742, he met the future banker Daniël Roguin and through him soon Diderot, both of whom became close friends. Diderot, in turn, became acquainted with Étienne Bonnot de Condillac through Rousseau, who already knew him. These three now met regularly. They agreed to publish a literary critical journal, Le Persifleur . Rousseau edited the first edition, a second no longer appeared.

    During his imprisonment in Vincennes, Diderot was supported by Rousseau. With a written petition to M me de Pompadour, he asked for Diderot's release. Around 1750 Rousseau met Melchior Grimm , he also introduced him to Diderot.

    However, in the mid-1750s, Rousseau ended the close relationship with Diderot. The reasons were his difficult personality and paranoid ideas, which were not entirely unfounded. Diderot, however, remained friendly to him throughout his life. The relationship between Rousseau and Grimm also broke between 1756 and 1757 through entanglements and the rivalry for M me Louise d'Épinay .

    Jean Huber : Un dîner de philosophes , 1772 ( Voltaire Foundation , Oxford). It shows an imaginary diner in Ferney that never took place, Voltaire in the middle with his hand raised, Diderot on the far right.


    Diderot had long been an admirer of Voltaire , so he praised his behavior in the Jean Calas affair . The relationship later became more distant. In February 1778 Voltaire stayed in Paris for the premiere of his play Irène . Whether he also met Diderot there is controversial. Voltaire also chose Frederick II as his “reference monarch”.

    Melchior Grimm

    The friendship with Grimm was also of changeable intensity in its course. At a festival held by the secret diplomat and chief court master Baron Ulrich von Thun (1707–1788), Grimm met in the summer, more precisely in August 1749, in a country house in Fontenay-sous-Bois , whose owner was Friedrich Ludwig von Sachsen-Gotha-Altenburg , Jean- Know Jacques Rousseau. It was through the latter that he made the acquaintance of Diderot. At the beginning of their meeting, she was carried by an extraordinary sympathy for each other and the two for Louise d'Épinay. Grimm and Diderot worked on joint projects such as the Correspondance littéraire, philosophique et critique or the Encyclopédie . Later Grimm arranged the sale of Diderot's library to the Russian tsarina, which enabled him to free him from a financial bottleneck. The friendship ended later, however: Grimm rejected the colonial-critical analysis of the history of both India by Guillaume Thomas François Raynal , which Diderot collaborated with in 1772–1781 . Diderot wrote him a letter on March 25, 1781, Lettre apologétique de l'abbé Raynal à monsieur Grimm , which Grimm never reached. Diderot was disappointed with his subaltern and selfish attitude, with his increasingly monarchistic, absolutist positioning.


    How Diderot and d'Holbach met is not known. Much of your correspondence has been lost. Presumably they were initially connected by their interest in music. Both followed natural history topics, such as chemistry, with great interest. Diderot edited d'Holbach's most important work, the system of nature . Their friendship lasted a lifetime. D'Holbach stayed away from obligations to European monarchs.

    Views and work

    The Encyclopédie (1747 to 1766)

    In a certain way, the “Encyclopédie” pursued the goal of everyday factual contexts - “that is, the ability as such, without being able to say how” - of its time to be linguistically captured and explained with detailed illustrations and additions to the text in a “how” allow; comparable to a distinction between implicit and explicit knowledge , as an expression of a verbal process of explication of the implicit.

    Example: A toddler learns the grammar of the mother tongue implicitly, i. H. about pattern recognition. A child in school learns i. A. the grammar of a language explicitly, i.e. via rules.

    Phase of emergence

    The Parisian publisher and court printer André Le Breton planned in 1745 to publish a French edition of the originally two-volume English work Cyclopaedia , or Universal Dictionary of the Arts and Sciences by Ephraim Chambers from 1728, which contained historical, biographical and geographical texts.

    First, Le Breton teamed up with the English author of agricultural textbooks John Mills and the Danzig lawyer and naturalist Gottfried Sellius . While he wanted to make the funding possible, the two were to translate Chambers' two-volume work into French. The contract between Le Breton, Sellius and Mills was signed on March 5, 1745 and broken in August of that year.

    Le Breton, dissatisfied with the progress of the translations, accused John Mills of not having a good enough command of French and of not sticking to the agreed deadlines. On August 7, 1745, there was an open, tangible dispute between the two. Le Breton was sued by Mills for assault and assault but acquitted.

    Le Breton initially entrusted the leadership of the encyclopedia project as editor to the clergyman and mathematician Jean Paul de Gua de Malves . This planned a redesign of Chambers' Cyclopaedia and wanted to adapt it to the current conditions . Since Le Breton could not raise the necessary financial means for the project on his own, he teamed up with three other publishers: Antoine-Claude Briasson , Michel-Antoine David , Laurent Durand . In 1747, however, de Malves gave up his participation in the project.

    Diderot was now the head of the project, having already translated a history of the ancient Greeks, a medical dictionary, and a Shaftesbury philosophical treatise from English.

    The Encyclopédie was conceived from the beginning as an exclusively community project, here it differed in part from other lexicons and encyclopedias . Another innovation was the introduction of cross-references .

    The French Early reconnaissance Bayle turned in its Dictionnaire historique et critique (1697) an elaborate set of mirrors to, in the form of a single- and two-column set combined with footnotes and Marginalien the reproduced right. This “Bayle's method” found its way into Diderot's Encyclopédie , albeit in a modified manner (see also Encyclopedia ).

    Some of the authors plagiarized texts or text passages from other lexicons, Johann Heinrich Zedler's Great Complete Universal Lexicon of All Sciences and Arts (1732–1754) was the source for many philosophical articles by Jean Henri Samuel Formey . Zedler's work, for its part, had taken much of the Philosophical Lexicon (1726) by Johann Georg Walch .

    Under the aegis of Denis Diderot

    But almost three months passed before Diderot and Jean-Baptiste le Rond d'Alembert were named editors of the Encyclopédie on October 16, 1747 . Diderot, now in charge of the project, changed the original plan of simply translating and adapting the text into French and decided to expand the two-volume work considerably in order to make it a sum of all the knowledge of his time. To this end, he first won his friend D'Alembert, a mathematician and scientist, and gradually other authors, the so-called encyclopedists, some of whom were otherwise little-known specialists, but others were also famous personalities, as employees. B. Montesquieu or Voltaire . On April 30, 1748, the royal printing privilege, Approbation et Privilège du Roy , was granted.

    Because of his imprisonment in the fortress Vincennes from July to November 1749, he had to suspend his work on the Encyclopédie for a few months and was released after a written obligation not to publish any more blasphemous writings. In the future he was therefore more cautious and, in order not to jeopardize the progress of the Encyclopédie , left many other writings unpublished.

    In October 1750, Diderot announced in his prospectus that an edition of the Encyclopédie would appear with eight volumes and six hundred plates. Although Denis Diderot and D'Alembert saw human knowledge woven into a system, they chose an alphabetical order for the presentation of their nearly 61,000 articles, as in the first final version of the Encyclopédie . They first saw an overview of the knowledge of their time in the Encyclopédie .

    Diderot himself wrote a number of articles, including on the history of philosophy, but also articles on aesthetics , grammar , rhetoric , even on education and politics. It was with the latter that he found himself in a dangerous situation. An important contribution with over a thousand entries was made by him on the mechanical arts ( craft ). In addition, there were supplementary articles from the most varied of areas, which had become necessary for a variety of reasons, so entries on agriculture and the lemma animal were processed by Diderot.

    Louis de Jaucourt made an important contribution to the completion of the Encyclopédie , who joined the project around 1751 after D'Alembert's retirement. Although the relationship between Diderot and de Jaucourt can be characterized as cool, the latter valued his literary work and his diligence, who also gave him time to write other works.

    Content goals

    Three areas are significant: the sciences, followed by the liberal arts and the mechanical arts . For this it was necessary to clearly assign words and concepts to a thing or a factual context. For example, in the field of mechanical arts, i.e. the skills and techniques of artisans and craftsmen , many discussions were held with those involved in order to bring the facts into order. Yet for the encyclopedists there were no posh occupations that contrasted with the everyday.

    Diderot and his staff it was also very important to capture the workings of the technologies of their time not only language but by supplementing the text with detailed illustrations by stitches to illustrate to the reader or viewer: In the section on agriculture are therefore in addition to a Pastoral landscape scene with hills and the people working in these areas depict the machines and tools that were used for the work.

    This alphabetical structure also enabled Diderot to circumvent the censorship at times. Knowing that the representatives of the authorities had a particular focus on terms and articles with political and religious explosiveness, he often brought his enlightenment ideas and criticisms into "irrelevant" topics.

    The protagonists of the technical sciences in the 19th century implicitly oriented themselves to this normative program of the Encyclopédie in the sense of the abolition of the encyclopedic in the form of the system of the classical technical sciences.

    In 1750 he wrote a prospectus that was sent all over Europe, in which he called on interested parties to subscribe to the Encyclopédie . In November 1750, the first eight thousand copies of the Prospectus , the advance notice of the Encyclopédie , were published, with which the buyers were invited to subscribe. Initially, eight volumes of text and two volumes of copperplate engravings were planned. In a later edition from 1755, Diderot speaks in the article on the term encyclopedia in volume V of a total of twelve planned volumes.

    In 1751 the first two volumes of the Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers appeared .

    The book-selling success of the work was enormous, but the Jesuits and influential representatives from the Sorbonne diagnosed an unchristian tendency and obtained a ban from the Royal Privy Council, Conseil du roi de France . But since M me de Pompadour, some ministers, many influential Freemasons and the chief censor Chrétien-Guillaume de Lamoignon de Malesherbes were on the side of the encyclopedists , four more volumes could appear from 1753 to 1756 despite the ban. After all, Malesherbes, as chief censor, Censure royale , had granted the Encyclopédie the royal printing privilege in 1751 . Malesherbes sympathized with the Scouts in two ways. He was in various functions - under Louis XV. and Louis XVI. - Servant of the French monarchy. But in 1752 he saved the publication of the encyclopedia and prevented Diderot from being arrested again. Although the first two volumes of the edition were banned, Malesherbes managed to ensure that the royal decree did not explicitly revoke the printing privilege.

    This happened against the following background: The first volume of the Encyclopédie appeared in January 1752, the printed date of June 1751 on the title page is incorrect. The encyclopedia experienced the first repression carried out by state institutions in 1752. The reason for this was the theological dissertation by Jean-Martin de Prades . Reviewed by the Irish professor Reverend Luke Joseph Hooke (1716–1796), who in the end lost his office and dignity. On November 18, 1751 , de Prades defended his work at the Sorbonne . But soon afterwards his dissertation for the doctor theologiae became a dubious loyalty to dogma - i. H. close to the Encyclopédie - suspected, so that the academic authorities subjected his work to scrutiny.

    In his dissertation, de Prades had put forward a number of theses that led to a sharp argument with representatives of the theological faculty at Paris University. Among other things, de Prades had expressed doubts about the chronological sequence of events in the Pentateuch and compared the healing miracles of Jesus with those of the Greek god of healing Asclepius . Without naming his role models, de Prades made extensive use of D'Alembert's preface to the Encyclopédie , the Discours préliminaire , and the Pensées philosophiques by Diderot. De Prades was in personal contact with Diderot and had met with him several times for talks.

    On December 15, the commission of the Paris theological faculty dealing with the case determined that the theses expressed in the dissertation were to be rejected and that the writing itself fell under the censorship regulations. For the second volume of the Encyclopédie , published in January 1752, de Prades wrote an article about fifteen pages under the heading of certainty, certitude . De Prades' article was framed by an introduction and an endorsement by Diderot. Against the background of the dispute over his dissertation, the theologians expressed their indignation and accused de Prades of heresy . An arrest warrant was issued against de Prades, he fled to Holland and finally to Berlin. The two first volumes of the Encyclopédie , which had already been published , were banned on February 7, 1752, as were the remaining volumes. Chrétien-Guillaume de Lamoignon de Malesherbes , chief censor of the Censure Royale , intervened protectively.

    Malesherbes diverted the crisis in such a way that on February 2, 1752, a council decree, arrêts du Conseil , identified only passages in the first two volumes which “had a destructive effect on the royal authority and strengthened the spirit of independence and revolt and made it ambiguous Understood the foundations of error, moral corruption, irreligion and unbelief promoted ”. However , this had no effect on the distribution of the Encyclopédie , as the first two volumes had already been delivered to buyers or subscribers. Above all, the printing privilege was not withdrawn. Malesherbes also received support in this matter from M me de Pompadour.

    After that, however, the pressure from the opponents increased. In 1758 the ban was renewed, in 1759 Pope Clement XIII. the work on the index . Meanwhile, the government had come to appreciate the foreign exchange income that was coming in from all over Europe through the sale of the Encyclopédie , despite the Seven Years' War (1756–1763) , and Diderot was secretly encouraged to carry on.

    The co-editor Jean-Baptiste le Rond d'Alembert withdrew from the project in 1759. From 1760 he was replaced by the very committed Louis de Jaucourt .

    On November 12, 1764, Diderot discovered by chance that his publisher André Le Breton had made changes in the last text volumes without consulting him by omitting entire text passages and making serious changes to the text. Although Diderot initially wanted to give up any further collaboration with him, he did not let it get that far. In a letter to André Le Breton he wrote:

    “You cheated on me like a coward for two years. You have destroyed the work of twenty righteous men, or let them be destroyed by stupid cattle, the work of men who have given you their time, their talents, their vigil in vain out of love for the good and the truth and in the only hope, some well-deserved respect for it that your injustice and ingratitude will have robbed you of. "

    - Denis Diderot : letter of November 12, 1764 to A. Le Breton

    At the beginning of 1766 the 17th text volume came out, in the edition of the Encyclopédie from 1772 the project was finally completed with the eleventh volume.

    Diderot dedicated 20 years of his life to this project. He wrote more than 3,000 articles before ending the project in July 1765 full of bitterness for lack of recognition. Diderot withdrew and left the editing of the last volumes of illustrations to his successors, who, like the first, contributed much to the company's fame. According to the contract with the publishers, he would receive 25,000 livres for the completed encyclopedia. Voltaire complained in a letter of April 14, 1760 to Jean-Baptiste le Rond d'Alembert about this small amount for a twenty-year or assumed twelve-year job.

    In the Encyclopédie méthodique - published in 166 volumes from 1782 and 1832 by the publisher Charles-Joseph Panckoucke and M me Thérèse-Charlotte Agasse (1775–1838) - the Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers finally found theirs Revising, expanding and redistributing into various specialist dictionaries.

    Publishing and economic aspects

    André François Le Breton and his three business partners Antoine-Claude Briasson, Michel-Antoine David and Laurent Durand signed a partnership agreement traité de société on Monday October 18, 1745 with a starting capital of 20,000 livre and a share distribution according to the contributions. Le Breton held 50 percent, the others a sixth each.

    Many of the books published in the 18th century had an average print run of 500 to 1000 copies. The prospectus of the Encyclopédie , published in November 1750, was planned with 8,000 copies. Buyers should be asked to subscribe . Eight volumes of text and 2 volumes of copperplate engravings were announced . According to the plan, they should appear every six months. Thus Volume II should have appeared in December 1775 and Volume III in June 1776, and so on, until Volume VIII was finally made available to the public in December 1779. The subscription provided for an advance payment of 60 livres and, upon receipt of volume I, a further 36 livres, for volumes II to VIII 24 livres and for the last two volumes with the engravings 40 livres. The total cost would be 280 livre, assuming an approximate conversion rate of 1 livre equal to 10 to 12 euros, the total price would amount to 3000 to 3400 euros. Volume I then actually appeared in June 1751, Volume II January 1752, Volume III November 1753, Volume IV October 1754, Volume V November 1755, Volume VI October 1756, Volume VII November 1757, Volume VIII to XVII from 1765 to January 1766 and in 1772 the last volume with the plates and copperplate engravings. In this first version the work comprised 60,660 articles.

    When Diderot joined the original project of the translation of the English edition Cyclopaedia, or Universal Dictionary of the Arts and Sciences by Ephraim Chambers in 1746/47, under the auspices of Le Breton, he received 60 livre, 45 Livre in March, 90 livre in April and 120 livre in June. In October 1747 - the original project of pure translation had meanwhile become the independent work of the Encyclopédie - Diderot and d'Alembert negotiated a new contract with the publishing community around André François Le Breton, Antoine-Claude Briasson, Michel-Antoine David and Laurent Durand out. This stipulated that Diderot should receive 7200 livre, 1200 livre after the publication of Volume I and the further 6000 livre at a rate of 144 livre in the following months. Converted, this would be around 78,000 to 90,000 euros, see above.

    When Diderot visited his family and friends in his hometown Langres for a long time in November 1754, a local notary Dubois advised him to renegotiate his contract with the publishers. The new conditions stipulated that Diderot should receive 2500 livres for each completed volume and another 20,000 livres at the end of the Encyclopédie project. Diderot probably received around 80,000 livre for his 25 years of work on the Encyclopédie , which corresponds to an average of 32,000 to 38,000 euros per year. The Parisian publishing community under Le Breton made a profit of 2.5 million livre, a publishing of the century. Worldwide, around 25,000 copies of the Encyclopédie had been sold in various editions by 1789.

    When the Encyclopédie project was at its peak, a large number of craftsmen and other professions were directly or indirectly involved: engravers , draftsmen , typesetters , printers and bookbinders , to name but a few. The Encyclopédie comprised 17 volumes with articles from 1751 to 1765 and eleven volumes with illustrations from 1762 to 1772, 18,000 pages of text, 75,000 entries, of which 44,000 were main articles and 28,000 minor articles with a total of 20 million words.

    The target group for the expensive and extensive encyclopédie were probably wealthy and probably also educated people from the class of the bourgeoisie , the nobility and the clergy. It can also be assumed that the number of readers was greater than that of the owners.

    Early philosophical works

    In addition to the Encyclopédie , Diderot always had other works in the works. The translation of Shaftesbury's Inquiry was more than a translation into French. Already in its extensive title Principes de la Philosophie morale ou essai de M. S *** . sur le mérite et la vertu. Avec Réflexions ( 1745 ) showed the commentary character of this work, which was provided with extensive accompanying texts that made Diderot's own position clear. As early as 1746, following the Shaftesbury translation, he had published his Pensées philosophiques (“Philosophical reflections”), in which he first developed materialistic and atheistic ideas of a radical enlightener . In 1748 he also published the erotic novel Les bijoux indiscrets ("The chatty gems"), which was a scandalous success.

    In the Pensées sur l'interprétation de la nature ("Thoughts on the Interpretation of Nature", 1754 ) Diderot worked as a theoretical scientist . The text was a plea for the principle of experiment and against the rational explanations of nature of the Cartésiens , the rationalist thinkers in the wake of René Descartes . Diderot sees the cognitive process as an interaction between observation , combined reflection and experiment. The world seems to him fundamentally recognizable, he rejects agnosticistic positions as well as a knowledge of nature based exclusively on mathematics or its overemphasis, the latter in contradiction to D'Alembert and his Essai sur les éléments de philosophie (1759). But also the critical appreciation of the philosophical positions of Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis , presented in his Système de la nature ou Essai sur les corps organisés  - initially in Latin in 1751 as Dissertatio inauguralis metaphysica de universali naturae systemate and under the pseudonym “Dr. Baumann from Erlangen ”- in which he dealt with Leibniz's doctrine of monads and their significance for natural philosophy, were incorporated into Diderot's Pensées sur l'interprétation de la nature .

    This text, divided into short articles in an aphoristic way , bases knowledge on three tools: observation of nature , reflection and scientific experiment. In this approach he was linked to the philosophy of John Locke and Isaac Newton (see Article XV ).

    "One focus of the methodology designed by Diderot in the Pensées sur l'interprétation de la nature is to set up provisional hypotheses based on the observation of empirical reality , which should be the starting point for new scientific questions and research objects, but always explicitly as approximate , as to be set again by research. The same relative claim to validity also applies to Diderot's philosophical theories, which are supposed to offer an overall draft as a synthesis of the research results of the natural sciences, but again, in accordance with the always open progress of the sciences, may only be stops of thought, never endpoints. [...] An essential feature of the method postulated by Diderot for natural research consists in the value of the hypotheses, the overall theories, even the speculations compared to that of Newton's postulate " Hypotheses non fingo " [means: in experimental philosophy there are no assumptions] rehabilitate the thought model of his contemporaries, to put the hypotheses in a methodical context with observation and experiment. "

    - Ursula Winter : Scientific methodology and morals. In: D. Harth, M. Raether: Denis Diderot or the ambivalence of the Enlightenment, pp. 157-184.

