10 Facts About Baron d'Holbach


Paul-Henri Thiry, Baron d'Holbach, known as d'Holbach, was a Franco-German philosopher, encyclopedist and writer, who was a prominent figure in the French Enlightenment.


Baron d'Holbach was born Paul Heinrich Dietrich in Edesheim, near Landau in the Rhenish Palatinate, but lived and worked mainly in Paris, where he kept a salon.


Baron d'Holbach helped in the dissemination of "Protestant and especially German thought", particularly in the field of the sciences, but was best known for his atheism and for his voluminous writings against religion, the most famous of them being The System of Nature and The Universal Morality.


From c 1750 to c 1790, Baron d'Holbach used his wealth to maintain one of the more notable and lavish Parisian salons, which soon became an important meeting place for the contributors to the Encyclopedie.


Baron d'Holbach's philosophy was expressly materialistic and atheistic and is today categorised into the philosophical movement called French materialism.


In 1770, Baron d'Holbach published his most famous book, The System of Nature, under the name of Jean-Baptiste de Mirabaud, the secretary of the Academie who had died ten years previously.


Regardless of the extent of Diderot's contribution to the System of Nature, it is on the basis of this work that Baron d'Holbach's philosophy has been called "the culmination of French materialism and atheism".


Baron d'Holbach criticized the then prevailing policy of the French government to let private individuals collect tax on the ground that the tax collectors often extort double the money they are supposed to collect from the citizens.


Baron d'Holbach believed that religious groups should be voluntary organizations without any government support.


Later in 1754, when he learnt that Mme Baron d'Holbach had died, Rousseau wrote a tender condolence letter to Baron d'Holbach, and the friendship between the two men was rekindled.