Originally published in 1984. Paul Henri Thiery, Baron d'Holbach (1723-1789), was the center of the radical wing of the philosophers. Holbach wrote, translated, edited, and issued a stream of books and pamphlets, often under other names, that has made him the despair of bibliographers but has connected his name, by innuendo, gossip, and association, with most of what was written in defeense of atheistic materialism in late eighteenth-century France.
Holbach is best known for The System of Nature (1770) and deservedly, since it is a clear exposition of his main ideas. His initial position determines all the rest of his argument: 'There is not, there can be nothing out of that Nature which includes all beings.' Conceiving of nature as strictly limited to matter and motion, both of which have always existed, he flatly denies that there is any such thing as spirit or supernatural.
This is the first of three volumes.
Table of Contents
Preface. Part I: Laws of Nature.—Of man.—The faculties of the soul.—Doctrine of immortality.—On happiness. Chapter 1: Nature and her laws. Chapter 2: Of motion and its origin. Chapter 3: Of matter—of its various combinations—of its diversified motion—or of the course of Nature. Chapter 4: Laws of motion common to every being of Nature—attraction and repulsion—inert force—necessity. Chapter 5: Order and confusion—intelligence—chance. Chapter 6: Moral and physical distinctions of man—his origin. Chapter 7: The soul and the spiritual system. Chapter 8: The intellectual faculties derived from the faculty of feeling. Chapter 9: The diversity of the intellectual faculties; they depend on physical causes, as do their moral qualities.—The natural principles of society—morals—politics. Chapter 10: The soul does not derive its ideas from itself—it has no innate ideas. Chapter 11: Of the system of man’s free-agency. Chapter 12: An examination of the opinion which pretends that the system of fatalism is dangerous. Chapter 13: Of the immortality of the soul—of the doctrine of a future state—of the fear of death. Chapter 14: Education, morals, and the laws suffice to restrain man—of the desire of immortality—of suicide.
Paul Henri Thiery