    In Article XXIV. Outline of Experimental Physics , Diderot described their scope and tasks (“(…) experimental physics is generally concerned with existence, properties and use”) and subsequently defines these and other terms derived from them. In Article XXIII he differentiates the types of philosophy: "We have distinguished two types of philosophy: experimental and rational philosophy." In the following articles, a synthetic conclusion was sought from both aphorisms. From Article XXXI , examples and the assumptions derived from them are formulated.

    In general, the influence of the thinking of John Locke on Denis Diderot was not insignificant; His most important work for epistemological sensualism, An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding ("An attempt on human understanding", 1690) had already been translated into French by Pierre Coste in 1690 under the title Essai sur l'entendement humain . Like the English sensualists, Diderot also starts from the sensual foundation of knowledge, thus also the priority of expérience over raison in the process of knowledge.

    In 1749 the already mentioned philosophical writing Lettre sur les aveugles à l'usage de ceux qui voient ("Letter on the blind for the use of the sighted") came out, in the Diderot, based on the thesis that someone born blind (see also Visual perception ) have no way of conceiving the existence of God , whose existence is in doubt. In this monograph, Diderot deals with the philosophical considerations of the blind Cambridge mathematician Nicholas Saunderson , whose thoughts were strongly influenced by atheistic considerations. But it was William Molyneux who first addressed this so-called Molyneux problem in 1688 . Diderot takes on the "perspective" of the blind and demands that the sighted think into his imagination. In the Lettre sur les aveugles a change in Diderot's view became clear. The deistic-pantheistic views represented in the Pensées philosophiques were replaced in favor of more materialistic-atheistic ideas.

    In 1751 he contributed to a foundation of philosophical aesthetics with the Lettre sur les sourds et muets, à l'usage de ceux qui entendent et qui parlent ("Letter about the deaf and dumb for the use of the hearing and speaking"). In addition, Diderot addresses the phenomenon of language and its connection with the sensual environment. In a kind of metaphysical anatomy ( espèce d'anatomie métaphysique ) he introduces the sensualistic consideration of how a person would perceive his environment if individual sensory organs were switched off and asks how he can perceive the environment through only one sense organ, like himself thus represented the world in every single one of the senses . In the Lettre sur les sourds et muets , Diderot creates a scenario consisting of a group of five people, each of whom would have only one meaning and each believed to see the world in its entirety. He concludes that, thanks to their consciousness, memory and their ability to abstract, these people would be able to generate a number concept from their different perceptions and to communicate about it. Analogous experiences of the different senses could lead to an abstract concept of numbers and thus to a meaningful dialogue. On the other hand, the communicating people would have to consider each other to be crazy; because everyone judges everything with their individual sensory performance.

    In the same year Diderot was admitted to the Royal Academy of Sciences of Frederick II alongside D'Alembert .

    In his philosophical writings in particular, Diderot was downright enthusiastic about the idea of ​​development, an idea that embraced the entire universe. All life arises from the material substrate. Matter can thus also be living matter, which is able to develop living things and sensitivity ( sensibilité ) without having to assume a final causality in this development or production . The ultimate inaccessibility of this finality shows the human inability to understand nature according to one's own standards, in the assumption that in this inadequacy lies the prohibition to subsume nature under the reason and will of a god . God was thought of as a human being increased to infinity. Nature is the whole, the circle in which all life emerges from one another. This whole has a temporal sequence, a development, so that beings come into a flow of time. In matter he saw the substance of becoming, which he imagined less concretely than his friend Paul Henri Thiry d'Holbach, for example. If his interpretation of nature was to be scientifically founded on the one hand, it was at the same time a draft filled with feeling and imagination, which Goethe was later to demand in a similar way .

    Author of novels and dialogues

    The novel was a literary genre that only began to free itself in the 18th century from the prejudice that it was frivolous, superficial and moral.

    Diderot worked on novels and short stories that, in retrospect, seem surprisingly modern and mostly only appeared posthumously. In 1760 and 1761, for example, he wrote the church-critical , sensitive novel La religieuse ("The Nun"), which describes the ordeal of an involuntary nun and is today his most widely read (also filmed) work (printed in 1796). Diderot was an admirer of the works of Samuel Richardson , and much of his novels Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded ( 1740 ) and Clarissa or, The History of a Young Lady ( 1748 ) found its way into La religieuse . While he was working on his novel Le Neveu de Rameau , Richardson died on July 4, 1761. In his Éloge de Richardson (1760) he praised him for raising the genre of the novel to a serious level. In this he differed from Voltaire, but also from Rousseau, who opposed the innovator of the English novel. They were therefore also counted among the anciens and not, like Diderot, among the modern ones . In his passion for Richardson, Diderot even criticized his confidante, Sophie Volland, for taking a negative attitude towards the novel Pamela .

    In general, the influence of English literature on Diderot was considerable. While his first publications were translations of English texts into French, followed by La religieuse , which was influenced by Richardson , there are parallels in Jacques le fataliste et son maître (1776) to Laurence Sternes The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman ( 1759 - 1767 ). Sterne, who stayed in Paris several times between 1762 and 1765 during his travels through France and Italy and made the acquaintance of Baron d'Holbach, Diderot and others there, is considered an important inspiration for Jacques le fataliste . It is known that Sterne commissioned his publisher in London to send him some of the already completed volumes of his edition of Tristram Shandy to be given to Diderot. Later Diderot wrote to Sophie Volland that he was reading the "most foolish, wisest, most cheerful of all books" with Tristram Shandy .

    From 1760 to around 1774 Diderot wrote the experimental novel Le Neveu de Rameau ("Rameau's Neffe", first printed in Goethe's German translation in 1805, in a French back translation in 1821, in the originally rediscovered original text not until 1891).

    The novel Jacques le fataliste et son maître , begun in 1773 and finished in 1775, was published in the handwritten journal Correspondance littéraire from 1778 to 1780 (first published in print in 1796). As a framework , Diderot chose the nine-day trip of the servant Jacques with his master to a wet nurse in order to settle the debts for the care of a child that was put on him. The trip offers the opportunity to weave more stories. The relationship between Jacques, who is convinced of the determinateness of all events but capable of life and active, and his lethargic and passive master who believes in free will , inspired Hegel to develop his dialectic of domination and servitude in the phenomenology of the spirit , as did him ambivalent protagonist of the Neveu de Rameau to distinguish between "being in itself" and "being for itself".

    In Diderot's unpublished writings with a satirical tendency, there are clear doubts about the optimistic, enlightening worldview that he publicly represented with the Encyclopédie . His former friend and later adversary, Rousseau, accused Diderot of having dissuaded him from optimism.

    For Diderot, writing in dialogue form was very important in both plays and essays. He developed his thoughts in exchange with a virtual counterpart. These imaginary interlocutors were sometimes called a listener ( auditeur ), sometimes a reader ( lecteur ) or interlocutor. Over time, there was also a change here: while the dialogue partners in the Entretien entre D'Alembert et Diderot (1769) as part of the trilogy of Le Rêve de D'Alembert and in Le Neveu de Rameau (1769) were still specific people in the story Ceci n'est pas un conte (1773) as an abstract interlocutor ( interlocuteur ), with which the partner only had a few personal traits, to finally address the concrete personality in the Supplément au voyage de Bougainville (1772) as a conversation between A. and to cancel B even further.

    Language considerations

    Diderot took the term “ language ” very broadly - gestures and facial expressions were part of it, non-verbal communication in general, especially the melodic-rhythmic voice guidance, and more generally prosody . For Diderot, articulated language, whether spoken or written, was just one of the forms of human expression. He agrees on this with Étienne Bonnot de Condillac . Diderot can be described as a sensualist who was also under the influence of the encyclopedist Charles de Brosses .

    He laid out his thoughts on the development of language in the Lettre sur les sourds et muets à l'usage de ceux qui entendent et qui parlent (1751). Here he also replies to Charles Batteux 's writings Les beaux-arts réduits à un même principe (1747) and Lettres sur la phrase française comparée avec la latine (1748). Another important discussant was the collaborator at the Encyclopédie and founder of the language- typological approach Nicolas Beauzée .

    Diderot saw the development of language as a process in which signs are increasingly being replaced by words. When it came to communicating emotions, extraordinary sensations or extreme mental states, however, he gave the signs, the gestural language, priority over the spoken language. For him, language is more based on emotions and affects, and thus on poetry and music, than on rational thinking and logic.

    In his Lettre sur les sourds et muets , Diderot tries to trace the distinction between a natural order of language and an artificial language. Based on the distinction between the natural objects of perception, he assigns a special role to the adjectives . In natural languages ​​it leads to nouns , to a certain extent from properties to objects. The language of the signs also follows this principle. In his reflections that a natural language requires an artificial language, Diderot clarifies the basic problems of the theories of language formation. For how does one come to differentiate between the objects of perception without having signs? And how do you develop the criteria that, based on the adjectives (or properties), lead to the formation of nouns from the expression of ideas?

    He also dealt with the considerations of a general syntax of the thinking organ. Up until the Enlightenment, it was thought that language also contained the basic categories of logic . In other words, one was convinced that the word also reproduced the thing, i.e. that it was directly related to it or translated into modern terminology that there was an essential unity between the signifier , the linguistic form and the signified , the linguistic content.

    Diderot dealt with the concept of inversion , which was a central aspect of the grammar of Port-Royal in the 18th century. He also dealt with the considerations of César Chesneau Du Marsais and de Condillac on this.

    For Diderot there was an originally natural word order , a property-centered and a later thing-centered word order . He too saw in the inversion, which should be common to all high-level languages , a recourse to the originally natural word order. Diderot assumes the position of a nominalist in his theory draft : he negates any original connection between the word and the object .

    Batteux, Du Marsais and de Condillac assumed that the first names were formed by imitating sounds, onomatopoeia . Diderot, on the other hand, thinks that the relation of a vocal utterance to a thing that is to be designated by it was first established through gestures - there is simply no relationship between utterance and thing that is directly understandable to the opposite. In addition, he assumes a development in the existence of malleable sounds: starting with easily spoken sounds, the organs of articulation have gradually become capable of forming more difficult to form through practice. He calls this original stage of language usage langage animal . It is a state of juxtaposition of sounds and signs.

    This stage is gradually being replaced by that of the langue naissante . The vocabulary required for mutual understanding was essentially created. At first something perceptible was designated by only one sense, that is, object properties, the first words were therefore predominantly adjectives. Then, starting with objects that can be grasped by several senses, nouns were formed. By abstraction from the sensible properties, further, more general terms were finally created. She discovered that articles , nouns , adjectives and verbs present, it still lacked the declination and conjugation . At this level, gestures and facial expressions are still indispensable for understanding the linguistic statements.

    Finally the langue formée is formed . All parts of the linguistic statement are now syntactically linked, gestures are no longer necessary for understanding.

    For Diderot, the temporal structures in the different languages were ultimately of decisive importance. He described the transition from the langue naissante to the langue formée with the term "harmonies", by which he understood the sound quality , the rhythm in the connection of vowels and consonants as well as in the syntax , i.e. the arrangement of words. The simultaneity of both harmonies creates poetry .

    For Diderot, language and words are always tied to experiences , connotations or associations and thus shape human thinking.

    His assumptions on the theory of perception and the beautiful

    In a letter of July 7, 1688 to John Locke , William Molyneux posed the following problem, the Molyneux problem :

    "Dublin, July 7, 1688
    A problem posed to the author of the 'Essai Philosophique concernant l'Entendement humain'

    Suppose: an adult, born blind man who has learned to differentiate with his sense of touch between a cube and a ball made of the same metal and almost the same size, and who can tell when he has touched one or the other which of the cube and which is the ball. Suppose the dice and ball are placed on a table and the man has become sighted. The question is: whether he is able, through his sense of sight, before he has touched these objects, to distinguish them and to tell which is the ball and which is the cube?
    If the learned and ingenious author of the above treatise thinks this problem is worthy of attention and answer, may he at any time refer the answer to someone who values ​​him greatly and is

    His most humble servant.
    William Molyneux
    High Ormonds Gate in Dublin, Ireland "

    Provided, according to Diderot, that the blind man can see clearly enough after a successful eye operation to distinguish the individual things from one another, he would then immediately be able to give the things he felt the same name as those he felt saw now ? What could someone say who is not used to “thinking and reflecting on himself”?

    The previously blind person is very well able to distinguish a geometric body, such as a sphere, from a cube. In the opinion of Diderot, a person who was previously born blind does not need his sense of touch, but more time so that his sense of sight can adapt to his task. Diderot therefore by no means assumed that the use of the sense of touch was essential to solve the Molyneux problem.

    He assumed that it would be easier for educated people who were trained in philosophy, physics or, in the case of geometrical bodies, in mathematics to bring things they felt into harmony "with the ideas that he had gained through the sense of feeling", and convince yourself of the "truth of their judgment". He assumed that this process is much faster in people who are trained in abstract thinking than in people who are poorly educated and have no practice in reflection.

    In his letter on the blind for use by the sighted , Lettre sur les aveugles à l'usage de ceux qui voient , Diderot of 1749 comes to the assumption that the quality of perception is independent of the number of sense organs . It is backed by empirical position because of the senses which come perceptions in the sensorium commune , the common sensorium . He draws a metaphor for this sensorium commune in the Rêve de D'Alembert (1769) ; the “spider” conceived as a brain in which all impressions and perceptual contents converge and the “spider web”, because all the fibers of the senses flow into the spider, and the touching of the web evokes corresponding reactions. But if perception is independent of the number of senses, then the question arises as to the security and reliability of the perception process. Because in the result, the content of perception would be - regardless of the nature of the sensory organ - abstract, we would provide the contents not give a true reflection of reality, but only realities in abstract signs that we, thanks to the experience ( expérience could interpret).

    By the sensation mediated (total) reality from the reality is not an absolute for Diderot, but have only the character of a relative importance. Because each sense constitutes its own (sub) reality, which only when combined together enables an idea of the human being to reality. A lack of sensory devices therefore necessarily led to a modification of the (overall) reality, which would consequently result in a change in the spiritual and ethical sensitivities of the human being, a point of view that he developed especially in his letter about the blind .

    In this he contradicts Charles Batteux , who wrote in his Les beaux arts réduits à un même principe (1773) that the arts are imitations that are mediated by the human senses. A nature imitated in this way does not present itself in its essence , but in its appearance. Batteux sees this theory of imitation as the basis for all arts; in other words, the same aesthetic laws apply to poetry as to painting and music. Diderot opposes such a unifying theory of the arts in his Lettre sur les sourds et muets (1751).

    In the article on the beautiful ( Beau ) Diderot presents his views on the beautiful in a detailed discussion; he appeared in the second volume of the Encyclopédie in 1751. This article was published as a preprint as early as 1750 and indicates that it seemed significant enough to him to make it available to the public independently. It contains all the important considerations for Diderot's aesthetics .

    The beautiful appears in the perception of the viewer , Diderot was convinced that the beautiful object could produce this effect itself. Diderot rejects the idea of ​​an objective beauty; through his methodical approach to explaining his thoughts, he made it clear that the emphasis is on the perception of relationships ( rapports ). For Diderot, beauty was directly related to an abstract concept of art.

    If the aim of the visual and performing arts of the 18th century was to imitate nature in particular - they looked for the subjects in reality and handed over normative rules to implement the design - then the yardstick for the evaluation was nature itself and, if possible, one perfect illustration, i.e. creation of an artistic reality, which thereby contains the greatest content of beauty and thus truth.

    Diderot distinguished between the forms in things and the forms of our imagination. Our intellect does not place the relationship of form in things; it only notices the relationship between the two forms. Everything is beautiful that can arouse the idea of ​​relationships ( rapports éloignés ) within a manifold understood as a unity, precisely as an expression of an abstract concept of art. A multiplicity hidden in reality organized by a network of connections. Beauty is not an absolute value; Depending on whether the object to be viewed is to be judged on its own or with other objects of its kind, there are different qualities of beauty.

    Diderot differentiated between a real beautiful ( beau réel ), also “beautiful outside of me” ( beau hors de moi ) and a perceived beautiful ( beau relatif ), also “beautiful in relation to me” ( beau par rapport à moi ). Beauty as beau réel consists in the harmonious proportions of all its parts to the whole, but the beau relatif of an object is based on a higher number of rapports and thus represents a higher degree of beauty. Diderot points out that beauty is not an absolute value be; A value judgment of the beautiful is therefore only possible on the assumption that human beers exist who, due to the similarity of their physical and psychological constitution, could make such a value judgment.

    For him, the act of artistic appropriation was related to scientific knowledge. Truth is the goal for both sensual processes or relationships to the object. This is achieved through a correspondence of the judgment or the beauty of the picture with the thing. The degree of beauty of an object increases when more than one relationship ( rapport ) can be recognized. But this increase is limited by the fact that the number of relationships is arbitrary or confusing.

    For Diderot, the perception of relationships is the basis of beauty, and everyday nature is to a certain extent the first model of art. Diderot understood nature to mean the whole of reality, which also includes everyday human existence, he drew attention to all interpersonal facets.

    The art critic

    In 1665, the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture initiated an art exhibition, which was then made accessible to a wider public from 1667 and took place at more or less regular intervals. These exhibitions took place in the Grande Galérie du Louvre, also Cour Carrée , from 1699 , and were called le Salon for short . This salon also served art sales in association with Parisian gallery owners.

    From 1759 Diderot visited these salons, often together with Sophie Volland, up to 1781 and described his impressions and reflections in a total of nine salons . Even more, in the years that followed he dealt with art history and the techniques of painting and became one of the first professional art critics with the nine articles that he wrote about the Paris salons between 1759 and 1781 for the handwritten magazine Correspondance littéraire, philosophique et critique of his friend Melchior Grimm .

    In 1759 Diderot wrote his first salon with only eight pages. The one from 1761 already had 50 pages and those from 1763 to 1767 had not only become more extensive, but also clearly showed his development or individuation as an art critic. Diderot not only acquired expertise, but also counted several painters to his circle of friends. In Diderot's salons of 1769, 1775 and 1781 a stagnation in his assessment of the fine arts is noticeable. Fundamental to his reflections he described aphorism-like in the monograph Pensées détachées sur la peinture, la sculpture, l'architecture et las poésie (1772).

    He had become a connoisseur of painting and was able to discuss technical details, image design and arrangement as well as the effects that the paintings produced. It was the artistic productions of François Boucher , Jean-Honoré Fragonard , Louis-Michel van Loo , Charles André van Loo , Jean Siméon Chardin or Claude Joseph Vernet that stimulated his aesthetic reflections, for example under the term le beau in his Encyclopédie .

    In the weighting of the individual art genres , parallels to theater theory became apparent. So he saw in genre painting , i.e. the representation of everyday action scenes, only a “simple imitateur, copiste d'une nature commune” and for classical history painting a “créateur d'une nature idéale et poétique”, but in his Pensées détachées sur la peinture, la sculpture, l'architecture et la poésie ( 1772 ) he carried out the following:

    “It seems to me that the division of painting into genre and history painting makes sense, but I wish that the nature of things would be taken into account a little more when dividing it. The term genre painting is applied without any distinction to those painters who deal with flowers, fruits, animals, groves, forests and mountains, as well as those who take their scenes from everyday domestic life; Teniers , Wouwerman , Greuze , Chardin, Loutherbourg and even Vernet are called genre painters. I, on the other hand, affirm that the 'father reading to his family', the 'ungrateful son' and the 'engagement' by Greuze and the 'seascapes' by Vernet, which present all kinds of entanglements [ incidents ] and scenes, are in for me History paintings are the same as the 'Seven Sacraments' by Poussin , the 'Family of Darius' by Le Brun or the 'Susanna' by Van Loo. "

    - Denis Diderot : Pensées détachées sur la peinture, la sculpture, l'architecture et la poésie (1772)

    One inferred from the quote that ultimately certain forms of genre painting could appeal more to the viewer's sentiment. Because they are not exclusive, they could show the general human more clearly.

