Talk:The System of Nature

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random comments[edit]

"It makes a critical distinction between mythology as a more or less benign way of bringing law ordered thought on society, nature and their powers to the masses and theology." This obviously needs to be fixed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 128.198.168.81 (talk) 03:54, 21 April 2013 (UTC)

"... These are surely a minority, and no doubt another reason why d'Holbach's philosophy is not often discussed today is that its main points are already widely but tacitly accepted, at least among scientists." is a rather presumptive statement for an encyclopedic article, isn't it? -Would saying "these are a minority" would have been any better?

This article is suspiciously well-written. A google search did not reveal any obvious plagiarism, but the completeness and professionalism of the original version of this article makes me wonder. johnpseudo 20:19, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

This article really needs to be broken into subheadings but I really can't follow a word it's saying! Perhaps it's a case of the emperor's new clothes. SuzanneKn 17:27, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

Edit Warring by Palthrow[edit]

You can't just declare content to be nonsense, please state your objections in principle to the material in question, its basis in the given citations, etc. Otherwise it will be necessary to take this to arbitration. Lycurgus (talk) 00:35, 24 April 2009 (UTC)

Actually, didn't mean to jump the gun, a number of stages before arbitration. If no argument is advanced for the deletion, will remove the tag. If your argument is simply that you find the material to be nonsense, we will have to resolve the matter by involving other editors, perhaps from the French wiki or at least a native speaker. Lycurgus (talk) 00:48, 24 April 2009 (UTC)
I am a student of d'Holbach's works: I found the passage in question hopelessly vague and unclear, and in any case peripheral to the arguments of the book. The reference supporting this statement is Richardson's (very short) introduction to the Echo library reprint of the System of Nature -- Richardson is not an expert on d'Holbach, and insists on seeing his importance as an influence on the late 18th century Romantics, whereas d'Holbach is more accurately understood as part of a long tradition of subversive, libertine, anti-religious Enlightenment literature in France (see e.g. the works of experts in this area, such as Israel's Radical Enlightenment and Enlightenment Contested). If you insist on keeping this passage in then so be it, I can't be arsed to get into any sort of debate, but it will be to the article's detriment. -- Palthrow (talk) 19:21, 24 April 2009 (UTC)
Since we have gone into subjective impressions, mine is that your opinions in this matter are hopelessly mired in the mindset of the bourgeois academe that pushes such schools as "postmodernism", "poststructuralism" and other vacuous and largely worthless trends and fashions in academic thought. "Subversive, libertine" are the key and telltale terms in your statement above in evidence of this, "anti-religious" is the objective and correct part. Obviously the statement I've placed is the opposite of vague and your categorization of it as such is a case of the big lie. Coming from the interests you do, again clearly marked out by your holding yourself as a d'Holbach expert as over and against Richardson (can you site some published works?) it's not surprising that you state your subjective impression ("I found the passage in question hopelessly vague and unclear") of a succinct statement distilling the essence of Chapter I of the work in question. And FTR, very few people care about 19th century Romanticism outside of the aforementioned academe (in contrast to the numbers that are concerned about the promotion of rationalist viewpoints in the current century). Lycurgus (talk) 20:57, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
Sorry if I stepped on your toes, mate, but seriously, "bourgeois academe pushing "postmodernism" etc." -- how incredibly ad hominem and irrelevant to the point under discussion, not to mention far off the mark. It's also worth nothing that I never claimed to be a d'Holbach "expert" -- rather a student of his works -- but since you ask, my article "D'Holbach and the Design Argument" is pending publication in the journal Eighteenth-Century Thought. This passage "Theology which when it separates from mythology raises the power of nature above nature itself and thus alienates the two (i.e. "nature", all that actually exists, from its power, now personified in a being outside nature" does not seem to me a clear or intelligent summary of the first chapter of the SoN. When I have time, I plan to rework this article into something a bit more informative and then we can have this conversation all over again, hopefully along more civil lines. -- Palthrow (talk) 22:45, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
Acknowledging 1) that I mistook "student" for "expert" and 2) the ad-hominem (but not irrelevant) nature of the exchange above. Also, I am not your "mate". I doubt your "bit more informative" something can be of value but that's partially because after a lifetime of dealing with beings like yourself I am bitter. To my way of thinking the English translation at Gutenberg suffices but that's a personal opinion. Obviously a more substantial article even one colored by a hackneyed academic world view will no doubt be welcome (by others). 72.228.150.44 (talk) 02:02, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
In that case, I suggest that you vent your bitterness outside of Wikipedia instead of railing against "beings" like myself, a person you know virtually nothing about aside from the fact that I found your contribution to this article to be weak and unclear. There really was no call for the ad hitlerum stuff, for example. I am sorry to hear that as an academic student I apparently don't have the privilege of access to the "non-hackneyed" salt-of-the-earth world view of people such as yourself, but would like to add that the overwhelming majority of knowledge we have of the past, of people like d'Holbach and their works, is actually the product of work by professional, academic intellectual historians. -- Palthrow (talk) 03:39, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
That's just my point: in this era other "salt of the earth" individuals like myself can read d'Holbachs work directly without the intermediation of a professional hanger-on class with nothing original to contribute. The purpose of wikipedia should be to provide an entrepot for that. The fact that such individuals might not be prepared for such a reading is not addressed in any way by the activities of the publish or perish culture. But at this point I want to step back from this and wish you sincerely the best in preparing a work that would in fact contribute to human knowledge wrt SoN. This is after all material that is 200 years old and today there are large sections of the population who have no need of its message although sadly they are still in most (but not all) parts of the earth a salty minority. Lycurgus (talk) 11:16, 1 May 2009 (UTC)

"Free Will is an illusion"[edit]

This should be cited. I don't doubt that it can be but I also suspect a translation error. In any case it's the conflation of "free will" with "unlimited autonomy" that is the rhetorical fault/fallacy here. If the former is equated with the latter then the determination of material factors that shape behavior will be seen as infringing on and, in the titular absurdity for this thread, completely eliminating the autonomy a thinking subject has in making choices. The recognition of which choices are real and which are not does the opposite of decreasing ones ability to make such choices. Lycurgus (talk) 01:47, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

OK, good, that confirms it. As ever in such cases, there's equivocation on terms, here "free will". What the translated passage is saying is interesting though from a Behaviorist/Operant perspective, "master of his own will" is subtly different in that it implies that it is not external factors overriding the autonomous agents will but rather that such factors determine the agents will itself. No problem with the text as is now that the support is in place. Lycurgus (talk) 16:36, 27 November 2009 (UTC)