Death of French Philosopher Pierre Bayle Hot

Death of French Philosopher Pierre Bayle

Pierre Bayle

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French philosopher Pierre Bayle dies in Rotterdam. The most influential skeptic of the late 17th century, Bayle's monumental work Dictionnaire historique et critique (Historical and Critical Dictionary, 1697) has been a strong influence on the development of skeptical thinking, especially that of David Hume.

His work has attracted significant interest as well as widespread condemnation. The French Catholic Church banned his Dictionary, and the French Reformed church demanded that he revise or explain a variety of his statements on matters like the good moral character of atheists, tolerance for Jews, and more. Of particular concern to church leaders, however, was his arguments regarding the problem of evil and the independence of morality from religion.

Pierre Bayle's chief interest was the idea that we should be skeptical of all claims to human knowledge. His critiques of religious claims were especially pointed, and he often demonstrated contradictions between common theological beliefs and self-evident axioms of reason.

In the end, he declared Christianity to be fundamentally irrational and, indeed, that all human endeavor is irrational. Therefore, the only way to believe anything is through faith.


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