    For Diderot, beauty will be expressed in the fine arts ( les beaux-arts ) through the following conditions:

    For Diderot, it is important to achieve an assessment through an unbiased, methodical examination of the works of art. He did not base his observation on any universal and timeless standards, but he prefers the representation of the original and everyday to the idealized and exaggerated. The sensual image effect, the sentiment of the viewer, is more important to him than the assessment of the degree of technical perfection .

    Diderot summarized his understanding of art, his art theory , in a variety of letters and essays in literary magazines or salon descriptions. There is therefore no coherent art theory of his (see also aesthetics ). Rather, he wrote about art in the form of reflections on his own subjective feelings and ideas. This created an immediacy, a close proximity to the observed art object , which is shown in its explanatory descriptions and its effect on the viewer. Diderot mentions the works of Anna Dorothea Therbusch , u. a. his portrait and its creation in his Correspondance litteraire of 1767.

    His work as an art agent for the Russian tsarina

    After Friedrich Melchior Grimm and Dmitri Alexejewitsch Golizyn sold the Diderot library to the Russian Tsarina Catherine II in March 1765, Diderot's postal contacts with the Tsarina became closer. In addition to being employed as a librarian in his own library, he was appointed imperial art agent and in 1767 was appointed a member of the Russian Imperial Art Academy ( Russian Императорская Академия художеств ).

    Denis Diderot, together with Dimitrij Alexejewitsch Golyzin and Baron Grimm u. a. the Crozat collection. It was originally created under the efforts of Pierre Crozat and was sold to Saint Petersburg in 1772 with the support of Denis Diderot, so that the Crozat collection is now largely located there in the Hermitage. This unique collection - it contained works by Peter Paul Rubens , Rembrandt van Rijn , Raffael da Urbino, Tizian and others. a. - first passed to Crozat's nephew Louis François Crozat (1691–1750) and after his death Louis-Antoine Crozat , Baron de Thiers (1699–1770) received the art collection , which combined it with his own collection, mainly French and Dutch Artist included. He later inherited the picture collection of his younger, childless brother Joseph-Antoines Baron de Tugny (1696–1751) and merged the collections. Louis-Antoine Crozat also continued collecting and enriched the collection again. The tsarina sought advice from Étienne-Maurice Falconet before the purchase , and in October 1771 the collection, or more than 400 paintings, was acquired by Catherine II for 460,000 livres . As a thank you for the mediation, Diderot received fine sable hides from which he had a winter coat made.

    In 1772 Diderot acquired two paintings for the Tsarina from the collection of Madame Marie Thérèse Rodet Geoffrin . M me Geoffrin commissioned it from Charles André van Loo in 1754 . The collection of François Tronchin (1704–1798) was also brokered by Diderot; it contained almost a hundred paintings a. a. by Philips Wouwerman , Nicolaes Pietersz. Berchem and Gabriel Metsu .

    Diderot and the theater

    With Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais , Denis Diderot was one of the inventors of the bourgeois tragedy . He was on friendly terms with the French playwright Michel-Jean Sedaine , and both views on the drama were alike.

    He admired Samuel Richardson's novels Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded (1740) and Clarissa or, The History of a Young Lady (1748) - as in his writing Éloge de Richardson ( 1760 ) - because it succeeded in making moral issues vivid and exciting in everyday events and those around them. His novels made the reader forget that they were fictions . Diderot developed his theory of realistic detail ( roman réaliste ) on Richardson's works . It is details embedded in the action that contribute to the authenticity of the whole. After all, the art of a poet or a painter either through detail to the reader or viewer the reality near to bring.

    Diderot often chose the form of dialogue as a means of expressing his thoughts, and he also had - and not only as one of the most important art reviewers of his time - a sense of the scenic and gestural to a large extent. He wrote several dramas , which today are rarely performed because of their uneventful plot, little interested in probability, but were successful in their time thanks to their haunting portrayal of contradicting feelings and inner conflicts as well as their closeness to reality expressed by the bourgeois subjects.

    The best known were Diderot's “drames bourgeois” Le Fils naturel ou Les épreuvres de la vertu (“The natural son”, 1757), which was premiered in the year of publication on the estate of the Duke d'Ayen in Saint-Germain-en-Laye experienced, and Le Père de famille ("The family father", 1758), which was first performed in 1760 in Marseille, then on February 18, 1761 in Paris by the Comédiens français . Both dramas are marked by civil family conflicts: in Le Fils naturel , a young man virtuously tries to leave his boyfriend with the woman he has fallen in love with against his will and who in turn feels magically attracted to him, but ultimately as reveals his half-sister. In Le Père de famille , a father who actually only strives for a suitable conventional marriage for his two children allows them, after long internal conflicts, to have the love marriages they desire, which subsequently prove to be socially acceptable. Even more important than the plays were the theoretical drama essays that Diderot added to his two dramas, such as Entretiens sur le fils naturel as the epilogue of the drama mentioned in the title and De la poésie dramatique as a supplement to the père de famille . They established the new genre also theoretically outside the traditional genres tragedy and comedy located somewhere drame bourgeois ( "bourgeois tragedy"), which should be better than those representing the reality of the era and of course use any verse, but prose.

    The conservative-royalist publicist Élie Catherine Fréron was one of the contemporaries who tried to attack Diderot with sometimes dishonest means. For example, he accused him of plagiarizing some of his plays and produced, or better constructed, 'evidence' for them.

    Diderot's theater theory

    Diderot became important for the development of the theater ( Parisian fairground theater , Comédie-Française ) less through the performance of the dramas themselves - which hardly got going in France - but rather through his theoretical work, in which he sought to renew contemporary drama .

    In the French drama of the 18th century, courtly themes and productions dominated. Diderot, on the other hand, wanted to write for the emancipating bourgeoisie and was therefore anxious to establish a bourgeois tragedy as a new theater genre , which he also called genre sérieux . The theater should deal with topics as they occurred in everyday life and start from the usual, as it were, "private" feelings of people in order to achieve a renewal of dramatic art. The drame sérieux thus led to the dissolution of the strict genre boundaries between comedy and tragedy. However, Diderot did not resort to adding up the extremes in order to overcome the separation of the genres into tragedy and comedy : his pieces dispensed with both pronounced comic elements and the declamatory pathos of tragedy. The servant roles were also omitted as reminders of the class difference that necessarily separated the two genres during the Ancien Régime (class clause ). He places the dramatic form proposed by him between classical drama ( comédie classique ) and comedy, which he in turn differentiates into a serious ( comédie sérieuse ) and a funny comedy ( comédie gaie ).

    Diderot demands that the poet should neither raise his own voice in the drama nor in the dialogues of the novels , rather he must give the characters a language and expression appropriate to their character and situation. A moving theater, according to Diderot, lives less from the spoken word than from mimic expression; it has to be in prose, since nobody speaks in verse in everyday life . At the same time, the social role and function of the characters - including their bourgeois professional life - should be more closely integrated into the stage work. Diderot was more committed to the work of the English playwright George Lillo (1691–1739) than to Shakespeare's theater .

    A central theme of French acting theory in the 18th century was the question of sensibilité : To what extent should the actor sympathize with the feelings of the character to be portrayed, i.e. follow the principle of "emotional acting"? Here the acting performance was measured against the necessary sensitivity. Diderot, too, initially followed this view of acting in his earlier writings.

    In 1764 the English actor and friend of d'Holbach David Garrick was in Paris for a guest appearance. In the years from 1769 to 1770, Fabio Antonio Sticotti (1676–1741) published his Garrick, ou les acteurs anglois . Diderot's review of the French edition, “Observations on the Little Book called Garrick, or the English Actors” ( Observations sur une brochure intitulée: Garrick, ou, Les acteurs anglais , 1770) shows a changed view. He had already explained it in a letter to Melchior Grimm dated November 14, 1769: There is a beautiful paradox - it is the sensitivity ( sensibilité ) that produces a mediocre actor, but even more the extreme sensitivity that produces a narrow-minded actor, and just the cold mind and head that make a great mime. Diderot became a proponent of the theory that an actor should consciously keep his distance from the character to be portrayed, that is, he had to follow the principle of "reflective acting".

    In the dialogue Paradoxe sur le comédien (“The Actor's Paradox”), which he wrote from 1770 to 1773, he completely distanced himself from emotionality. He advocated a rational, cool, and observant actor; not the passionate soulful actor, but the inner sober one move the minds. The perfect actor therefore embodies the following paradoxes.

    1. The paradox of naturalness: The impression of spontaneity and authenticity therefore only arises through the planned and controlled imitation of an action .
    2. The paradox of emotion : the actor should reproduce the natural signs of an emotional movement outwardly, while avoiding an inner personal emotional involvement. Because only when the actor is not moved can he move.
    3. The paradox of the effect: Ultimately, the actor only succeeds in triggering true emotion if he does not intend to achieve a certain effect.

    For Diderot, a successful drama does not come about when the actor acting on the stage identifies himself with his respective role and expresses his “real feeling”. Because then, firstly, he can only play himself or at least a very limited range of roles and situations, and secondly, this is not even effective on the stage. Rather, the actor must decide and carry out with a cool distance which course of action always seems to him the most appropriate. For example, Diderot turned against the so-called aside speaking , rather an actor should not fall out of the role and break the fourth wall , for example by responding to expressions of approval or disapproval from the audience.

    This also ensures the reproducibility of the game, which is not the case with soulful, identifying acting. Diderot distinguishes three types of actors:

    • the bad actor, but little sensibility has,
    • the mediocre actor who is very sensitive, and
    • the sublime actor who shows no sensitivity.

    A good actor must have good judgment , a cool observer, be gifted with a strong understanding and without sensitivity and be capable of imitation. For Diderot, an actor should work out his role through imagination and judgment, he called it, creating a model ideal that, when rehearsed, can be reproduced at any time. In a modern way, a psycho-physical conception is interpreted, a model to which the actor has accommodated and which he can reproduce from memory by means of physical exertion. Diderot warns the actor about the great emotional fluctuations that prevent the actor from the mental and physical concentration that he absolutely needs for the uniform structure of his role play.

    Diderot's criticism was directed against the performance practice of the classical French tragedy ( tragédie classique française ), because instead of the stylized scenery on a small stage, he wanted a large stage that would enable simultaneous scenes to be presented. Instead of local uniformity in the entire play, a change of location should be sought, which should be clearly identified in the change of the set .

    Diderot's influence on theater theory extends to Bertolt Brecht and his theory of alienation , which essentially served to make a distance between what is represented and what is represented (see also drama theory ).

    Journalistic activities

    In the course of his literary life, Diderot worked on various journalistic projects. The press appeared in France as early as the 17th century, so the news newspaper La Gazette and the weekly newspaper Nouvelles ordinaires de divers endroits had been published since 1631. The term “journals” initially means journals in general, so the journals of the 18th century were initially only literary periodicals, i.e. publications with a review character.

    In 1740 Diderot wrote articles for the Mercure de France and the Observations sur les écrits modern , in 1747 he planned a. a. together with Rousseau the edition of Le Persifleur , in the Correspondance littéraire, philosophique et critique by Grimm, he wrote his first review on January 15, 1755 with the note Cet article est de M. Diderot, which is typical for him . In 1775, Grimm's longtime secretary Jacques-Henri Meister took over the editing of this publication. This also relieved Diderot, who in the fifties and sixties had made four to five contributions a year - mostly smaller or larger commissioned works of literary and art-critical content. Noticeable is Diderot's frequent involvement in the absence of Grimm.

    The Paris booksellers guild, represented by the publisher André Le Breton , asked Diderot for a text on the subject of freedom of the press . In 1763 he wrote the Mémoire sur la liberté de la presse , addressed to Antoine de Sartine , the successor to Malesherbes as directeur de la librairie .

    Reflections on music or his position in the Buffonist dispute

    On August 1, 1752, an Italian opera group led by Eustachio Bandini a. a. Giovanni Battista Pergolesi's opera La serva padrona at the Académie royale de musique in Paris. Grimm now ignited a dispute which, as the Buffonist dispute, shaped the public discussion.

    This escalation had a decades-long tradition and was expressed in the competition between French and Italian opera theater groups. In the course of the disputes, which lasted almost two years, a number of works by mostly leading music theorists and philosophers on this topic were published. In the 17th century, the distinction between dessin , the drawings or the melody , unlike the couleur , color, or the chords important in music. In the 18th century, this pair of terms, dessin and couleur , was mainly used by Jean-Jacques Rousseau for musical aesthetics. It was a time when the imitation de la nature , rather than the artistic idea, determined the status and value of a work of art. And in these chords or harmonies Rousseau saw the old, traditional, which might please the ears, but was devoid of life and soul. According to Rousseau, these were based solely on conventions, for the exact understanding of which one actually needs a dictionary or an exact compositional specification from Rameau. The Italian music is to be seen through its melody, which integrates singing and reaches human feeling, in contrast to the mathematical differentiation of Rameau's compositions, for which the harmonic structures are more important and appeal to the mind rather than the feeling.

    At first glance, the question of which genre of opera should be given preference, the Italian opera buffa or the traditional French tragedy lyrique . The most prominent representative of French opera was Jean-Philippe Rameau , the composer and music theorist who campaigned against the music and compositional practice of the late Jean-Baptiste Lully around 1722 . Rameau composed Traité de l'Harmonie (1722) according to harmonic laws , which were based on the order of mathematics. In the middle of the 18th century, however, after the initial support of some encyclopedists, it was increasingly associated with the musical sensibility of the Ancien Régime. These encyclopedists initially defended Rameau against Lully, but positioned themselves against Rameau and Lully in 1752. Rameau's compositional background in the 17th century also remained stuck to Cartesian thinking, with his aesthetic being based on the principle of imitating nature.

    The protagonists of the querelle des Bouffons were Grimm with his Le petit Prophète de Boehmischbroda (1753) and Rousseau Lettre sur la musique françoise (1753). They took a position for the Italian version of the opera because here the music comes first and, together with an emotive language, gives the opera a maximum of expression. Diderot took the side of his friends and defended the positions they vehemently defended, as well as Rousseau's opera Le devin du village . On the other hand, the defenders of the French operatic style saw it as an impossibility for actions of everyday life to be illustrated with music. After all, singing as a means of dramatic formation only works on a higher level of idealization, i.e. with sublime subjects, such as from mythology or history.

    Still, Diderot attacked less French opera than its dogmatic proponents. And so Diderot only occupies a middle position in this dispute and some of his views on this were not published shortly. It may now be that he had his encyclopédie project in mind, and he wanted Rameau to work with it, it may be that the pointings were too pointed for him, the considerations, for example, the stage sets of the operas less pompous and more mundane To assimilate life found his unreserved approval. Overall, the Buffonist dispute only played a subordinate role for him. Ultimately, Diderot campaigned for new subjects in music that should give this opportunity to awaken real passions.

    Diderot was very interested in music; In 1769 he got to know the music theorist and author Anton Bemetzrieder through the harpsichord lessons for his daughter .

    Diderot's mind

    If one looks at Diderot's work as a whole, he never arranges his thoughts into a unified and comprehensive system (“coherently systematizing philosophical system”), but a fixed reference system can be found or one can be reconstructed . But the reflections distributed over his entire oeuvre give the impression of the inequality up to the contradictory, paradox in his assumptions. This shows Diderot's peculiarity in the variety of appearances, the frequent solution in the form of dialogue. Diderot's thinking and reflecting are directed towards one aspect, which he does not work through systematically in relation to his overall work, but penetrates the current aspect without considering the philosophical whole. Diderot also seldom provides source references, and his references are no longer directly accessible to the recent reader, so that his humanities roots can only be discovered indirectly. The analysis of Diderot's philosophical historical facts of his oeuvre is made more difficult by his incomplete correspondence and the equally fragmentary evidence of his library, which was exported to Russia and disseminated there; the accompanying catalog was also lost.

    This may be due to the fact that Diderot rejected dogmatic thinking in any form. From his point of view, such consistent rejection of a system spirit may be based on the fact that all metaphysical systems, no matter how elaborate, do not allow an absolute truth or the essence of things to be grasped. For Diderot, dogmatism is an expression of intellectual limitation and reflexive one-sidedness, since such attitudes absolutize the abundance of complexity of reality and allow only a limited form of reconstructable reality . This shows his epistemological and metaphysical skepticism .

    The lack of a directly coherent and systematic philosophical system does not mean that Diderot was not able to solve questions in his writings through a uniform, systematic and logical structure. The following works are cited as examples of such an exclusive approach: Mémoires sur différents sujets de mathématique (1748), Éléments de physiologie (1773–1774) or the article Beau from the Encyclopédie . A claim that Diderot's works are characterized by a fundamental inability to think methodically can by no means be confirmed. Rather, he solved complex philosophical questions in various literary genres.

    In human knowledge he assumed that material things acted on the senses and thereby caused a perception in the human mind. With these perceptions the mind is concerned, entendement , to deal with mémoire , raison and imagination according to the main ability of the human mind . But these also determined the basic structure of the sciences and arts in human knowledge; for example, the story include memory, mémoire , as its basis, the philosophy based on reason, raison , is based and the poetry that, from the imagination imagination , is apparent.

    According to Diderot, “ knowledge techniques ” led to human knowledge as important procedures. Collected experiences (observations), i.e. the material things that affect the senses, are transformed into hypotheses (reflection), the meaningfulness of which is confirmed or negated by testing in the experiment (experiment) through selective compilation or new combination. One therefore only arrives at truth when perceptual contents come from the senses to the reflection and through the reflection and the experiment to the senses again.

    Diderot pursued a materialistic concept which was based on the Pensées sur l'interprétation de la nature ("Considerations on the interpretation of nature", 1754), the Le Rêve de d'Alembert (1769) ("D'Alembert's dream", 1769) and finally the Éléments de physiologie ("Elements of Physiology", 1774) expressed a monistic position.

    Diderot developed his world of thought in various literary forms and genres that he preferred, such as the sketch , the essay , the dialogue , the dream, the paradox , the letter and ultimately the conte .

    The meaning of the term sensibilité universelle in the reflections of Denis Diderot

    Diderot was shaped by the discourse of turning away from Cartesian thinking and turning to empiricism with English characteristics, which became more and more apparent from the 18th century . At the same time, the notion of human sensitivity experienced an important meaning as an explanation of interpersonal processes, so one spoke of a feeling sensation, sensibilité de l'âme , on the one hand and on the other hand of an internalized moral sensitivity that was connected with prevailing values . This understanding of sensitivity was included in medical discourse over the course of the century and interpreted as a property of the irritable nervous system. But also the vitalistic ideas, such as the Doctrine médicale de l'École de Montpellier, influenced Diderot in a similar way as his intellectual closeness to Shaftesbury . It was the Pensées sur l'interprétation de la nature (1751) that led Diderot to his first scientific work. In this monograph he took on a critical appraisal of the philosophical positions of Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis. That Maupertuis, who in his Système de la nature ou Essai sur les corps organisés - initially in Latin in 1751 as Dissertatio inauguralis metaphysica de universali naturae systemate and under the pseudonym Dr. Baumann published - had dealt with the Leibnizian doctrine of monads and their significance for natural philosophy. Maupertuis, too, gave the molecules of matter a kind of sensibility in order to explain movement and development as organic life.

    As early as 1759, Diderot wrote a letter to Sophie Volland , in which he reported that he was discussing it at the Château du Grand Val with d'Holbach and the Scottish “father Hoop”, le père Hoop , a medical graduate. The articles on the animal, animal , and being born, naître , also revolved around this complex of topics. This idea of ​​a “sensitive matter”, or a universal sensibility, sensibilité universelle , he had designed between 1754 and 1765, more precisely in another letter this time to Charles Pinot Duclos dated October 10, 1765. It was precisely that sensibilité générale de la matière or sensibilité universelle , which turns inorganic into organic and was the basic hypothesis of Diderot's understanding of nature. Life arises from the successive combination through the sensitive "molecules" of matter, similar to a swarm of bees. In Diderot's natural philosophy, the universe consists of sensitive and energetic "molecules" that can recombine and, as it were, dissolve again through their inherent powers. A constant change is the result.

    Scheme for the representation of the emergetic monism by Denis Diderot.

