Dictionnaire Historique et Critique

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The Dictionnaire Historique et Critique (English: Historical and Critical Dictionary) is a biographical dictionary written by Pierre Bayle (1647–1706), a Huguenot who lived and published in Holland after fleeing his native France due to religious persecution. The dictionary was first published in 1697, and enlarged in the second edition of 1702. An English translation was first published in 1709.[1] The overwhelming majority of the entries are devoted to individual people, whether historical or mythical, but some articles treat religious beliefs and philosophies.[2] Many of the more controversial ideas in the book were hidden away in the voluminous footnotes, or slipped into articles on seemingly uncontroversial topics.

The rigor and skeptical approach used in the Dictionary influenced many thinkers of the Enlightenment, including Denis Diderot and the other Encyclopédistes, David Hume, and George Berkeley. Bayle delighted in pointing out contradictions between theological tenets and the supposedly self-evident dictates of reason. Bayle used the evidence of the irrationality of Christianity to emphasize that the basis of Christianity is faith in God and divine revelation. But at the same time Bayle sought to promote religious tolerance, and argued strongly against inflexible and authoritarian application of religious articles of faith.[3][4] This led to a bitter argument with his fellow French Protestant Pierre Jurieu.

Articles touching upon Dualism[edit]

  • Hyperius

    The two principles of all things, according to the notions of the Persians; of the names given to them; and of their opinions with regard to the Deity and the creation of all things. They established two principles; the first of these which is single and eternal, the Author and Principle of all good, is God, whom they called Tezad, Izad, or Izid, that is, He who ought to be pray'd to. They called him likewise Ormuzd, or Hormuz, or Hormizda, and by joining a more modern name, Hormizda Choda, that is, O great God, or, O supreme God. It is from this word, that the Greeks formed that of Oromasdes. Besides this Principle they laid down another created one, which they supposed to be the Principle of Evil and called it Ahariman, Ahreman, Ahriman, and sometimes in poetry Ahrimandn: whence the Greeks, who wrote the History of Persia, took their ????. This word is compounded of two others, which are synonymous and signify impure, polluted: so that these two words being joined signify very impure, and very much polluted. In their antient books, to shew the abhorrence which they had to the Demon, whom they called by this name, they wrote it in an inverted manner, thus: ????.[5]

  • Evil

    Now is it not more reasonable to divide these two opposite qualities, and to give all that is good to one principle, and all that is bad to another principle ? [...] this is a grand inconvenience, and which at first frightens human reason, to talk of a first principle [...] but it [God] is yet a greater imperfection to resolve voluntarily to do evil when one can do good. —This is what might be said by this Manichee[6]


Further reading[edit]

  • Thomas M. Lennon and Michael Hickson, "Pierre Bayle," The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2012) online

External links[edit]