Paul-Henri Thiry, Baron d'Holbach (1723–89) was a French philosopher during the Enlightenment. He was an author, and one of the Encyclopedists (French Encyclopédie) who advocated naturalistic and materialistic ideas.
His most well known work was Système de la nature (The System of Nature) published in 1770, which was first published under the name of Jean-Baptiste de Mirabaud (a former secretary of the Académie française who had died about ten years previously).
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on Paul-Henri Thiry
See also: French atheism
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy declares concerning Paul-Henri Thiry:
|“||Paul-Henri Thiry, Baron d'Holbach was a philosopher, translator, and prominent social figure of the French Enlightenment. In his philosophical writings Holbach developed a deterministic and materialistic metaphysics which grounded his polemics against organized religion and his utilitarian ethical and political theory. As a translator, Holbach made significant contributions to the European Enlightenment in science and religion. He translated German works on chemistry and geology into French, summarizing many of the German advances in these areas in his entries in Diderot's Encyclopedia. Holbach also translated important English works on religion and political philosophy into French. Holbach remains best known, however, for his role in Parisian society. The close circle of intellectuals that Holbach hosted and, in various ways, sponsored produced the Encyclopedia and a number of revisionary religious, ethical, and political works that contributed to the ideological basis for the French Revolution. Despite the radical views of many members of his coterie, however, Holbach's broader visiting guest list included many of the most prominent intellectual and political figures in Europe. His salon, then, was at once a shelter for radical thought and a hub of mainstream culture.||”|
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says concerning the work of Paul-Henri Thiry/Baron d'Holbach:
|“||Although indeed Holbach devotes the entire second volume of Système de la nature and all of Le Bon Sens to the defense of atheism and the criticism of particular claims about God, his views do not hold great philosophical interest. They emphasize well worn topics such as the problem of evil, the impossibility of discussing intelligibly what is unknowable, the suspect psychological origins of religious belief, and the confusion of traditional descriptions of God in terms that are simply the negation of genuine descriptive terms: for example, to say that God is infinite is just to deny that God is finite. None of these arguments is unique to Holbach or especially well presented by him.||”|