    In 1769 Diderot wrote the Le rêve de D'Alembert and dealt with the question of the transition from inanimate, inorganic matter to animate, organic matter with the concept of sensibilité . In the section on Entretien entre d'Alembert et Diderot of Le rêve de D'Alembert (1769), he first reflects on the concept of "movement". This should not be understood as (physical) movement in the narrower sense, i.e. the transport of a body from one place to another, but rather a property of the body itself. Then, in the further dialogue, he comes to the unity of matter and sensibility, sensibilité générale de la matière or sensibilité universelle , and tries to use an analogy from physics. So he compares the living force, force vive , with the dead force, force morte . The living force would have the modern physical meaning of work or kinetic energy , while the concept of dead force would be ascribed to potential energy . This against the background that the difference between mechanical force and energy was not yet clearly conceptually differentiated in the 18th century. These two forces correspond, as it were analogously, to the sensibilité inert and the sensibilité active . In the inorganic world, sensitivity is only potentially contained as sensibilité inerte , but it carries the possibility of its development within itself. Thus the emergence of the living world is conditioned by the release of the potential forces contained in the matter itself, the sensibilité active .

    His “matter” is sometimes also thought of as “atoms” in diderotic “molecules”, which, however, immanently carry an indispensable property, namely that of “sensitivity”, sensibilité. Both are the guarantors for the development, or development dynamics. Whereby “sensitivity” only emerged with a certain level of organization. As such, some of these Diderotian “molecules” have properties that already have their precursors in them and that, as it were, they get from them; in addition, "resulting" properties or new properties arise which the preliminary stages did not yet have and which only emerge from the interaction of the elements, so that Diderot's conception of "matter" or his concept of materialism can also be called " emergetic monism ”.

    Diderot's views on the biological world of thought

    Denis Diderot was very interested in biological issues. These questions revolved around the themes of the origin of matter and its transition from the inorganic world to the organic, living forms, the origin of species in time, the questions of spontaneous generation and pre-existing germs, and so on. Ä. m., so in Le rêve de D'Alembert (1769), De l'interprétation de la nature (1754) and Éléments de physiologie (1773–1774). Diderot read, met or had an intellectual exchange with Paul Henri Thiry d'Holbach , Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon , Théophile de Bordeu , Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis , Albrecht von Haller , Abraham Trembley , John Turberville Needham , Marie Marguerite Bihéron and other contemporaries .

    In his biological thinking, Diderot was committed to the idea of ​​transformation. His acceptance of the sensibilité générale de la matière gave him the opportunity to explain the origin of life through the release of the forces potentially contained in matter, force morte and force vive . In the letter about the blind for use by the sighted (1749), he stated that although nature could shape itself out of its inherent forces, only those forms remained that were viable and whose structure did not contradict its surroundings stand These thoughts are reminiscent of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution . But the idea of natural selection is still missing . He seems closer to Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck , who was supposed to present the first scientific theory of evolution around 1800 .

    “Bordeu: He's right. The organs create the needs, and vice versa: the organs create the needs. "

    - Denis Diderot : D'Alembert's Dream (1769). In: Philosophical writings. Volume I, p. 537.

    Diderot's concept of matter contains, so to speak, the unity of matter and sensibility. He tries to explain an analogy from physics. In Le rêve de D'Alembert, for example, he compares the living with the dead force ( force vive and force morte ), whereby the living force corresponds roughly to the modern physical concept of work or kinetic energy , while the dead force corresponds to potential energy .

    This “matter” is assigned the possibility of development and progression to independent formations with equal immanence. According to Diderot, the prerequisite for this is that one assumes “sensitivity”; He differentiates between inactive and active sensitivity. “Matter” is the whole consisting of individual “molecules”, Diderot sometimes also spoke of “atoms”, which then combined in an infinite variety to form bodies or components, including living organisms. These building blocks combine to form a whole, a coherent whole, which has the potential to become living organisms and the development of consciousness. This explains beings as a combination of “sensitive molecules”. Thus the transition from the inorganic to the organic and ultimately to the living becomes a continuum.

    For Diderot, the living and thus also the human being is part of the causally determined universe, and therein a highly complex, structured connection of "molecules", which is no longer determined by his reason, by postulated innate ideas ( ideae innatae according to Cartesian innatism ), or distinguish an immaterial soul from the rest of the living being . Life only differs gradually in its “molecular” complexity. An idea that seems more influenced by his participation in the lectures of Guillaume-François Rouelle , according to Cours de chimie de Rouelle , than by the idea of ​​de Buffon, who still ascribes an extraordinary status to people in the chaîne des êtres .

    Diderot ascribes the inorganic world the potential for an immanent development towards the organically living. However, this should not be misunderstood as a spontaneous generation or generatio spontanea . Rather, the Diderotian “molecules” show their characteristic properties through the ability to feel, sensibilité , also sensibilité universal , precisely those of constant transition and permanent transformation. He attributes the transition from the matière inerte to the matière active to the action of an internal agent, which he calls energy . In addition, “matter” was endowed with sensitivity in Diderot's terminology . However, equating the sensibilité with the German field of terms of “sentiment” or “sensation” does not do justice to Diderot's considerations. In D'Alembert's dream, for example, he compares the living force, force vive , with the dead force, force morte . The difference between mechanical force and energy had not yet been clearly worked out. These two forces correspond, as it were analogously, to the sensibilité inert and the sensibilité active .

    In the very letter to Sophie Volland, which Diderot wrote from Grand-Val on October 15, 1759, he clearly stated that a being could never pass from the non-living state to the living state. A transition from inorganic “molecules” to organic life was inconceivable for “matter” that was only conceived in a physical and chemical way. According to Diderot, no combination of inorganic “molecules”, no matter how complex, would be capable of such an interpretation of “matter”. But through the inclusion, through the addition of a purely physical-chemical concept of matter by the postulate of a sensibilité universal (Diderot's own concept of matter), inorganic, dead, can develop into living and conscious life.

    Diderot's monism and knowledge from experience

    The effect of the inner agent, the energy, is reminiscent of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz , whose works he valued, but for Leibniz this agent was completely immaterial. Although some of it is reminiscent of a vitalistic position, such as the life force ( vis vitalis ), his stance is closer to the Montpellier school, Doctrine médicale de l'École de Montpellier , which is called "vitalistic materialism".

    With Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon , who was close to the encyclopedists, there were similarities in the view of the theory of nature. He, too, director of today's Jardin des Plantes since 1739 , opposed a purely Cartesian and mathematical conception of science. Diderot propagated the idea of ​​a ladder of matter or of the types on which animate and inanimate nature would be arranged in stages according to perfection. An idea that de Buffon also took as a basis. He should first write an article under the entry nature for the Encyclopédie . Diderot never received this article, but the two authors remained on friendly terms.

    For Diderot, the individual species, here using the quadruped as an example , have developed from a primordial animal , an archetype of all animals; nature has done nothing more than lengthen, shorten, redesign, multiply or omit certain organs of the same animal - so in the Pensées sur l'interprétation de la nature (1754). These ideas seem to be in exchange with the ideas of de Maupertuis and his Système de la nature ou Essai sur les corps organisés (1751) and those of de Buffon and Louis Jean-Marie Daubenton in the fourth volume of the Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière , (1752 ) originated or at least been influenced by them.

    Diderot understood development as a succession of metamorphoses that modified the shape of the primordial animal in the sense of the above. Between these “species transitions”, clear separations or boundaries that distinguished one species from the other were not in the focus of his considerations, rather the transition from one species to the other was thought of as something imperceptible and gradual. To him it seemed that whole species could emerge and die one after another, just like the individuals of each of the species. An idea of creation is negative, he did not keep the faith, but nature observation or experiment for the substantial support the assumption that species are immutable since an assumed creation.

    But Diderot's view cannot be equated with the idea of evolution in the narrower sense. Although the idea of ​​an imperceptible and gradual transition from one species to the other represented a first important step towards the later idea of ​​the classification of the individual species.

    Economic and political considerations

    Diderot was able to follow three major wars in his life, such as the War of the Polish Succession from 1733 to 1738, the War of the Austrian Succession from 1740 to 1748 and the Seven Years' War as the first mondial event from 1756 to 1763. In 1751 Diderot wrote the article Political Authority ( “Autorité politique”) for the encyclopedia. Here he emphatically questioned the divine right of kings and rulers as well as the natural law derivation of their authority. He saw the solution not in the Montesquieu separation of powers, but rather in a monarchy supported by the consent of the subjects, the regent acting as the executor of the will of the people. However, a single enlightened monarch is no guarantee against despotic aspirations.

    Diderot did not develop any clearly defined political ideas that should have replaced a system like that of the Ancien Régime. But he stated in general that no human being is allowed to rule over another human being without restriction. Rather, the subjects would have to secure themselves against the ruler, and vice versa, through a social contract, consentement .

    Through his contacts with François Quesnay , Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours and the other members of the school of the Physiocrats , he was initially close to their positions. With the decree on the grain trade of July 19, 1764, the ideas of François Quesnay prevailed. According to this, the unlimited export of grain should be made possible and all obstacles of the Colbertian regulations removed, in order to make the market a natural instrument of regulation of the economic system. Encouraged by Ferdinando Galiani , whose Dialoges sur les commerce des blés Diderot edited, he changed his mind. Abbé Galiani's opinion contradicted that of the government under César Gabriel de Choiseul-Praslin and his (physiocratically oriented) General Controller of Finance, Étienne Maynon d'Invault , as well as Jacques Neckers . Because of this explosiveness, Diderot published the Abbé Galiani's dialogue only in December 1769, after d'Invault had been removed from his office and replaced by Joseph Marie Terray , who was open to the Abbé Galiani's thoughts.

    For the Physiocrats, as well as for Anne Robert Jacques Turgot , the Marquis de Condorcet and d'Alembert , economic liberalism was inseparably linked to the idea of ​​political liberalism . For Abbé Galiani and Denis Diderot, however, these considerations missed the reality: A self-adjusting "natural order in the economic system" would develop into a state of the haves, in which the interests of individuals or groups face the concerns of the general public and the population would prevail. Diderot therefore changed not only his economic, but then also his political conceptions. He finally broke with Physiocratism after traveling to Bourbonne-les-Bains and Langres, where he was confronted with the misery of the peasants. In his Apologie de l'abbé Galiani (( 1770 ), published 1773), he defended his rejection of the free grain trade.

    His important political texts include the Voyage de Hollande (1773), the Observations sur Hemsterhuis , Réfutation d'Helvétius (1774), the Essai sur les règnes de Claude et de Néron (1778), Dialogues sur le commerce des blés (1770) and the Histoire des deux Indes . Some texts were letters or replies, such as the Première lettre d'un citoyen zélé (1748) to MDM subsequently identified as Sauveur François Morand , the letter Lettre sur le commerce des livres (1763) to Antoine de Sartine , the Observations sur le Nakaz ( 1774) and the Plan d'une université (1775), both to Catherine II of Russia. Almost all of the works mentioned appeared in the 1870s.

    Diderot between monarchy and tyranny

    Diderot's main political and economic writings were written between 1770 and 1774. In them he also described his disappointments with the " enlightened monarchs ", such as the Tsarina Catherine II of Russia, and even more with Frederick II of Prussia .

    The tyranny is for Diderot the appropriation of power par excellence is, this will not lead to a world of present happiness, bonheur présent but verwandele the world into a place of misery. Its consequences are thus comparable to those of the theologians' teaching - who relate everything to the coming happiness, bonheur à venir - who thereby spiritually disoriented people and would lead them to mutual murder. Diderot illuminated the consequences of tyrannical rule in his Lettre sur l'examen de l'Essai sur les préjugés, ou Pages contre un tyran (1771) and in the Principes de politiques des sovverains (1774). With the image of the Prussian monarch Friedrich II, Diderot had the Machiavellian and despotic tyrant in mind. According to Diderot, there is nothing sacred for such a man, sacré , because a tyrant would give up everything in favor of his claim to power, even the happiness of his subjects. Even more, the Frederickian state was for him a military state whose politics and monarchical power were only aimed at increasing the latter, but not for the benefit of its subjects.

    Diderot and Friedrich II of Prussia

    In 1770 Diderot's friend d'Holbach published anonymously in London with the initials Mr. D. M. the "Essai sur les préjugés ou de l'influence des opinions sur les mœurs et sur le bonheur des hommes". In this essay on prejudices he called for a general, state school system as well as a merger of the first and third classes under the aegis of philosophy. It was Frederick II of Prussia who contradicted this work with his own essay, Examen de l'Essai sur les préjugés par le philosophe de Sans-Souci (1772). This reply, published by Voss in Berlin, was submitted by the King to Voltaire on May 24th and d'Alembert on May 17th, 1772. Frederick rejected the claim, which was more related to French conditions, that kings, for example, were the support of the church and of superstition.

    Frederick II wrote to d'Alembert and Voltaire a. a. the following lines:

    “They are surprised that there is a war in Europe that I don't know about. You know that the philosophers with their constant declamations against what they usually call robbers made me peaceable. The Empress of Russia may wage war as much as she will; She has received a dispensation from Diderot for a fair price to let the Russians and Turks beat each other. I, who fear the philosophical censorship, the encyclopedic excommunication and do not want to commit any crime of the Laesio philosophiae, keep quiet. And since no book against subsidies has yet been published, I believe that I am permitted under civil and natural law to pay my ally the contribution owed to him; and I am quite right with those teachers of the human race who presume the right to scourge princes, kings and emperors who do not obey their rules. - I have recovered from the work: 'Experiment on Prejudices', and I am sending you some remarks which a friend of mine made in solitude about it. I think that the views of this hermit very often agree with your way of thinking as with the moderation you observe in all of your writings. "

    - Friedrich II .: Selected writings of war studies by Frederick the Great. Translated by Heinrich Merkens (1836–1902), Hermann Costenoble, Jena 1876, II, pp. VII – VIII.

    The reaction of the Prussian philosopher king did not go unanswered, Diderot wrote the Lettre de M. Denis Diderot sur l'Examen de l'Essai sur les préjugés in 1774 . Friedrich II was judged differently by Diderot. In 1765 in the Encyclopédie in the article Prusse he rated the monarch's literary achievements as positive. There was, however, an antipathy between Diderot and the Prussian king , not least on the part of Diderot because of the Silesian Wars ( First Silesian War (1740–1742) and Second Silesian War (1744–1745)) and the longer Seven Years' War (from a Prussian point of view, too referred to as the Third Silesian War ). Although his earlier attitude towards the Prussian monarch - Diderot had been accepted as a foreign member of the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences in 1751 - was even more positive. Thus, according to Diderot, the Prussian king rendered outstanding services to the renewal of the sciences, as well as the arts, and their protection.

    When Diderot began his trip to the Russian tsarina in Saint Petersburg from 1773 to 1774 , he consistently avoided being close to the Prussian residences in Potsdam and Berlin, even though the Prussian king had invited him several times. For Diderot, Frederick II was a destroyer of peace, he harbored deep dislike for the Prussian monarch and saw the Frederician state as a military state with Frederick II at the center as its tyrannical, Machiavellian despot.

    Diderot and colonialism

    In 1770, Guillaume Thomas François Raynal , usually Abbé Raynal for short , published the first edition of The History of Both India ("Histoire philosophique et politique des établissements et du commerce des Européens dans les deux Indes"), ie of India or Asia ( East India ) and the Caribbean and Latin America ( West Indies ). He describes how European countries deal with their colonies and names the consequences of global and intercultural trade. Diderot worked intensively on this work.

    First published in 1770 - in six volumes - in the Netherlands , in Amsterdam, then in 1774 - in seven volumes - in The Hague and in 1780 - in ten volumes - in Geneva, the constantly expanded work became more and more consistent. It was banned as early as 1772, and the clergy immediately placed the version from 1774 on the index . After all, it was on May 21, 1781 after a ruling of the Paris Parlement the stake over to.

    Raynal was threatened with imprisonment. He fled, left France and went to Switzerland and Prussia. Diderot defended the Abbé Raynal without hesitation and consistently against attacks by the clergy and the administration. In this situation there was a break with Friedrich Melchior Grimm , who played an inscrutable and intriguing game between Abbé Raynal, Denis Diderot and his contacts at the French court. Diderot wrote a letter to Grimm on March 25, 1781, in which he broke up with his former close friend, disappointed; however, the letter did not reach the addressee.

    "The History of Both India" was a pamphlet against slavery , colonialism and political tutelage and despotism , which corresponded to Diderot's views. The work was a bestseller , it had large editions and was also reimported to France from surrounding countries through pirated prints .

    Diderot's political philosophy, like his other reflections and approaches, was less systemic. The original human condition ( state of nature ) was understood by him as a struggle for survival against the rigors of nature, for which people would have to get together, in the sense of a community, sociabilité . For him, justice was a universal concept that was just as valid for the state of nature as it was for a developed community. In his encyclopedia article Natural Law , droit naturel , the pursuit of property and profit was accepted as a general human quality and thus understood as a general will. These strivings can be developed individually according to the abilities that lie in the individual person. Diderot does not design utopian conditions for human coexistence. He considered a human community to be successful when religious and legal regulations neither contradict one another nor contradict the natural needs of humans. The natural needs depended on the geography, the climate, the development of civilization and the like. a. m. from.

    In the addendum to Bougainville's journey (“Supplément au voyage de Bougainville”, as preliminary work for the first time in 1772 in the Correspondance littéraire ), Diderot refers to that of Louis Antoine de Bougainville in the four-part first version in 1773 and 1774 and finally published posthumously in 1796 1771 published year Voyages autour du monde ( 1771 ). Diderot takes the travelogue as an opportunity to analyze the society of the Ancien Régime through a controversy in the form of a dialogue.

    Volonté générale and volonté particulière at Diderot

    The term volonté générale or general will appears for the first time in the texts of the two French philosophers, theologians and mathematicians Antoine Arnauld and Blaise Pascal , where it stands in the context of the Catholic doctrine of grace and refers to God as the subject.

    Diderot defines volonté générale in the article droit naturel of the Encyclopédie as follows:

    “In every individual, the general will is a pure act of the understanding, un acte pur de l'entendement , which, while the passions are silent, thinks about what a person can demand of his own kind and what his kind is entitled to demand from him is. "

    Diderot contrasts this general will with the private will of the individual, the volonté particulière . In Diderot's consideration, the general will was not only related to the state or the ruling political structure, but to all of humanity. For him it was the only principle of order inherent in the human world and has the character of a general principle. This is another reason why he used this term in its plural form .

    Considerations on the gender order

    For Diderot, sexuality and gender-specific behavior in the sense of a science de l'homme can best be derived from medical and biological considerations. In many of his literary productions, for example, in Les bijoux indiscrets (1748), La religieuse (1760), Le rêve de D'Alembert (1769), and Supplément au Voyage de Bougainville, he paid tribute to the influence of the genitals and their effect on female behavior (1772), more attention. Female life is examined in detail in Sur les femmes (1772) and in Paradoxe sur le comédien (1769).

    Even if Diderot spread the ideas about femininity of his time in many ways, he clearly takes a position against degrading degradation or even violence against women. In a sense, he contradicts Antoine Léonard Thomas Qu'est-ce qu'une femme? (1772), who in his essay often remained stuck with gender stereotypes .

    For him, women were able to feel more anger, jealousy, superstition, love and passion. But this excess of emotions is less pronounced in the "drive to lust" than in men. This voluptuous drive is very delicate in the female sex and can sometimes be completely absent. In his work Sur les femmes (1772), Diderot saw the female orgasm , l'extrême de la volupté , as so differently shaped by the otherness of her genitals and her “drive to lust” that sexual satisfaction could be expected more regularly for men. Women, on the other hand, have to strive for it, and they do not succeed in achieving this fulfillment as naturally as their male counterparts, since they have less control of their senses. Diderot assumed that women had a more delicate body and a more unstable soul .

    Diderot and religion

    Although Diderot did not seem to be concerned extensively with questions about religion, he often faced this complex of topics literarily in his life.

