Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 577 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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BARON PAUL HEINRICH DIETRICH HOLBACH D' (1723–1789), French philosopher and man of letters, of German origin, was born at Heidelshe'minthe palatinate in 1723. Of his family little is known; according to J. J. Rousseau his father was a rich parvenu, who brought his son at an early age to Paris, where the latter spent most of his life. Much of Holbach's fame is due to his intimate connexion with the brilliant coterie of bold thinkers and polished wits whose creed, the new philosophy, is concentrated in the famous Encyclopedia. Possessed of easy means and being of hospitable disposition, he kept open house for Helvetius, D'Alembert, Diderot, Condillac, Turgot, Buffon, Grimm, Hume, Garrick, Wilkes, Sterne, and for a time J. J. Rousseau, guests who, while enjoying the intellectual pleasure of their host's conversation, were not insensible to his excellent cuisine and costly wines. For the Encyclopedia he compiled and translated a large number of articles on chemistry and mineralogy, chiefly from German sources. He attracted more attention, however, in the department of philosophy. In 1767 Christianisme devoile appeared, in which he attacked Christianity and religion as the source of all human evils. This was followed up by other works, and in 1770 by a still more open attack in his most famous book, Le Systeme de la nature, in which it Holbach is also the author of the following and other works: Esprit du clerge (1767); De l'imposture sacerdolale (1767); Preetres demasques (1768) ; Examen critique de la vie et des ouvrages de St Paul (1770) ; Histoire critique de Jesus-Christ (1770), and Ethocratie (1776). For further particulars as to his life and doctrines see Grimm's Correspondance litteraire, &c. (1813); Rousseau's Confessions; Morellet's Memoires (x.821); Madame de Genlis, Les Diners du Baron Holbach; Madame d'Epinay's Memoires; Avezac-Lavigne, Diderot et la societe du Baron d'Holbach 0875), and Morley's Diderot (1878).
HOKUSAI (r 76o–1849)

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