Who is Paul-Henri Thiry, Baron d’Holbach?June 26, 2021
Although he did not develop a new and original thought, he was the philosopher who tried to make the French materialism established by La Mettrie a more detailed and precise system.
The German-born philosopher, whose real name is Paul Henri Dietrich Baron D’ Holbach, is one of the most important materialist philosophers of the period. He also produced works of literary value. Born in Heidesheim in 1723, the philosopher died in Paris in 1789.
D’ Holbach, who came to Paris at a young age, spent most of his life in this city. The philosopher, who used the great wealth inherited from his father to protect the artists and thinkers, gathered the important thinkers and artists of his time in his hall. Especially the leading names of the Encyclopedia were the people who came to his salon frequently.
One of those who gave information about D’ Holbach’s hall is Rousseau, who himself attended the meetings in this hall. Rousseau gave information about the meetings in D’ Holbach’s hall in his book Confessions. This hall, where the newest ideas of the period are discussed and discussed, is one of the reference sources for those who want to understand the intellectual movements of France at that time. The most important work of D’ Holbach, who translated many scientific and literary works from German into French, is called “The System of Nature”. D’ Holbach, who is also the author of many articles on physics and chemistry in the Encyclopedia, has produced many important works.
D’ Holbach took an atheistic attitude in his works and made very harsh criticisms of Christianity and especially priests. His studies on chemistry, physiology and especially geology were an important factor in his moving away from religion by noticing the contradictions in the holy books. He concluded that it was necessary to leave the holy books and take the safe path of science. D’ Holbach, who thinks that the Christian religion interferes with politics and has harmful effects on humanity, concluded that Christian morality is also useless.
According to D’ Holbach, the cause of human unhappiness is our ignorance about nature and the prejudices handed down to us since childhood. Human, who does not know nature, runs after dark dreams. He seeks help from the dreams of some transcendent beings. Since they do not know the true path of nature, they deviate from the right path. Priests and tyrants use this ignorance for their own benefit.
A person who does not respect his own mind is condemned to a life bound by the chains of these interest groups. The way to save people from this is to learn to respect their own reason by knowing nature, to be brave and to follow the love of truth, goodness and peace instead of being distracted by transcendent dreams. Theology of all kinds is spreading these lies among people. According to him, then he should get rid of all of them.
It would be appropriate to give an important detail, although it is not well known in Turkey at the moment. He was one of the thinkers of the French Revolution, the pioneer of modernization in Turkey, and he was a person who tried to use a philosophical materialism in the political arena and succeeded as a political genius. On the other hand, it is known that he was the first systematizer of atheism.
Holbach; He is a philosopher who claims that what actually exists is living, moving matter, that matter and spirit are one and the same thing, and aims to put the French materialism, created by La Mettrie, on more detailed and precise foundations.
Holbach is a mechanistic-materialist thinker. According to him, material nature is the first cause of everything that exists. Nature was not created and will not perish. Matter moves with its own powers and does not need any external influence to move. Man is a part of the universe and depends on universal determinism. Man’s mental faculties are conditioned by the structure of his body.
Holbach; He denied the existence of god, spirit, and innate ideas and called them harmful beliefs.
Holbach also has works translated into Turkish entitled “The Deceit of the Priests”, “The Unmasked Priests” and “The Spirit of Judaism”.
D’ Holbach’s Understanding of Nature
Ethics and Politics of D’ Holbach
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer Yıldırım