    His direct life history relation to religion and church was shaped by the influences in a Catholic- Jansenite environment, the attendance of the Jesuit school and the minor ordinations obtained in 1726 by the Bishop of Langres to call himself an Abbé and to be able to wear spiritual clothing from then on. The early death of his sister, Angélique Diderot (1720–1749), who had joined an Ursuline order and died there at a young age in a state of mental confusion. About his confrontation with deist positions, which developed in Paris, towards a more and more atheistic position. On September 2, 1732, he completed a theological-propaedeutic college course in Paris with the degree of a Magister Artium , maître-des-arts de l'Université . However, he did not pursue the subsequent study of theology any longer, rather he ended his academic career at the Sorbonne on August 6, 1735 with a bachelor's degree .

    Between the years 1746 and 1749, the Pensées philosophiques (1746), where his deistic position still seems to emerge most clearly, appeared, followed by the Lettre sur les aveugles à l'usage de ceux qui voient et des Additions (1749), in which he this theological stance then increasingly called into question. Using the blind man and his limitation in his sensory modality , he paradigmatically showed that the rational-deistic conclusion of the visible miracles in nature cannot generally and inevitably lead to a divine creator. In his later work Le rêve de D'Alembert 1769, developments in the world are understood as a process of fermentation.

    In July 1766, he wrote the following lines in a letter to the engineer Guillaume Viallet (1728–1771), Ingénieur ordinaire des Ponts et Chausséese to a friend of Charles Pinot Duclos :

    “Cette religion étant, à mon sens, la plus absurd et la plus atroce dans ses dogmes; la plus inintelligible, la plus métaphysique, la plus entortillée et par conséquent la plus sujette à divisions, sectes, schismes, hérésies; la plus funeste à la tranquillité publique, la plus dangereuse pour les sovverains par son ordre hiérarchique, ses persécutions et sa discipline; la plus plate, la plus maussade, la plus gothique et la plus triste dans ces cérémonies; la plus puérile et la plus insociable dans sa morale considérée, non dans ce qui lui est commun avec la morale universelle, mais dans ce qui lui est propre et ce qui la constitue morale évangélique, apostolique et chrétienne; la plus intolérante de toutes. "

    - Denis Diderot : "Lettre à Viallet" (Juillet 1766), dans Correspondance Inédite, Denis Diderot, éd. Gallimard, 1931, p. 333

    In a letter to Tsarina Catherine II (1774) he wrote:

    "[L] e philosophe n'a jamais tué de prêtres et le prêtre a tué beaucoup de philosophes. (...) "

    “The philosopher has not yet killed a priest. But the blood of numerous philosophers sticks to the hands of the priests. "

    Against the background of the confrontation between Tsarist Russia , and from 1721 with the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire in the Russo-Ottoman Wars , in modern times there was not only a military but also an intensified, critical confrontation between Russia Islam as a worldview in the rest of Europe ( Turkish wars ). In addition, the power elites mixed religious motives with aspirations for great power. The Enlightenment elite also dealt with this religion, in addition to Diderot, François-Marie Arouet called Voltaire , such as Le fanatisme ou Mahomet le Prophète (1741).

    In relation to the prophet and founder of Islam Mohammed , Diderot expressed himself a. in 1759 in a letter to Sophie Volland , but also in an entry in the Encyclopédie on the “Philosophy of the Saracens or Arabs” (1765): “Le saint prophète ne savait ni lire ni écrire: de-là la haine des premiers musulmans contre toute espèce de connaissance […] et la plus longue durée garantie aux mensonges religieux dont ils sont entêtés. ”Diderots also summarized his position in his Histoire générale des dogmes et opinions philosophiques :

    "On peut regarder Mahomet comme le plus grand ennemi que la raison humaine ait eu."

    "We can see Mohammed as the greatest enemy that human reason has ever had."

    - Denis Diderot : Histoire générale des dogmes et opinions philosophiques. Volume 3. London 1769.

    Late philosophical works

    Diderot's most important philosophical works include D'Alembert's dream ( Le Rêve de D'Alembert ) from 1769. In the form of a dialogue, he presents his materialistic positions, considers the sensitivity of matter, differentiates this sensitivity and tries to develop the living To describe matter.

    An important text is the essay Principes philosophiques sur la matière et le mouvement (“Philosophical principles about matter and movement”) , which appeared in 1770 and only contains a few pages .

    Between 1773 and 1774 Diderot wrote the Éléments de physiologie . Although the work has the form of an aphorism-like collection and mainly contains notes, paraphrases , explanations, comments and reflections on medical-anatomical-physiological topics, it has partly the character of a textbook, partly that of a methodical reflection on the essence of living matter. The shape suggests that it is an unfinished work. In order to improve his knowledge of human anatomy , Diderot attended one of her weekly anatomy classes with the modeler for anatomical wax preparations , Marie Marguerite Bihéron . Around 1774 he read many contemporary anatomical, physiological, medical and anthropological writings, including the Elementa physiologiae corporis humani by Albrecht von Haller (1757–1766), the Medicine de l'Esprit (1753) by the French surgeon Antoine Le Camus and the Nouveaux éléments de la science de l'homme (1773) by Paul Joseph Barthez .


    General information on the publication history and compilation of his oeuvre

    Some important philosophical works on Diderot's materialism found their way into the wider public only posthumously. In addition, the author had never explicitly committed himself to a materialistic position or placed such in the foreground. In contrast, the texts for the Encyclopédie or Diderot's contributions as a novelist found far greater attention in scientific research and philology. Jacques-André Naigeon became the first editor , compiler , and commentator of Diderot's work and thus the work's first administrator. In 1798 , contrary to the explicit wishes of Diderot's daughter, he published a fifteen-volume, incomplete edition of Diderot's work and an appreciation of his oeuvre . Unfortunately, he is also suspected of having made substantive changes to Diderot's texts.

    As Œuvres complètes , Jules Assézat and Maurice Tourneux were later to edit a twenty-volume, nonetheless incomplete, edition that was published between 1875 and 1877.

    An important milestone in Diderot research was the discovery of previously unknown material in 1948 by Herbert Dieckmann . It was presented in 1951 under the title Inventaire du fonds Vandeul et inédits de Diderot . After the last direct descendant of Diderot, Charles Denis and Albert Caroillon de Vandeul (1837-1911), propriétaire d'Orquevaux , died in 1911 , Denis Diderot's estate was passed on to the House of Le Vavasseur. Dieckmann found this estate of Baron Jacques Le Vavasseur at the Château des Ifs ( Département Seine-Maritime ). It originally belonged to the collection of Diderot's daughter Marie-Angélique de Vandeul. With this work, Dieckmann laid the foundation for a new, complete and critical Diderot edition, the Œuvres complètes of 1975. Dieckmann did not undertake the editorial work alone, he was supported by Jean Fabre , Jacques Proust and Jean Varloot .

    A large number of Diderot's texts can be found in the Correspondance littéraire, philosophique et critique , which has been distributed exclusively in handwriting at various European courts since 1753. An important step in researching this extensive text material was taken by Bernard Bray , Jochen Schlobach and Jean Varloot in a colloquium and anthology ( La Correspondance littéraire de Grimm et Meister (1754–1813). Actes du Colloque de Sarrebruck , 1976) or by Ulla Kölving and Jeanne Carriat (1928–1983) with her Inventaire de la Correspondance litteraire de Grimm et de Meister from 1984.

    Early reception and assessment in France

    Diderot had a negative nimbus in post-revolutionary France. The decisive factor was the author and critic Jean-François de La Harpe , who was involved in the French Enlightenment and , although he defended Diderot posthumously against attacks in the Mercure de France , in later times he accused him of moral corruption and disparagingly with negative connotations of atheism and materialism. His distorting and negative judgment was subsequently reflected in French, but also English and German literary reviews and philosophy stories.

    The French writer Eusèbe de Salverte (1771–1839) wrote an Éloge philosophique de Denis Diderot (1801) during the Napoleonic era . The encyclopedist and writer Jean-François Marmontel found many words of praise for Denis Diderot in his posthumously published Mémoires d'un Père pour servir à l'instruction de ses enfants (1805). The French theologian, church historian and writer Michel Pierre Joseph Picot (1770–1841) wrote - in the eleventh volume of the biography universelle ancienne et modern (1811–1828) of the brothers Louis Gabriel and Joseph François Michaud  - from 1814 a biographical essay on Diderot .

    Reviews, translations and appreciation in German-speaking countries

    Judgments in 19th century France

    It was Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve who with his Portraits littéraires (1844) not only portrayed Denis Diderot as a writer, but also emphasized his important role in the French Enlightenment. He was arguably the most consistent philosophical thinker against the Ancien Régime , although not explicitly political in his intellectual conceptions, in philosophy he was the real voice of this changing century. He was the chairman of all those undisciplined thinkers who revolted against the existing order, the bond between Voltaire, d'Holbach, Buffon, Rousseau, and others. a. m. and between the natural scientists and aestheticians, the writers and the visual artists. In his criticism, Sainte-Beuve also agreed with the opinion of conservative literary critics in France that Diderot was the “most German” of the French philosophes . An opinion that he spread that would later also shape the history of reception in the German-speaking world.

    Assessments in German-speaking countries up to the first third of the 19th century

    In addition to his writings, Diderot became known in Germany through his contacts with German travelers, for example on their Grand Tour , often mediated by Grimm and d'Holbach, who came from Germany. There were nobles among them, artists and scientists, e.g. B. 1767 Ferdinand von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel , 1768 Ernst II of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg and Karl Heinrich von Gleichen-Rußwurm (1733–1807).

    In the German-speaking world, Diderot's importance in terms of cultural transfer was recognized earlier than in France. Goethe was interested in narrative work, Lessing in theater productions, Hegel and Marx in philosophical considerations, and finally Hofmannsthal in Diderot's correspondence with Sophie Volland.

    Gotthold Ephraim Lessing dealt extensively with Denis Diderot, who was sixteen years his senior, translated Diderot's dramas, including accompanying essays on drama theory, into German and valued his philosophical background and positioned himself in his favor when he was imprisoned (see also Civil Tragedy ). Lessing valued Diderot's theater reform, especially because of the abolition of the class clause , the abolition of the heroism of the dramatic characters and the use of prosaic language in the drama.

    In May 1769, the Kant student Johann Gottfried Herder set out on a trip to France, initially by ship to Nantes and later to Paris. There it was the above-mentioned Johann Georg Wille , copperplate engraver and former neighbor of Diderot, who introduced Herder to Paris society. And that's how Herder met Denis Diderot. In 1769 he started his return journey to Hamburg via Belgium and Amsterdam. Inspired by Immanuel Kant and Diderot, Herder adopted the concept of energy in his considerations of aesthetic perception.

    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe held his thirty-six years older colleague in high regard and saw in him a soul mate of Sturm und Drang . He had received French lessons from 1758 and was later familiar with the French language and culture. Between 1759 and 1761 he saw Le Père de famille (1758) in the French theater in Frankfurt am Main and Le Fils naturel (1757). He read Les deux amis de Bourbonne (1770) and later in Weimar Diderot's philosophical and aesthetic writings. In March 1780 and 1781, respectively, he dealt with the novels Jacques le fataliste et son maître (1776) and La religieuse (1760), which had not yet been published in France . He was also familiar with the novel Les bijoux indiscrets (1748).

    In December 1796, Goethe wrote to Friedrich Schiller that Diderot had "really delighted" him and had "moved his innermost thoughts". In almost every statement he saw a “spark of light” which illuminates the art of storytelling, and he went on exuberantly that Diderot's remarks were “very from the highest and from the core of art”. In 1831 Goethe praised Diderot with the simple sentence: “Diderot is Diderot, a single individual; whoever complains about him or his things is a Philistine, and theirs are legions. "

    The first, albeit quite free, partial translation from Jacques the Fatalist and his Lord ( Jacques le fataliste et son maître ) was the episode about M me de La Pommeraye, transmitted by Friedrich Schiller and published in 1785 under the title Strange Example of Female Vengeance in the first and only issue of his journal Thalia was published. An anonymous translation back into French of this Schiller text was printed in Paris in 1793. In 1792 a two-volume translation by Wilhelm Christhelf Sigmund Mylius was published by Johann Friedrich Unger in Berlin under the title Jakob und seine Herr from Diderot's unprinted estate . In a letter of February 12, 1788 to Christian Gottfried Körner , Schiller wrote: “What activity was in this person! A flame that never went out! How much more he was to others than to himself! Everything about him was soul! (...) Everything bears the stamp of a higher excellence, of which the highest effort of other ordinary people on earth is not capable. "

    Friedrich Maximilian Klinger came to Petersburg in 1780 as an orderly officer with the rank of lieutenant in the naval battalion of the Russian heir to the throne, Grand Duke Paul I. After Diderot's death, his library was transferred to the court of the tsars, including the manuscript of Le Neveu de Rameau , previously unpublished in France , which Klinger found in Diderot's library and initially offered as a copy to the publisher Johann Friedrich Hartknoch in Riga, who refused. The copy finally came to Friedrich Schiller around 1801 ; The latter in turn handed it to Goethe, who translated and published it. It was published in Leipzig with the title Rameaus Neffe, a dialogue by Diderot . Curiously, in 1821 Goethe's translation was retranslated into French by two French writers, Joseph Henri de Saur and M. de Saint-Geniès, published in 1821 and also issued as the original. Only two years later was an authentic edition based on a copy by M me de Vandeul.

    The thought structures that Diderot expanded in his Le Neveu de Rameau and also Jacques le fataliste et son maître were in many ways related to the phenomenology of the mind published by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in 1807 . So it is not surprising that Hegel was familiar with some of the works of the French Enlightenment. In the sixth chapter of his phenomenology (section B. The alienated mind. Education and a. Education and its realm of reality ) he made explicit reference to Le Neveu de Rameau . Hegel, who analyzed the "modes of appearance of the spirit", sketched a connection between "education" and the "alienating spirit". In Diderot's dialogue two forms of consciousness of the mind would be expressed, the narrator's ego on the level of simple, not yet reflected consciousness, and the appearance of the mind in the nephew, who is already moving on a higher level within the framework of Hegel's dialectic . While the first-person narrator mostly reflects the positions of society without reflection in his remarks, the consciousness of the nephew reflects itself in relation to society and observes itself critically. He is able to do this through his education by reasoning and reflecting on music, pedagogy and the like. Hegel raised Diderot's dialogue between first-person narrator and nephew to an abstract level of dialectical development, the development of the manifestations of the spirit. For Diderot, on the other hand, the focus was on personalities and their character turmoil.

    In contrast, Immanuel Kant had made no reference to the writings of Diderot in his work. In the academy edition of the Collected Works , edited by Gottfried Martin , only one mention of Diderot and D'Alembert is documented. The comment comes from a letter from Johann Georg Hamann to Immanuel Kant in 1759.

    Assessments in German-speaking countries from the second third of the 19th century to the present

    Hermann Julius Theodor Hettner dealt with the contents of the Encyclopédie in a presentation in the history of French literature in the eighteenth century (1860) . Johann Karl Friedrich Rosenkranz was the first to write a comprehensive biography, Diderot's Leben und Werke (1866), about the French philosopher, encyclopedist and author in German.

    Friedrich Albert Lange gave Diderot space for his own interpretations in his work History of Materialism and Critique of Its Significance in the Present , published in 1866 . Lange adopts the view of Rosenkranz, who attested Diderot a contradicting character and a fragmented literary activity with a fundamentally sparkling genius of his being in bright features. Lange sees in Diderot not just a materialist, but anything but a materialist, who, however, developed into one in exchange with his contemporaries, although his conception of materialism was merely inspiring for other philosophers.

    "Here we have to adhere to the simple fact that Diderot was nothing less than a materialist before the 'homme machine' appeared, that his materialism only developed in contact with the Holbach society and that the writings of other French, how Maupertuis , Robinet , and probably even the maligned Lamettrie himself, exerted a more decisive influence than Diderot on any well-known representative of materialism. We say "determining" influence with reference to the assumption of a clear theoretical point of view, because Diderot did exert stimulating influence to the greatest extent, and it was in the nature of those fermenting times that everything that was only in the revolutionary course had a beneficial effect on one another . "

    - Friedrich Albert Lange : History of materialism and criticism of its significance in the present. 1866.

    In contrast, Karl Marx mentioned the French Enlightenment several times in his work and names him as a favorite author (“The prose writer who likes best: Diderot”) in his “Confession” of 1865. This is against the background that he is the authors of the French Enlightenment was skeptical of particular emphasis. Friedrich Engels spoke in Ludwig Feuerbach and the outcome of classical German philosophy (1886) about Diderot as a materialistic thinker who was committed to social progress and was supported by an enthusiasm for truth and law, to which he dedicated his entire life.

    Wolfgang Engler assumed that Diderot himself represented the (bourgeois) utopia of being truly human, which his drama The Natural Son exposed. In deliberate contrast to courtly conversation, in which language was simply falsehood and served intrigue and egoism, he saw at the origin of sincere communication “the problem of making a statement without making a statement.” The “principle of sincerity” is a polemic "Against a mode of communication [...] based on the contradiction between understanding (communication) and motivation (interest)". Whoever speaks or writes is suspecting that they are intending to do something and is therefore suspecting dishonesty. "Only solitary and involuntary statements can prevent sincerity from falling silent when there is a radical suspicion of motive." In his text Le Rêve de D'Alembert from 1769, Diderot lets the title character speak in a feverish sleep. “The trick of saying something without wanting and consciously meaning something was accomplished” and thus - as if by a magic trick - the truth was undoubtedly told.

    Early reception in England

    It was Thomas Carlyle who dealt extensively with Denis Diderot in 1833. His first English-speaking biographer was John Morley ; in 1875 he wrote an account of the life of Diderot Diderot and the Encyclopædists.

    Early reception in Spain

    From the middle of the 18th century, the Encyclopédie influenced wide circles of intellectual Spanish readership despite the censorship imposed by the Bourbon administration. In 1821 Diderot's La religieuse appeared as the Spanish translation La religiosa .

    The importance of Denis Diderot for the 20th century

    Diderot's reception in the 20th century is initially connected to an important intellectual center, which focuses on the work of the philosopher and historian Bernhard Groethuysen . Groethuysen stands for the Franco-German exchange of ideas during the First World War . His work La pensée de Diderot (1913) became the starting point for further reflections, questions and work that would influence the understanding of Diderot in the further course. Groethuysen sought in the thematic variety and the supposed contradictions of Diderot's thinking over different creative periods a unified uniqueness in the imagination of the French Enlightenment. Later Leo Spitzer tried to analyze his thought processes using the linguistic Diderotian expression. He presented this consideration in The Style of Diderot (1948), but remained thematically closely based on Groethuysen.

    Other interpreters are Ernst Cassirer ( The Philosophy of Enlightenment , 1932) and Henri Lefebvre , who made Diderot more present in the French-speaking area in 1949. Even Werner Krauss and his scientific focus to the French Enlightenment Diderot moved appreciatively into the overall context of the European Enlightenment. In Russia and then in the Soviet Union , Diderot's interpretations and interpretations found their way into the discussion of dialectical materialism , for example with Georgi Valentinovich Plekhanov's work Contributions to the History of Materialism (1896), or in the introduction to Lenin's Materialism and Empirio-Criticism (1908) in which he compares the philosophies of George Berkeley and Diderot.

    Representations of Diderot in art, exhibitions and honors

    Monument to Denis Diderot and the encyclopedists in the Panthéon in Paris (made by Alphonse Terroir , 1913)

    Visual arts

    One of the most famous portraits was painted by Louis-Michel van Loo in 1767. Diderot himself is said not to have liked it. Other portraits come from Jean-Honoré Fragonard 1768 and from Dmitri Levizki .

    A statue of Diderot, made by Frédéric Bartholdi in 1884, stands in his hometown of Langres . A statue of Jean Gautherin (1886) is in Paris. In 1913, Alphonse Terroir made a monument in honor of Diderot and the encyclopedia, which is located in the Panthéon in Paris.

    Film and theater

    In 1966 Jacques Rivette made his second film Suzanne Simonin, la religieuse de Diderot (Rivette preferred this title over the short version La religieuse ). The novel La religieuse (1760) by Denis Diderot served as a template for the film . The film was temporarily banned by the French censors.

    Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt wrote a comedy about Diderot's erotic adventures and the encyclopedia under the title Le libertin (Eng. Title: The free spirit ). The world premiere took place in Paris in 1997; the German-language premiere followed in the same year. Schmitt reworked the play into a script of the same name, which Gabriel Aghion filmed as Liebeslust und Freiheit ( Le libertin ) and was released in French cinemas in 2000.


    The German poet and writer Hans Magnus Enzensberger often dealt with Denis Diderot in his journalistic activities, for example in the collection Diderot's Shadows ( 1994 ) in which Enzensberger drafts a fictional interview between Diderot and a journalist with a tape recorder . During the dialogue, Diderot, who does not know tape recorders and is impressed by the technology, speaks of a “ mystification ” and describes the microphone as a “dark egg”. On the one hand, the interviewer endeavors to explain to Diderot how his tape recorder works. On the other hand, however, he endeavors to advance his questions to Diderot about social structure and order as well as "parasitism". Diderot's fictional views from the pen and perspective of Enzensberger are explained by means of various statements and provocative remarks that lead to various conclusions. Despite the cynical words that Enzensberger puts in the mouth of his interlocutor about politics and society, he sees in Diderot a philanthropist . The metaphor of the “dark egg” was found by Enzensberger in the speech act or drama (also called “mystification”) in 1990 under the title Diderot and the dark egg. Use an interview .

    Peter Prange wrote the historical novel The Philosopher (2003), the heroine of which Sophie falls in love with Diderot.

    La Maison des Lumières Denis Diderot and other honors

    On October 5th, 2013, on the 300th birthday of Langres, a museum, La Maison des Lumières Denis Diderot , was opened to visitors on place Pierre Burelle in the renovated Hôtel du Breuil de Saint-Germain . The French government planned a “symbolic reburial ” of Denis Diderot in the Paris Pantheon for 2013 .


    In 1979 a lunar crater and in 1994 the asteroid (5351) Diderot was named after Diderot.

    Fonts (selection)

    German-language editions of works

    • Philosophical writings. Two volumes, ed. and translated by Theodor Lücke. Berlin (GDR) 1961; Reprint: Berlin (West) 1984.
    • The narrative oeuvre of Denis Diderot. Four volumes, ed. by Hans Hinterhäuser, transferred by Hans Hinterhäuser , Guido Meister and Raimund Rütten. Propylaea, Berlin 1966.
    • Aesthetic fonts. Two volumes, ed. by Friedrich Bassenge . Berlin (GDR) 1967; Reprint: Berlin (West) 1984.
    • Writings on art (= Fundus. Volume 157), selected and with an afterword by Peter Bexte . Philo & PhiloFineArts, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-86572-412-4 .
    • “Do you ever know where you are going”. A reader (= humanism - newly discovered. Volume 1). Edited by Werner Raupp . With a preface by Peter Prange . Diderot Verlag , Rottenburg am Neckar 2008, ISBN 978-3-936088-95-3 .
    • Philosophical writings. Translated by Theodor Lücke, ed. and with an afterword by Alexander Becker. Suhrkamp, ​​Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-518-29684-4 .
    • Diderot's encyclopedia. With copper engravings from the table volumes. Newly edited by Anette Selg and Rainer Wieland , translated from French by Holger Fock, Theodor Lücke, Eva Moldenhauer , Sabine Müller. The Other Library , Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-8477-0013-5 .




    • Claudia Albert: Denis Diderot. In: Metzler Philosophen-Lexikon. Edited by Bernd Lutz. Third, updated and expanded edition. J. B. Metzler, Stuttgart and Weimar 2015, ISBN 3-476-01402-9 , pp. 178-182.
    • Jacques Attali : Diderot ou le bonheur de penser. Fayard, Paris 2012, ISBN 978-2-213-66845-1 .
    • Johanna Borek: Denis Diderot. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 2000, ISBN 3-499-50447-2 .
    • Andrew S. Curran: Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely. Other Press, New York 2019, ISBN 978-1-59051-670-6 .
    • Jean Firges : Denis Diderot: The philosophical and literary genius of the French Enlightenment. Sonnenberg, Annweiler 2013, ISBN 978-3-933264-75-6 .
    • Philip Nicholas Furbank: Diderot. A critical biography. Secker & Warburg, London 1992, ISBN 0-436-16853-7 .
    • Laurent Loty, Eric Vanzieleghem: Esprit de Diderot. Choix de citations. Editions Hermann, Paris 2013, ISBN 978-2-7056-8475-4 .
    • Pierre Lepape: Denis Diderot. A biography. Campus, Frankfurt am Main 1994, ISBN 3-593-35150-1 .
    • Joseph Rosenblum: Denis Diderot. In: Frank N. Magill (Ed.): Dictionary of World Biography. Volume 4: The 17th and 18th Centuries. Routledge , London 2013, ISBN 978-1-135-92414-0 , p. 412 ff.
    • Gerhardt Stenger: Diderot. Le combattant de la liberté. Perrin, Paris 2013, ISBN 978-2-262-03633-1 .
    • Franco Venturi : Jeunesse de Diderot (1713–1753). Traduit de l'italien by Juliette Bertrand. Albert Skira, Genève 1939.
    • Arthur McCandless Wilson: Diderot. The Testing Years, 1713-1759. Oxford University Press, New York 1957; Reprint: Nabu Press, Baltimore / MD 2011, ISBN 978-1-176-04824-9 .
    • Arthur McCandless Wilson: Diderot. Oxford University Press, New York 1972, ISBN 0-19-501506-1 .

    Denis Diderot in the film

    • Love and freedom (Original title: French "Le Libertin" ) 2000
    • Heroes of the Enlightenment (1/2); The power of knowledge, Arte 2012

    Web links

    Commons : Denis Diderot  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
    Wikisource: Denis Diderot  - Sources and full texts (German)
    Wikisource: Denis Diderot  - Sources and full texts (French)

    Wikisource: Lettres à Sophie Volland. Sources and full texts (French)


    Biographical ie p.


    References and comments

    1. Diderot, Denis. In: The Brockhaus Encyclopedia Online . January 1, 2012, accessed July 18, 2016 .
    2. ^ Gerhard Rudolph: Diderot, Denis. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. De Gruyter, Berlin and New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , p. 305.
    3. ^ F. Venturi: Jeunesse de Diderot. 1939, p. 12.
    4. U. Winter: The materialism in Diderot. 1972, p. 8.
    5. Cordula Neis: Anthropology in Language Thought of the 18th Century: The Berlin Prize Question for the Origin of Language (1771) (= Studia linguistica Germanica. Volume 67). De Gruyter, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-11-017518-5 , p. 63. The term “ sensualism ” was used for the first time in 1804 by the French Joseph Marie Degérando in his history of philosophy. He used it to describe modern epistemology that understood physical sensation as the origin of all thought and action. As a result, the term “sensualism” was used as a philosophy-historical category and also applied to comparable points of view of ancient philosophers. Sensualism was a particularly influential enlightenment tendency in England in the 17th century . Based on this, however, it is also a philosophical direction native to France.
    6. see Benjamin Franklin , El Mercurio Peruano , Toribio Rodríguez de Mendoza , Miguel Gregorio Antonio Ignacio Hidalgo y Costilla y Gallaga Mondarte Villaseñor ; Heinz Krumpel: Enlightenment and Romanticism in Latin America: a contribution to identity, comparison and interaction between Latin American and European thinking. Peter Lang, Frankfurt 2004, ISBN 3-631-50218-4 , p. 15 f.
    7. Compare also the Atlantic Revolutions and Enlightenment in Latin America
    8. Vittorio Hösle : The philosophical dialogue. CH Beck, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-406-54219-0 , p. 118 f.
    9. According to estimates, the proportion of literate people rose in the 18th century from 25% to 50% in the city and from 20% to 37% in the country. However, there were major differences between the occupational groups and between the sexes. See Otto Then : Enlightenment Society and Absolute State. In: Peter-Eckhard Knabe (Ed.): France in the Age of Enlightenment. dme, Cologne 1985, ISBN 3-922977-15-4 , p. 24.
    10. ^ Daniel Mornet : Les origines intellectuelles de la Révolution française 1715–1787. A. Collin, Paris 1933, Lyon 1989, Paris 2009.
    11. Jansenism, named after Bishop Cornelius Jansen (1585–1638), was a movement in the Catholic Church of the 17th and 18th centuries that was based on the grace doctrine of Augustine .
    12. Genealogy of the family, Diderot. From, accessed on May 24, 2013 (French).
    13. Portrait of the father by an unknown master from the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Langres.
    14. Denis Diderot: Rameau's Nephew and First Satire. (Oxford World's Classics) Oxford University Press, Oxford 2006, pp. XXXI.
    15. a b Raymond Trousson: Diderot. Gallimard, Paris 2007, ISBN 978-2-07-034170-2 , p. 10.
    16. ^ Anne-Marie Chouillet: Trois lettres inédites de Diderot. Research on Diderot et sur l'Encyclopédie. (1991) Volume 11, No. 11, pp. 8-18, p. 9 footnote.
    17. Langres and Denis Diderot (Haute-Marne). Association Guillaume Budé-section d'Orléans. ( Memento of April 8, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
    18. Charles Danzin: Deux dynasties alliées de Couteliers Langrois: les Beligné et les Diderot. Héraldique et généalogie, n ° 181, (2006).
    19. Janine Bouet: Les couteliers Langrois au XVIII e . DES, faculté des lettres de Dijon, 1966.
    20. Marie Souviron: Diderot, Langres et la religion. In: Recherches sur Diderot et sur l'Encyclopédie. 1988, Vol. 4, No. 4, pp. 7-36.
    21. ^ Georges Viard: Maîtres et collégiens langrois au temps de la jeunesse de Diderot. In: Recherches sur Diderot et sur l'Encyclopédie. 1987, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 19-45.
    22. ^ The Church of Saint-Pierre-Saint-Paul in Langres ( Memento of October 14, 2013 in the Internet Archive ).
    23. Langres, Corlée. Église paroissiale Saint-Pierre-Saint-Paul. ( Memento from October 14, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
    24. The following entry was found in the baptismal register

      “Le 6 octobre 1713 a été baptisé Denis, né d'hier, fils du légitime mariage de Didier Diderot, maître coutelier, et d'Angélique Vigneron, ses père et mère. Le parrain Denis Diderot, coutelier, la marraine Claire Vigneron ont signé avec le père de l'enfant. "

      - Louis Marcel : Un petitproblemème d'histoire religieuse et d'histoire littéraire. La mort de Diderot d'apres des documents inédits (suite). In Revue d'histoire de l'Église de France, Volume 11, No. 51, 1925, pp. 202-226, online.
    25. ^ Portrait of Denise Diderot (1715–1797) Musée du Breuil-de-St.-Germain. ( Memento from October 12, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
    26. Louis Marcel: Le frère de Diderot: Didier-Pierre Diderot: chanoine de la Cathédrale et grand archidiacre du diocèse, fondateur des Écoles chrétiennes de Langres. Champion, Paris 1913.
    27. The house where Denis Diderot was born in Langres with an inscription on the first floor, today a tobacco shop Journaux Tabacs le Diderot on the ground floor .
    28. Abbé has been a form of address for a Catholic diocesan priest in France since the 17th century .
    29. Ph. Blom: The reasonable monster. 2005, p. 50.
    30. ^ P. Lepape: Denis Diderot. 1994, p. 23.
    31. ^ Sébastien Herscher: Les débuts du jansénisme dans le diocèse de Langres (1654–1734). In: Revue d'histoire de l'Église de France. Year 1910, Volume 1, No. 1, pp. 1–14.
    32. ^ Blake T. Hanna: Denis Diderot: formation traditionnelle et modern. In: Recherches sur Diderot et sur l'Encyclopédie. Year 1988, Volume 5, No. 5, pp. 3-18.
    33. The Jesuits came to Langres in 1621 and built a school in the middle of the village in 1651. In 1746, several years after Diderot's visit, the original building was destroyed by fire and the construction of the new school, today's Ancien Collège des Jésuites , began immediately . The teachers from this time are known, Père Beaucamp (* 1701) in the Cinquième , the twelfth to thirteenth school year (1723–1725) and in the Quatrième (1725–1726), Desprez (* 1703) in the Troisième (1726–1727 ) and in the Seconde (1727–1728). The rectors were Père la Chapelle (1650–1725) from 1722 to 1725, followed by Père Fuzée (1658–1727) to 1727 and finally Père Boulon (1670–1732) to 1731. (For the teachers see Georges Viard : L'Encyclopédie en son temps. P. 24. Also in Dominique Guénit (ed.): L'Encyclopédie entre arts et sciences. Musée d'Art et d'Historique de Langres. (2001), quoted from Jacques Attali: Diderot ou le bonheur de penser. Fayard, Paris 2012, ISBN 978-2-213-66845-1 , p. 33.)
    34. ^ Josef Rattner, Gerhard Danzer, Irmgard Fuchs: Splendor and greatness of French culture in the 18th century. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2001, ISBN 3-8260-2048-0 , p. 79.
    35. Ph. Blom: The reasonable monster. 2005, p. 52, footnote no.5

      “Diderot's school career in Paris is actually unclear. There are references to the Collège Louis-le-Grand and the Collège d'Harcourt, but also two others, the Collège de Bourgogne and the Collège de Beauvais . […] He may have changed schools or he attended one of the schools most of the time and occasionally attended lectures from another. If you consider that he had attended a Jesuit school in Langres, that he was extremely pious around 1727, that he even wanted to run away from home to go to the Jesuits, that his father brought him personally to Paris and that finally the Jesuit college Louis-le Grand and the Jansenist Collège d'Harcourt were ideologically incompatible, then there is a high probability that Diderot first attended a Jesuit school in Paris. "

      - Ph. Blom : The sensible monster. 2005.
    36. Denis Diderot: Le neveu de Rameau. Satire tierce. Notes, presentation, commentaires de Daniel Carmantrand. Édition de Langres 1984, p. 9.
    37. Biographical data. ( Memento from July 25, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
    38. ^ F. Venturi: Jeunesse de Diderot. 1939.
    39. ^ Lester G. Crocker: Diderot. The Embattled Philosopher. Collier-Macmillan, Canada td, Toronto, Ontario 1966, p. 23.
    40. Auguste-Denis Fougeroux de Bondaroy: L'art du coutelier en ouvrages communs, par M. Fougeroux de Bondaroy. LF Delatour, 1772, p. 295, and footnote.
    41. ^ Lester G. Crocker: Diderot. The Embattled Philosopher. Collier-Macmillan, Canada td, Toronto, Ontario 1966, p. 22.
    42. AM Wilson: Diderot. 1972, p. 29.
    43. Ph N. Furbank. Diderot. A critical biography. 1992, p. 15.
    44. Jean Sgard: Observations sur les écrits modern. (1735-1743). In: Dictionnaire des journaux (1600–1789). No. 1092.
    45. Dianah Leigh Jackson: Anatomy of observation: From the Academie Royale de la surgery to the salons of Denis Diderot. In: Canadian Journal of History. April 2001, Volume 36, No. 1.
    46. ^ Johanna Borek: Denis Diderot. 2000, p. 32.
    47. ^ Johann Georg Wille: Mémoires et journal. G. Duplessis, 1857, Volume 1, p. 91.
    48. Ph N. Furbank. Diderot. A critical biography. 1992, p. 13 f.
    49. ^ Johanna Borek: Denis Diderot. 2000.
    50. Robert James: A medicinal dictionary, including physics, surgery, anatomy, chemistry and botany. 3 Vols., London 1743–1745, in the translation by Denis Diderot: Dictionnaire universel de médecine. traduit de l'Anglais de Denis Diderot u. a. 6 Vols., Paris 1746–1748.
    51. Carmela Bisaccia et al. a .: Nephrology in A Medicinal Dictionary of Robert James (1703-1776). In: Journal of Nephrology. Volume 24 (Suppl. 17), 2011, pp. 37-50.
    52. Les docteurs de la mine. Julien Busson, “docteur des Lumières”.
    53. the title of a translation Johann Joachim Spalding 1747, see Laurent Jaffro: Selected Bibliography: Anthony Ashley Cooper, third Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713).
    54. ^ Jürgen von Stackelberg: Diderot. Artemis, Munich 1983, ISBN 3-7608-1303-8 , pp. 16-17.
    55. ^ Arthur M. Wilson: Diderot the testing years, 1713-1759. Oxford University Press, Oxford 1957.
    56. ^ Jerome Schwartz: Diderot and Montaigne: The "Essais" and the Shaping of Diderot's Humanism. Librairie Droz, Genève 1966, OCLC 859058417 .
    57. Takuya Kobayashi: Chronologie de Jean-Jacques Rousseau-présentation en photos de tous les lieux qu'il a habités et visités. Vie mondaine (1742-1752). online, with pictures.
    58. ^ Dieter Sturma : Jean-Jacques Rousseau. CH Beck, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-406-41949-6 , p. 19.
    60. Raymond Trousson: Diderot. Gallimard, Paris 2007, ISBN 978-2-07-034170-2 , p. 22.
    61. ^ P. Lepape: Denis Diderot. 1994, pp. 28-29.
    62. ^ André Garnier: La sequestration arbitraire de Denis Diderot in January 1743. In: Recherches sur Diderot et sur l'Encyclopédie. 1987, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 46-52.
    63. ^ P. Lepape: Denis Diderot. 1994, p. 39.
    64. ^ Johanna Borek: Denis Diderot. 2000, p. 145.
    65. See the contemporary photography of n ° 6 Rue Mouffetard under Commons.
    66. Chez le sieur Guillotte , exempt du prévost de l'Isle de France, premier étage à droite . Voir: Georges Roth , Diderot: correspondance. Ed. de Minuit, Paris 1955-1970, I, p. 53, Almanach Royal, 1757.
    67. La maréchaussée parisienne de 1667 à 1770 sous les règnes de Louis XIV et Louis XV. Report on the living conditions of Denis Diderot in Paris, (French) online. ( Memento from November 4, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
    68. n ° 3 rue de l'Estrapade . Diderot and his family lived here on the second floor from 1747 to 1754.
    69. The renovated building at n ° 3 rue de l'Estrapade with a plaque.
    70. The Diderot's apartment is now at number 149 boulevard Saint-Germain opposite the rue Saint-Benoît.
    71. Wikisource page for Denis Diderot (French).
    72. The "Rue Taranne" on Turgot's plan of 1734. As a three-dimensional reconstruction.
    73. Map of the "rue Taranne" on the Paris map by Michel-Étienne Turgot (1734) near the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés , Abbaye de Saint-Germain-des-Prés
    74. Richard Friedenthal : Discoverer of the I. Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot. Piper, Munich 1969, p. 345.
    75. Louis Marcel: Un petit probème d'histoire religieuse et d'histoire littéraire. La mort de Diderot d'après des documents inédits (suite). In: Revue d'histoire de l'Église de France. Volume 11, No. 51, 1925, pp. 202-226, here p. 209.
    76. Maurice Tourneux: Diderot Et Catherine II. Slatkine, Genève 1970, p. 517.
    77. ^ Johanna Borek: Denis Diderot. 2000, p. 14.
    78. biography (French).
    79. ^ Thomas Jäger : France - a society of privileges. Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg and New York 2013, ISBN 3-322-81297-9 , p. 164. According to Jäger, the housing privilege can be read off from the rent to be paid . For good locations around 2300 livre and for best locations up to 8000 livre were due. This monthly rent must be set against the property reserves of a simple laborer who at the end of his life owned between 776 and 1700 livres.
    80. Detailed biography of Marie-Angélique Diderots. ( Memento from February 15, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
    81. ^ Genealogy daughter and son-in-law.
    82. ^ Lionel Gallois: Claude et Abel Gautier: hommes d'affaires langrois des Caroillon de Vandeul. In: Recherches sur Diderot et sur l'Encyclopédie. ISSN  0769-0886 , October 1993, No. 15, pp. 113-140.
    83. ^ Genealogy of Simone and Nicolas Caroillon.
    84. It is thanks to Herbert Dieckmann that after the Second World War he made the sensational discovery of the estate of Denis Diderot to his daughter Marie-Angélique de Vandeul Inventaire du Fonds Vandeul and thus laid the foundations for a complete Diderot edition, which he worked on to publish was involved. Dieckmann found this estate of Baron Jacques Le Vavasseur at the Château d'If .
    85. ^ Charles Urbain: Le Frère de Diderot by Le Chanoine Marcel; Une legend: Diderot catéchiste de sa fille by Le Chanoine Marcel. In: Revue d'Histoire littéraire de la France. 22e Année, No. 3/4 (1915), pp. 607-609.
    86. Alice M. Laborde: Diderot et madame de Puisieux ( Stanford French and Italian Studies ). Anma Libri, Saratoga / CA 1985, ISBN 0-915838-54-0 .
    87. ^ Anne-Marie Boileau: Liaison et liaisons dans les lettres de Diderot à Sophie Volland. Champion, Paris 1999, ISBN 2-7453-0047-4 .
    88. La vie de Denis Diderot. (PDF; 3.2 MB).
    89. Alice M. Laborde: Diderot et l'amour. Anma Libri, Saratoga / CA 1979, ISBN 0-915838-22-2 .
    90. ^ Charles Avezac-Lavigne: Diderot et la société du Baron d'Holbach: étude sur le XVIIIe siècle, 1713–1789. E. Leroux, Paris 1875.
    91. Interior view of the Café de la Régence from the beginning of the 19th century, photography ( Memento from November 9, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
    92. Carsten Priebe: A journey through the Enlightenment. BoD, Norderstedt 2007, ISBN 978-3-8334-8614-2 , p. 60.
    93. Markus Jakobi: Chess in the Age of Enlightenment. ( Memento from November 9, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Lecture given on November 1 and 2, 2003 as part of the event “Wiesbaden Hafa offers chess”, with a biography of Philidor until the outbreak of the French Revolution. (PDF; 22 kB).
    94. with Laurent Durand
    95. ^ Johanna Borek: Denis Diderot. 2000, pp. 43-44.
    96. Manfred Geier : Enlightenment. The European project. Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-498-02518-2 , p. 129.
    97. ^ P. Lepape: Denis Diderot. 1994, p. 7.
    98. ^ Bulletin de la Commission historique et archéologique de la Mayenne. Créée par arrêté prefectoral du 17 janvier 1878. Deuxième série. Tome vingt-septième 1911. Laval imprimerie-librairie V e A. Goupil (1911), p. 25, footnote online.
    99. Ph. Blom: Evil Philosophers. 2011, p. 78 ff.
    100. Diderot's daughter, who later became M me de Vandeul, reports:

      “There lived a man born blind with Monsieur de Réaumur ; they led an operation of this man cataract through. The first association should be accepted in the presence of art lovers and writers; my father was also invited. He was very curious to observe the first impressions of light on someone who did not know this and expected a lot from it. The bandage was removed, but the blind man's speeches made it all too clear that he had seen before. The audience reacted angrily; and the mood of some aroused the indiscretion of the other: Someone said that the first visual experience happened before M me Dupré de Saint-Maur. As he went out, my father said that Monsieur de Réaumur would have preferred to look for beautiful eyes without consequences as a witness than men of judgment. This statement was made to M me Dupré de Saint-Maur. She regarded the sentence as an insult to her eyes and her anatomical knowledge. "

      - Marie-Angélique Diderot : Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire de la vie et des ouvrages de M. Diderot par M me de Vandeul, sa fille. In Diderot: Œuvres complètes. Paris 1975, Volume I, p. 21 (Translation by Peter Bexte: Senses in Contradiction - Diderot's Writings on Fine Art. P. 304, online (PDF; 137 kB)).
    101. Heiner Wittmann: Laurent Loty parle de Denis Diderot , June 23, 2013, Part I and Part II (French).
    102. a b entry "Encyclopaedia", in: Encyclopædia Britannica. Eleventh edition, 1911, pp. 369–382, here p. 376.
    103. Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire universel des arts et des sciences, contenant l'explication des termes et des matieres comprises sous ce titre, soit dans les sciences divines et humaines, soit dans les arts liberaux et mechaniques… . Le Breton petit-fils d'Houry, Paris 1745 ( catalog entry in the Bibliothèque nationale de France ).
    104. See John Lough: The Encyclopédie. Slatkine, Geneva 1989, p. 9 ff.
    105. Mi Gyung Kim: Affinity, that elusive dream. A Genealogy of the Chemical Revolution. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge Massachusetts, London England, 2003, ISBN 0-262-11273-6 , pp. 161-218.
    106. Elizabeth A. Williams: A Cultural History of Medical Vitalism in Enlightenment Montpellier (The History of Medicine in Context). Ashgate Publishing, Hants UK 2003, ISBN 0-7546-0881-6 , pp. 119 ff.
    107. Marco Beretta: Rinman, Diderot, and Lavoisier: New Evidence Regarding Guillaume François Rouelle's Private Laboratory and Chemistry Course. In: Nuncius. Volume 26, No. 2, 2011, pp. 355-379, (25), doi: 10.1163 / 182539111X596667
    108. Diderot is still listed as an official member of the Freemasons Association: Denis Diderot Freemason 1 . Website: Internet Lodge ; Lemma: Freim. Personalities . Retrieved August 26, 2010.
    109. ^ Pascale Pellerin: Naigeon: une certaine image de Diderot sous la Révolution. Recherches sur Diderot et sur l'Encyclopédie 29 (2000).
    110. Uwe Schultz : Madame de Pompadour or love in power. CH Beck, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-406-52194-0 , p. 147.
    111. Remnants of the Château du Grand-Val.
    112. Denis Diderot: Letters to Sophie Volland. Philipp Reclam jun., Leipzig 1986, ISBN 3-379-00001-9 , p. 36 f.
    113. ^ Marie-Emmanuelle Bayon Louis (1746-1825). Deborah Hayes: Women musicians of the eighteenth century. September 2010, online. ( Memento from August 15, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
    114. ^ Anton Bemetzrieder: Leçons de Clavecin, et Principes d'Harmonie.
    115. ^ Diderot, (Marie-) Angélique, married. Vandeul. Sophie Drinker Institute, online. ( Memento from February 15, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
    116. ^ Jacques Proust: La bibliothèque de Diderot. In: Revue des sciences humaines. 1958, pp. 257-272.
    117. ^ Anthony R. Strugnell, Larissa L. Albina: Recherches nouvelles sur l'identification des volumes de la bibliothèque de Diderot. In: Recherches sur Diderot et sur l'Encyclopédie. 1990, Vol. 9, No. 9, pp. 41-54.
    118. Louis-Philippe May: Documents nouveaux sur l'Encyclopédie: histoire et sources de l'Encyclopédie d'après le registre de délibérations et des comptes des éditeurs, et un mémoire inédit. In: Revue de synthèse. 15 (1938).
    119. Karin Hlavin-Schulze: "You don't travel to arrive": Travel as a cultural practice. Campus, Frankfurt am Main 1998, ISBN 3-593-36116-7 , pp. 51-52.
    120. H. Denzel de Tirado: Biographical fictions: The paradigm Denis Diderot. 2009, pp. 295-301.
    121. Pierre C. Oustinoff: Notes on Diderot's Fortunes in Russia. In: Diderot Studies. 1, 1949, pp. 121-142.
    122. Aleksei Narõškin: Activities of my leisure and memories of Russia. According to the French of the Russian Kaiserl. The secret councilor, senateurs, real chamberlain and knight Alexei Wassiljewitsch Narischkin. JF Hartknoch, Riga (1794).
    123. Raymond Trousson: Diderot. Gallimard, Paris 2007, ISBN 978-2-07-034170-2 , p. 260.
    124. ^ France Marchal: Modernité de la pensée politique de Diderot. In: Actualité de Diderot: actes du forum 2000 à Langres. Forum Diderot, Langres 2002, pp. 89-103.
    125. Je. I. Krasnova: Famous guests of Saint Petersburg: Denis Diderot. Story of a search. In: History of Petersburg. 3/2005, pp. 68-71. (PDF; 221 kB) The author comes to the conclusion that Diderot lived with Alexei Wassiljewitsch Naryschkin and his brother Semyon, in a house of her father Wassili Wassiljewitsch.
    126. ^ Inna Gorbatov: Le voyage de Diderot en Russie. Études littéraires, vol. 38, nos. 2-3, 2007, pp. 215-229. (PDF; 411 kB).
    127. Сергей Карп: Дидро, А.В. Нарышкин и цивилизация России. ГИИМ: Доклады по истории XVIII века - DHI Moscow: Lectures on the 18th Century No. 1 (2009).
    128. Volker Sellin : Violence and Legitimacy: The European Monarchy in the Age of Revolutions. Oldenbourg, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-486-70705-2 , pp. 145 f.
    129. Edoardo Tortarolo: Catherine II and the European Enlightenment. Public opinion and arcana imperil. In: Sonja Asal, Johannes Rohbeck (Hrsg.): Enlightenment and Enlightenment Criticism in France. Self-interpretations of the 18th century in the mirror of contemporaries. Berlin 2003, p. 126.
    130. ^ Emil Unger: Diderot's pedagogy based on his psychology and ethics. (PDF; 6.5 MB) Gustav Fock, Leipzig 1903.
    131. ^ Helmut Reinalter , Harm Klueting : Enlightened absolutism in European comparison. Böhlau, Vienna / Cologne / Weimar 2002, ISBN 3-205-99426-4 , p. 27.
    132. ^ Walter Rüegg : History of the University in Europe. Volume 2, From the Reformation to the French Revolution 1500–1800. CH Beck, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-406-36953-7 , p. 66.
    133. H. Denzel de Tirado: Biographical fictions: The paradigm Denis Diderot. 2009, pp. 307-308.
    134. Jacques Proust: La grammaire russe de diderot. Rev. d'hist. suffered. de la France 1954, pp. 329-331.
    135. ^ Inna Gorbatov: Catherine the Great and the French Philosophers of the Enlightenment: Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot and Grimm. Academic Press, Waltham MA 2005, ISBN 1-933146-03-6 , p. 179.
    136. Ph. Blom: Evil Philosophers. 2011, p. 306 ff.
    137. ^ Georges Viard: Sucy-en-Brie Denis Diderot au Grandval. (Excerpt from text).
    138. ^ Natale G. De Santo, Carmela Bisaccia, Massimo Cirillo, Gabriel Richet: Medicine in the Encyclopédie (1751-1780) of Diderot and d'Alembert. (PDF; 281 kB) Società Italiana di Nefrologia, 2011, ISSN  1121-8428 .
    139. Denis Diderot, Marie Angélique de Vandeul: Diderot de Mémoires, correspondance et ouvrages inédits de Diderot: Lettres à Mademoiselle Voland, de 1759 à 1774 [suite] Voyage à Bourbonne et à Langres, 1770. Correspondance avec Falconet; Lettres sur le désir de transmettre son nom à la postérité. Paulin, 1831.
    140. ^ Herbert Dieckmann: The autopsy report on Diderot. In: Isis. 41 (125-126), December 1950, pp. 289-290.
    141. Pierre Lepape: Denis Diderot. A biography. Campus, Frankfurt am Main 1994, ISBN 3-593-35150-1 , p. 196.
    142. Brunhilde Wehinger (ed.): Spirit and power of Frederick the Great in the context of European cultural history. Akademie Verlag, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-05-004069-6 , p. 250 f.
    143. ^ Leopold Damrosch: Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Restless Genius. Houghton Mifflin, Boston 2007, ISBN 978-0-618-87202-2 , p. 160.
    144. Julia Luisa Abramson: Learning from Lying: The Paradoxes of Literary Mystification: Paradoxes of the Literary Mystification. University of Delaware Press, Newark DE 2005, ISBN 0-87413-900-7 , p. 157, footnote 18.
    145. Michael Soëtard: Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Life and work. CH Beck, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-406-63197-9 , pp. 43-44.
    146. Ph. Blom: Evil Philosophers. 2011, p. 278 ff.
    147. Heidi Denzel de Tirado: Biographical fictions: The paradigm Denis Diderot in an intercultural comparison (1765-2005). Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2009, p. 344. The literary historians Jean Varloot and René Pomeau accept a meeting of the two on this occasion. Jean Fabre and Paul Vernière deny it.
    148. Born in Swedish Pomerania , Baron Ulrich von Thun was prepared for a diplomatic career in Strasbourg by Johann Daniel Schöpflin . After secret missions for Hesse-Darmstadt and Saxony-Gotha, he was again active in Paris from 1756 to 1788 as ministre plénipotentiaire Württemberg. See the Herzoglich-Wirtembergisches address book: to the year 1786: together with e. Annex d. freyen imperial knighthood in Swabia. Bürkhisch, 1786, p. 12.
    149. ^ Winfried Wolf: Friedrich Melchior Grimm, an enlightener from Regensburg: straw chair and carriage - a life between Paris and Saint Petersburg. epubli, Berlin 2015, ISBN 3-7375-5562-1 .
    150. ^ Joseph Royall Smiley: Diderot's Relations with Grimm. University of Illinois Press, Urbana IL 1950.
    151. ^ Mary Trouille: La Femme Mal Mariée: M me d'Epinay's Challenge to Julie and Emile. Eighteenth-Century Life 20.1 (1996) 42-66, 1996 The Johns Hopkins University Press, online.
    152. ^ Georg Hans Neuweg: Skill and tacit knowledge. Waxmann Verlag, Münster 2001, ISBN 978-3-8309-5753-9 , p. 401
    153. Werner Rammert: Two paradoxes of a knowledge policy: The linking of heterogeneous and the utilization of tacit knowledge. Technical University Technology Studies, Working Papers TUTS-WP-8-2002, Institute for Sociology, p. 14 [1]
    154. Jörg Dinkelaker, Jochen Kade: Knowledge Transfer and Appropriation Orientation - Answers in Adult Education / Continuing Education to the Social Change in Dealing with Knowledge and Not-Knowledge. REPORT 2/2011 (34th year), p. 25 [2]
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    156. Joachim Renn: Knowledge and Explication - On the cognitive claim to validity of the »cultures« In Friedrich Jaeger, Burkhard Liebsch, Jörn Rüsen, Jürgen Straub (eds.): Handbuch der Kulturwissenschaften: Special edition in 3 volumes. Springer-Verlag, Berlin / Heidelberg / New York 2016, ISBN 978-3-476-00631-8 , p. 244
    157. wega14, in: Neural Network .
    158. Implicit knowledge is the "knowledge" that the bearer is not aware of and that cannot be passed on in linguistic form, or only with difficulty. Implicit knowledge eludes formal linguistic expression. This form of knowledge is based on experiences , memories and convictions and is also shaped by personal value systems. If the attempt is made to transform the implicit knowledge into explicit knowledge, the process of externalization is described in terms of knowledge modeling .
    159. ^ Jacques Proust: Diderot et l'Encyclopédie. Albin Michel, Paris 1995, ISBN 2-226-07862-2 .
    160. ^ Robert Darnton : The Business of Enlightenment: Publishing History of the Encyclopédie 1775-1800. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA 1987, ISBN 0-674-08786-0 .
    161. Diderot's Encyclopedia. Die Bildtafeln 1762–1777, Volume 1, Augsburg 1995, ISBN 3-89604-001-4 , p. IX.
    162. compare working group , but also Johann Heinrich Zedler Great Complete Universal Lexicon of All Sciences and Arts (1732–1754).
    163. Hannelore Gärtner describes the "Bayle's method" and its typical arrangement of the articles:

      “The key word is initially followed by factual information, usually with a definition ; Capital letters inserted in brackets at the appropriate places refer to the following part, which explains, critically comments, proves or disproves individual passages of the first part. In this text, characters, Latin or Greek letters draw attention to the marginal notes that contain references, quotations and references to other articles. "

      - Hannelore Gärtner : On the history of the lexicography of the Encyclopédie (1976) In Hans-Joachim Diesner , Günter Gurst: Lexica yesterday and today. Leipzig 1976, pp. 98-99
    164. Werner Schneiders: The Age of Enlightenment. CH Beck, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-406-44796-9 , p. 67.
    165. ^ P. Lepape: Denis Diderot. 1994, pp. 112-113.
    166. Michèle Duchet: Diderot et l'encyclopédie. Annales. Économies, Sociétés, Civilizations. Born in 1964, Volume 19, No. 5, pp. 953-965.
    167. ^ P. Lepape: Denis Diderot. 1994, p. 114.
    168. K.-E. Kurrer : The History of the Theory of Structures. Searching for Equilibrium . Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-433-03229-9 , pp. 161-195.
    169. ^ Johanna Borek: Denis Diderot. 2000, pp. 53-54.
    170. Encyclopédie de Diderot et d'Alembert.
    171. ^ P. Lepape: Denis Diderot. 1994, p. 134.
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    173. ^ Johanna Borek: Denis Diderot. Rowohlt-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Reinbek near Hamburg 2000, ISBN 3-499-50447-2 , p. 58.
    174. Pierre Lepape: Denis Diderot. A biography. Campus-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main u. a. 1994, ISBN 3-593-35150-1 , p. 198.
    175. ^ Robert Darnton: Shining Business. The spread of Diderot's Encyclopedia or: How to Sell Knowledge at a Profit. 1993, p. 22.
    176. Philipp Blom: The reasonable monster. 2005, p. 166.
    177. Ulrike Spindler: 1. The Encyclopédie by Diderot and d'Alembert. From: Madame de Pompadour - The Encyclopédie. In:, online (publication history, accessed December 7, 2013.)
    178. Denis Diderot: Encyclopedia. Philosophical and political texts from the ›Encyclopédie‹ as well as the prospectus and announcement of the last volumes. DTV, Munich 1969, p. 29.
    179. ^ Jürgen von Stackelberg: Diderot. Artemis, Munich 1983, ISBN 3-7608-1303-8 , p. 35.
    180. ^ P. Lepape: Denis Diderot. 1994, p. 225.
    181. ^ Voltaire: Correspondance générale. Perronneau, 1821, volume 12.
    182. R. Darnton: Shining Business. 1993, p. 27.
    183. Ph. Blom: The reasonable monster. 2005, p. 122.
    184. Philip Nicholas Furbank: Diderot. A critical biography. Secker & Warburg, London 1992, ISBN 0-436-16853-7 , p. 474. Ph. N. Furbank gives some explanations about the currency situation in Diderot's time. 1 Louis d'or was equivalent to 24 livres, 1 sou was one twentieth livre, 1 liard was equivalent to a quarter of a sou. An average lunch menu, a so-called table d'hôte, cost 1 livre; the price for a bread was between 2 and 12 sous. A cup of café au lait at a sidewalk cafe 2 sous. The usual seat in the Comédie française was for 1 livre and in the Opéra for 2 livre, 8 sous. The trip by stagecoach from Bordeaux to Paris 72 livre.
    185. Frankwalt Möhren: The material bibliography of the Encyclopédie : Originals and pirated prints. In: D. Harth, M. Raether: Denis Diderot or the ambivalence of the Enlightenment, pp. 63–89.
    186. Ph N. Furbank. Diderot. A critical biography. 1992, pp. 474-475.
    187. Ph. Blom: The reasonable monster. 2005, pp. 243-244.
    188. A. Selg: The world of the Encyclopédie. 2001, p. 476.
    189. published in Amsterdam by Zacharie Chatelain.
    190. J. Schlobach: Denis Diderot. 1992.
    191. Wikisource Pensées sur l'interprétation de la nature.
    192. Denis Diderot: On the interpretation of nature. Preface by Eckart Richter. Philipp Reclam jun., Leipzig 1967, pp. 5-24.
    193. Silvio Vietta : European cultural history: An introduction. W. Fink, Paderborn 2007, ISBN 978-3-8252-8346-9 , p. 369.
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    197. Denis Diderot: On the interpretation of nature. Philipp Reclam jun., Leipzig 1967, p. 38.
    198. Denis Diderot: On the interpretation of nature. Philipp Reclam jun., Leipzig 1967, pp. 42, 41, 46 ff.
    199. Michaël Hayat: L'enracinement biologique de la pensée: de Diderot aux sciences contemporaines Auteur. In: Le philosophoire. 3/2003 (n ° 21), pp. 41-64, online p. 19.
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    205. The noun “sensibilitas” describes a word field in the Latin language that describes the ability to feel with the help of the senses. The derived adjective “sensibilis” can be used in a passive noticeable but also in an active sentient way .
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    212. According to other views, probably in the period from 1771 to 1774, see Isabella von Treskow: French Enlightenment and Socialist Reality. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 1996, ISBN 3-8260-1227-5 , p. 44 ff.
    213. Lecture Series European Novels, University of Kiel ( Memento from November 4, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 27 kB).
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    221. Joachim Gessinger, Wolfert von Rahden: Theories of the origin of language. Volumes 1 and 2, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 1989, ISBN 3-11-010189-0 , pp. 160-161.
    222. Stéphane Lojkine: La Lettre sur les sourds, aux origines de la pensée: le silence, le cri, l'image ~ La question des inversions.
    223. ^ Ulrich Hoinkes: Philosophy and grammar in the French Enlightenment. Studies on the history of language theory and French grammarography in the 18th century in France. Study of Linguistics Supplement 13th Nodus publication, Münster 1991, ISBN 3-89323-113-7 , p. 12 ff., 110.
    224. ^ Daniel Droixhe, Gerda Hassler: Aspects of the language origin problem in France in the second half of the 18th century. P. 326 In Joachim Gessinger, Wolfert von Rahden: Theories of the origin of language. 1, volumes 1–2 Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1989, ISBN 3-11-010189-0 .
    225. Peter Eugen Stähli: Gestus and Word. Linguistic theory and literary practice with Diderot; with introductory text analyzes on the theory of language by Condillac and Rousseau. Zurich, University, dissertation 1986.
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    227. ^ William Molyneux: "Letter to John Locke", 7 July 1688. In: ES de Beer (ed.): The Correspondence of John Locke. 9 volumes, Clarendon Press, Oxford 1978, Volume 3, No. 1064.
      Dublin July. 7. 88
      A Problem Proposed to the Author of the Essai Philosophique concernant L'Entendement
      A. Man, being born blind, and having a Globe and a Cube, nigh of the same bignes, Committed into his Hands, and being taught or Told, which is Called the Globe, and which the Cube, so as easily to distinguish them by his touch or feeling; Then both being taken from Him, and Laid on a Table, Let us Suppose his Sight Restored to Him; Whether he Could, by his sight, and before he touch them, know which is the Globe and which the Cube? Or Whether he Could know by his Sight, before he stretch'd out his Hand, whether he Could not Reach them, tho they were Removed 20 or 1000 feet from Him?
      If the Learned and Ingenious Author of the Forementiond Treatise think this Problem Worth his Consideration and Answer, He may at any time Direct it to One that Much Esteems him, and is,
      His Humble Servant
      William Molyneux
      High Ormonds Gate in Dublin. Ireland.
    228. U. Winter: The materialism in Diderot. 1972, p. 251.
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    233. They were first printed in 1812/13 in the 16-volume Paris edition - Correspondance littéraire, philosophique, critique addressée à un Souverain d'Allemagne par Grimm et Diderot .
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    235. Quoted from Werner Busch : The sentimental picture: The crisis of art in the 18th century and the birth of modernity. CH Beck, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-406-42279-9 , pp. 239-240.
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    252. ^ John Ramsay Allardyce Nicoll, A History of Late Eighteenth-Century Drama, 1750-1800. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1927.
    253. Two plays by Denis Diderot. ( Memento of November 12, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 464 kB) Translated and with an introduction by Kiki Gounaridou and John Hellweg, pp. 1–5.
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    256. ^ Frederick Burwick: Illusion and the Drama: Critical Theory of the Enlightenment and Romantic Era. Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991, ISBN 0-271-02623-5 , p. 44.
    257. Richard Weihe: The paradox of the mask: history of a form. Wilhelm Fink, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-7705-3914-1 , p. 169.
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    259. Empathize, show off and alienate? On the method of acting.  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 1.2 MB) Diploma thesis. Cologne 2010, pp. 4–8. @1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
    260. Dinah Politiki: “Working with Living Material”. Theater-pedagogical relevance of professional acting methods for people and actors with special consideration of Stanislawski and Strasberg. ( Memento from November 12, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 636 kB) Theater teacher BUT at the Theaterwerkstatt Heidelberg, October 2004.
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    262. ^ Peter Heßelmann: Purified theater? Dramaturgy and Schaubühne in the game of German-language theater periodics of the 18th century. Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 2002, ISBN 3-465-03216-0 , p. 351.
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    264. Finja Christin Wrocklage: The Paradox of Truthfulness: The role of the actor in Diderot and Brecht. Grin, Norderstedt 2009, ISBN 978-3-640-42187-9 .
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    271. Stefan Huth: Opera feuds and opera reforms: aesthetic controversies in 18th century Paris. Grin, Norderstedt 2009, ISBN 978-3-640-25086-8 , pp. 12-18.
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    273. Christiane Landgrebe: Back to nature? the wild life of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Beltz, Weinheim / Basel 2012, ISBN 978-3-407-22928-1 , p. 111.
    274. Christian Berger: “Harmonie” and “mélodie”. A musical aesthetic controversy in 18th century France and its impact on 19th century composition. In: Axel Beer , Laurenz Lütteken (ed.): Festschrift Klaus Hortschansky for his 60th birthday. Schneider, Tutzing 1995, pp. 275-288. At: , online (PDF; 0.3 MB).
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    284. a b Entretien entre d'Alembert et Diderot. (PDF; 96 kB) Collection “Les auteur (e) s classiques” Denis Diderot: 1713–1784. Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, p. 5.
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    286. Martin Mahner , Mario Bunge : Philosophical foundations of biology. Springer, Berlin / Heidelberg / New York 2000, ISBN 3-540-67649-X , pp. 195-198.
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    290. The idea of ​​“atoms” and “molecules” in the 18th century was different from that of contemporary conceptions, so it cannot be completely matched with our terms. Projecting the current term back into the 18th century shows that Diderot's “molecule” or “atom” is close to Robert Boyle's corpuscle hypotheses . Boyle developed an idea that there is a multitude of very small particles that are combined in different ways and that could form shapes that he called corpuscles.
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    303. Arthur M. Wilson: An Unpublished Letter of Diderot to du Pont de Nemours (December 9, 1775). In: The Modern Language Review. Volume 58, No. 2, April 1963, pp. 222-225. Published by: Modern Humanities Research Association.
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    305. Dialogues on le commerce des blés. Fayard, Paris 1984, ISBN 2-213-01479-5 . (German translation: Franz Blei (Hrsg.): Galiani's dialogues about the grain trade 1770. with a biography of Galiani. Wyss, Bern 1895.)
    306. Helmut Reinalter (ed.): Lexicon on Enlightened Absolutism in Europe: Rulers - Thinkers - Subject Terms. Uni-Taschenbücher (Utb) 2006, ISBN 3-8252-8316-X , p. 196.
    307. Dennis C. Rasmussen: Burning Laws and Strangling Kings? Voltaire and Diderot on the Perils of Rationalism in Politics. ( Memento from December 10, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) In: The Review of Politics. 73 (2011), pp. 77-104 doi: 10.1017 / S0034670510000872 (PDF; 177 kB).
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    309. ^ Adrienne D. Hytier: Le philosophe et la despote: histoire d'une inimitié. In: Otis Fellows (Ed.): Diderot Studies VI. Librairie Droz, Genève 1964, p. 67.
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    312. ^ Corina Petersilka: The bilingualism of Frederick the Great: A linguistic portrait. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-11-092904-X , p. 126.
    313. Brunhilde Wehinger, Günther Lottes : Friedrich the Great as a reader. Oldenbourg Akademieverlag, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-05-004922-9 , p. 34 f.
    314. Hans-Jürgen Lüsebrink: French almanac culture in the German-speaking area: (1700–1815) genre structures, comparative aspects, forms of discourse. V&R unipress, Göttingen 2013, ISBN 978-3-89971-892-8 , p. 52.
    315. Abbé Raynal: A Philosophical and Political History of the Settlements and Trade of the Europeans in the East and West Indies. 1798. In: World Digital Library . (English translation of the history of both India. )
    316. ^ Johanna Borek: Denis Diderot. 2000, p. 129 f.
    317. Helmut Holzhey , Vilem Mudroch, Friedrich Ueberweg , Johannes Rohbeck : Outline of the history of philosophy: The philosophy of the 18th century. 2 half floors. Schwabe, Basel 2008, ISBN 978-3-7965-2445-5 , pp. 542-544.
    318. Hans Hinterhäuser: Utopia and Reality in Diderot. Studies on the “Supplément au voyade de Bougainville”. Carl Winter Universitätsverlag, Heidelberg 5th Issue Heidelberg Research 1975.
    319. Martin d'Idler: The modernization of utopia: the change of the new man in the political utopia of the modern age. LIT, Münster 2007, ISBN 978-3-8258-0729-0 , pp. 126-133.
    320. ^ Antoine Arnauld: Première Apologie pour M. Jansénius. 1644, In: Œuvres. Volume 16, Paris 1778 (ND Brussels 1967), p. 185.
    321. ^ Blaise Pascal: Ecrits sur la grâce. In: œuvres. Volume 11, Paris 1914, pp. 135 ff.
    322. Ulrike Müßig : The European Constitutional Discussion of the 18th Century. Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2008, ISBN 978-3-16-149796-4 , p. 39.
    323. Stefanie Zaun, Daniela Watzke, Jörn Steigerwald: Imagination and Sexuality: Pathologies of the imagination in the medical discourse of the early modern period. Vittorio Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 2004, ISBN 3-465-03296-9 .
    324. Angelika Pumberger: Eternally feminine - eternally masculine. The medical-philosophical gender discourse of the French Late Enlightenment with Denis Diderot and Pierre Roussel. Vienna 2010 (PDF; 3.7 MB).
    325. ^ Felicia Gordon: Performing Citizenship: Marie-Madeleine Jodin Enacting Diderot's and Rousseau's Dramatic and Ethical Theories. In: Karen Green; Lisa Curtis-Wendlandt; Paul Gibbard (Ed.): Political Ideas of Enlightenment Women: Virtue and Citizenship. Ashgate Publishing, 2014, ISBN 978-1-4724-0955-3 , pp. 13 f.
    326. ^ Anne Masseran: 1998 La courtisane contre l'expérimentatrice. Les images de la science dans les œuvres de Diderot. In: Alliage. numéro 37-38, online.
    327. Birgit Trummeter: The powerlessness. Staging a phenomenon of corporeality in 18th century French literature. Dissertation. University of Mannheim, 1999, p. 81 f. (PDF; 868 kB).
    328. Ernst Feil: Religio. Volume 4: The history of a modern basic concept in the 18th and early 19th centuries. (= Research on church and dogma history. Volume 91). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2012, ISBN 978-3-525-55199-8 , pp. 342-351.
    329. Thomas von Schwalbach: From Deism to Atheism. On the question of a conversion in Denis Diderot's early writings. Bachelor thesis, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel Philosophical Faculty, Grin Verlag, Munich 2013, ISBN 978-3-656-87696-0 .
    330. Jan Rohls: Protestant theology of the modern age: The requirements and the 19th century. Volume 1, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 1997, ISBN 3-16-146660-8 , p. 177 f.
    331. Klaus Mollenhauer: Diderot and Chardin - on the theory of plasticity in the Enlightenment. Pedagogical Correspondence (1988) 4, pp. 33-46.
    332. Emanuel Rádl: History of biological theories in the modern age. Reprint Forgotten Books. Wilhelm Engelmann, Leipzig 1915, p. 183 f.
    333. ^ Johann Heinrich Samuel Formey: La France littéraire ou dictionnaire des auteurs français vivans, corrigé et augmenté par M. Formey. Haude et Spener, Berlin 1757, p. 326
    334. ^ Maurice Tourneux : Diderot et Catherine II. C. Lévy, Paris 1899 [4]
    335. Alberto Saviello: Imaginations des Islam: Pictorial representations of the prophet Mohammed in Western European book printing up to the 19th century. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2015, ISBN 3-11-031166-6 , pp. 203 f
    336. ^ Letter to Sophie Volland , Oct. 30, 1759: "Eh bien! Philosophy, où en êtes-vous de votre besogne? - J'en suis aux Arabes et aux Sarrasins. - À Mahomet, le meilleur ami des femmes? - Oui, et le plus grand ennemi de la raison. - Voilà une impertinent remarque. - Madame, ce n'est point une remarque, c'est un fait. - Autre sottise; ces messieurs sont montés sur le ton gallant. ” fr.wikisource
    337. “SARRASINS ou ARABES, philosophy des: Le saint prophète ne savait ni lire ni écrire: de-là la haine des premiers musulmans contre toute espèce de connaissance; le mépris qui s'en est perpétué chez leurs successeurs; et la plus longue durée garantie aux mensonges religieux dont ils sont entêtés. Mahomet fut si convaincu de l'incompatibilité de la Philosophie et de la Religion, qu'il décerna peine de mort contre celui qui s'appliquerait aux arts libéraux: c'est le même pressentiment dans tous les temps et chez tous les peuples, qui a fait hasarder de décrier la raison. Le peu de lumière qui restait s'affaiblit au milieu du tumulte des armes, et s'éteignit au sein de la volupté; l'alcoran fut le seul livre; on brûla les autres, ou parce qu'ils étaient superflus s'ils ne contenaient que ce qui est dans l'alcoran, ou parce qu'ils étaient pernicieux, s'ils contenaient quelque chose qui n'y fût pas. Ce fut le raisonnement d'après lequel un des généraux sarrazins fit chauffer pendant six mois les bains publics avec les précieux manuscrits de la bibliothèque d'Alexandrie. On peut regarder Mahomet comme le plus grand ennemi que la raison humaine ait eu. Il y avait un siècle que sa religion était établie, et que ce furieux imposteur n'était plus, lorsqu'on entendait des hommes remplis de son esprit s'écrier que Dieu punirait le calife Almamon al-Ma'mūn , seventh Abbasid caliph 813–833, pour avoir appelé les sciences dans ses États; au détriment de la sainte ignorance des fidèles croyants. ” Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire raisonné des Sciences, des Arts et des Métiers . Volume 14 (1765), Samuel Faulche et Compagnie, Neufchastel 1765, p. 664.
    338. Denis Diderot: Histoire générale des dogmes et opinions philosophiques. Depuis les plus anciens temps jusqu'à nos jours. Tirée du Dictionnaire encyclopédique, des arts & des sciences. Volume 3. London 1769. p. 128. Often misquoted as: "Islam is the enemy of reason."
    339. the term “matter” or “molecule” has a different meaning for Diderot than in the physico-chemical terminology of our time.
    340. Aram Vartanian: The Enigma of Diderot's “Eléments de physiologie”. Diderot Studies Vol. 10, Librairie Droz, Genève 1968, pp. 285-301.
    341. Gerhard Rudolph: Diderot's elements of physiology. In: Gesnerus. Volume 24, 1967, pp. 24-45.
    342. Helmar Schramm, Ludger Schwarte , Jan Lazardzig (eds.): Traces of the avant-garde: Theatrum anatomicum. Early modern times and modern times in a cultural comparison. (Theatrum Scientiarum Volume 5). De Gruyter, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-11-187245-2 , p. 1.
    343. ^ Andrew Cunningham, The Anatomist Anatomis'd: An Experimental Discipline in Enlightenment Europe. Ashgate Publishing, Farnham 2010, ISBN 978-0-7546-6338-6 , pp. 22-23.
    344. ^ Anne C. Vila: Enlightenment and Pathology: Sensibility in the Literature and Medicine of Eighteenth-Century France. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore MD 1997, ISBN 0-8018-5809-7 , p. 81.
    345. Biographical data on Jacques Marie Charles Eugène baron Le Vavasseur.
    346. Michèle Gauthier: Fund Diderot-Caroillon de Vandeul. Inventory. In: Recherches sur Diderot et sur l'Encyclopédie. Year 1990, Volume 9, No. 9, pp. 171–179.
    347. Helmut Holzhey, Vilem Mudroch, Friedrich Ueberweg, Johannes Rohbeck: Outline of the history of philosophy: The philosophy of the 18th century. 2 half floors. Schwabe, Basel 2008, ISBN 978-3-7965-2445-5 , p. 545.
    348. D. Brewer: The Discourse of Enlightenment. 2008, p. 206.
    349. Biography universelle ancienne et moderne.
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    352. Nikolas Immer, Olaf Müller: Lessing's Diderot "sweeter tears" for the purification of national tastes. Pp. 147-163 ( PDF ).
    353. J. Schlobach: Denis Diderot. 1992, p. 2.
    354. The theater of Mr. Diderot translated by Lessing, 1760, therein a. a. Le fils naturel (1757) and Le père de famille (1758); Strange example of female vengeance . Drawn from a manuscript by the late Diderot, Thalia, 1, 1785 translated by Schiller ( full text on Wikisource ).
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    358. Adam Bžoch: German Literature in the Age of Enlightenment. Catholic University in Ružomberok Press, Ružomberok, Verbum 2011, ISBN 978-80-8084-701-2 .
    359. Th. C. Van Stockum: Lessing and Diderot. Neophilologus 1955, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp. 191-202.
    360. Michael Zaremba : Johann Gottfried Herder: Preacher of Humanity. Böhlau, Vienna / Cologne / Weimar 2002, ISBN 3-412-03402-9 , pp. 92–94.
    361. ^ Karl-Gustav Gerold: Herder and Diderot. Moritz Diesterweg, Frankfurt am Main 1941, pp. 17–33.
    362. Rafael Köhler: Nature and Spirit. Franz Steiner, Stuttgart 1996, ISBN 3-515-06818-X , p. 48 ff.
    363. ^ Gero von Wilpert : Goethe-Lexikon (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 407). Kröner, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 3-520-40701-9 , p. 220.
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    365. Johann Wolfgang Goethe: Commemorative Edition. Volume 20, Zurich 1950, p. 291.
    366. ^ Friedrich Wilhelm Riemer (ed.): Correspondence between Goethe and Zelter in the years 1796 to 1832. Sixth part, the years 1830 July to 1832. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1834, p. 161.
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    372. J. Baedeker, Iserlohn 1866, ISBN 3-518-07670-1 , p. 327. Reprint in two volumes: Suhrkamp (stw 70), Frankfurt am Main 1974.
    373. ^ The correspondence between F. Engels and K. Marx. Stuttgart, 1913 and MEGA , Berlin, 1931.
    374. "Confession." Zalt-Bommel, April 1, 1865.
    375. ^ Matthias Käther: About Marx's methods of reception. In: UTOPIE Kreativ. H. 162 (April 2004), pp. 293-300. (PDF; 63 kB).
    376. MEW 21, p. 282.
    377. Ludwig Feuerbach and the outcome of classical German philosophy. In: MEW 21, pp. 259-307.
    378. Wolfgang Engler: Lie as a principle. Sincerity in Capitalism. Structure, Berlin 2010, p. 71.
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    382. Juan A. Calaírava Escobar: Diderot en España: una revisión crítica. In: Azafea. 1 (1985) pp. 415-421. (PDF; 598 kB).
    383. ^ Arturo Pérez-Reverte : Hombres buenos. Alfaguara, Barcelona 2015, ISBN 978-84-204-0324-3 .
    384. ^ Klaus Große Kracht: Between Berlin and Paris: Bernhard Groethuysen (1880-1946) An intellectual biography. Max Niemeyer, Tübingen 2002, ISBN 3-484-35091-1 .
    385. ^ Bernard Groethuysen: La pensée de Diderot. In: La Grande Revue n ° 82 (1913), pp. 322-341. Quoted from J. Schlobach: Denis Diderot, p. 39.
    386. Hans Magnus Enzensberger: Diderot's shadow. Conversations, scenes, essays. Translated, edited and invented by Hans Magnus Enzensberger. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1994, ISBN 3-518-40632-9 .
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    388. ^ On the history of the performance : First performance at the Städtische Bühnen Freiburg on September 25, 1993; Directed by Hans Jakob Ammann (* 1942).
    389. Denis Diderot in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature of the IAU (WGPSN) / USGS
    390. Denis Diderot at the IAU Minor Planet Center (English)
    391. ^ Digitized from p. 1–3 (title, content, portrait) and p. 14–61 (foray through life and work).
    392. ^ Texts on Jean de La Fontaine , Molière , Jean de La Bruyère , Alain-René Lesage , Madame de Staël , Pierre-Jean de Béranger , Victor Hugo and Honoré de Balzac . French text about DD see new sentence ; or as a scan p. 222–239. of the Revue de Paris, Volume 27, 1831.