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Encyclopedia
Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers (Encyclopaedia or a Systematic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts and Crafts) was a general encyclopedia
Encyclopedia
An encyclopedia is a type of reference work, a compendium holding a summary of information from either all branches of knowledge or a particular branch of knowledge....

 published in France between 1751 and 1772, with later supplements, revised editions, and translations. It was edited by Denis Diderot
Denis Diderot
Denis Diderot was a French philosopher, art critic, and writer. He was a prominent person during the Enlightenment and is best known for serving as co-founder and chief editor of and contributor to the Encyclopédie....

 and Jean le Rond d'Alembert
Jean le Rond d'Alembert
Jean-Baptiste le Rond d'Alembert was a French mathematician, mechanician, physicist, philosopher, and music theorist. He was also co-editor with Denis Diderot of the Encyclopédie...

. As of 1750, the full title was Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, par une société de gens de lettres, mis en ordre par M. Diderot de l'Académie des Sciences et Belles-Lettres de Prusse, et quant à la partie mathématique, par M. d'Alembert de l'Académie royale des Sciences de Paris, de celle de Prusse et de la Société royale de Londres. The title page was amended as D'Alembert acquired more titles.

The Encyclopédie was an innovative encyclopedia in several respects. Among other things, it was the first encyclopedia to include contributions from many named contributors, and it was the first general encyclopedia to lavish attention on the mechanical arts. Still, the Encyclopédie is famous above all for representing the thought of the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

. According to Denis Diderot in the article "Encyclopédie", the Encyclopédies aim was "to change the way people think." He wanted to incorporate all of the world's knowledge into the Encyclopédie and hoped that the text can disseminate all this information to the public and to future generations.

Origins


The Encyclopédie was originally conceived as a French translation of Ephraim Chambers
Ephraim Chambers
Ephraim Chambers was an English writer and encyclopaedist, who is primarily known for producing the Cyclopaedia, or a Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences.-Early life:...

's Cyclopaedia
Cyclopaedia, or Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences
Cyclopaedia: or, An Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences was an encyclopedia published by Ephraim Chambers in London in 1728, and reprinted in numerous editions in the eighteenth century...

 (1728). In 1743, the translation was entrusted by the Parisian book publisher André Le Breton
André Le Breton
André François le Breton was a French publisher. He was one of the four publishers of the Encyclopédie of Diderot and d'Alembert, along with Michel-Antoine David, Laurent Durand, and Antoine-Claude Briasson...

 to John Mills
John Mills (encyclopedist)
John Mills was an encyclopedist on the Encyclopédie. He was originally a writer on agricultural matters from England...

, an English resident in France. In May 1745, Le Breton announced the work as available for sale, but to his dismay, Mills had not done the work he was commissioned to do; in fact, he could barely read and write French and did not even own a copy of Cyclopaedia. Furious at having been swindled, Le Breton beat Mills with a cane. Mills sued for assault, but Le Breton was acquitted in court as being justified. For his new editor, Le Breton settled on the mathematician Jean Paul de Gua de Malves
Jean Paul de Gua de Malves
Jean Paul de Gua de Malves was a French mathematician who published in 1740 a work on analytical geometry in which he applied it, without the aid of differential calculus, to find the tangents, asymptotes, and various singular points of an algebraic curve.He further showed how singular points and...

. Among those hired by Malves were the young Étienne Bonnot de Condillac
Étienne Bonnot de Condillac
Étienne Bonnot de Condillac was a French philosopher and epistemologist who studied in such areas as psychology and the philosophy of the mind.-Biography:...

, Jean le Rond d'Alembert, and Denis Diderot. Within thirteen months, in August 1747, Gua de Malves was fired for being an ineffective leader. Le Breton then hired Diderot and Jean d'Alembert to be the new editors. Diderot would remain editor for the next twenty-five years, seeing the Encyclopédie through its completion.


Publication


The work comprised 28 volumes, with 71,818 articles and 3,129 illustrations. The first seventeen volumes were published between 1751 and 1765; eleven volumes of plates were finished by 1772. Because of its occasional radical contents (see "Contents" below), the French government suspended the encyclopedia's privilège in 1759, but because it had many highly placed supporters, notably Malesherbes
Guillaume-Chrétien de Lamoignon de Malesherbes
Guillaume-Chrétien de Lamoignon de Malesherbes , often referred to as Malesherbes or Lamoignon-Malesherbes, was a French statesman, minister, and afterwards counsel for the defence of Louis XVI.-Biography:...

 and Madame de Pompadour
Madame de Pompadour
Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour, also known as Madame de Pompadour was a member of the French court, and was the official chief mistress of Louis XV from 1745 to her death.-Biography:...

, work continued "in secret." In truth, secular authorities did not want to disrupt the commercial enterprise, which employed hundreds of people. To appease the church and other enemies of the project, the authorities had officially banned the enterprise, but they turned a blind eye to its continued existence.

In 1775, Charles Joseph Panckoucke obtained the rights to reissue the work. He issued five volumes of supplementary material and a two-volume index from 1776 to 1780. Some scholars include these seven "extra" volumes as part of the first full issue of the Encyclopédie, for a total of 35 volumes, although they were not written or edited by the original authors.

From 1782 to 1832, Panckoucke and his successors published an expanded edition of the work in some 166 volumes as the Encyclopédie méthodique
Encyclopédie Méthodique
The Encyclopédie méthodique par ordre des matières is a roughly 210 to 216 volumes encyclopedia that was published between 1782 and 1832 by the French publisher Charles Joseph Panckoucke, his son-in-law Henri Agasse, and the latter´s wife, Thérèse-Charlotte Agasse...

. That work, enormous for its time, occupied a thousand workers in production and 2,250 contributors.

Contributors


Since the objective of the editors of the Encyclopédie was to gather all the knowledge in the world, Diderot and D'Alembert knew they would need various contributors to help them with their project. Many of the most noted figures of the French Enlightenment contributed to the Encyclopédie, including Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

, Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.His novel Émile: or, On Education is a treatise...

, and Montesquieu
Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu
Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu , generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French social commentator and political thinker who lived during the Enlightenment...

. The most prolific contributor was Louis de Jaucourt
Louis de Jaucourt
Chevalier Louis de Jaucourt was a French scholar and the most prolific contributor to the Encyclopédie. He wrote about 18,000 articles on subjects including physiology, chemistry, botany, pathology, and political history, or about 25% of the entire encyclopedia, all done voluntarily...

, who wrote 17,266 articles, or about eight per day, between 1759 and 1765. The publication became a place where these contributors can share their ideas and interests.

Still, as Frank Kafker has argued, the Encyclopedists were not a unified group:
Following is a list of notable contributors with their area of contribution (for a more detailed list, see French Encyclopédistes
French Encyclopédistes
The encyclopédistes were a group of 18th-century writers in France who compiled and wrote the Encyclopédie, edited by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert. More than a hundred encyclopédistes have been identified. Many were part of the intellectual group known as the philosophes...

):
  • Jean Le Rond d'Alembert
    Jean le Rond d'Alembert
    Jean-Baptiste le Rond d'Alembert was a French mathematician, mechanician, physicist, philosopher, and music theorist. He was also co-editor with Denis Diderot of the Encyclopédie...

     — editor; science (especially mathematics), contemporary affairs, philosophy, religion, among others
  • André Le Breton
    André Le Breton
    André François le Breton was a French publisher. He was one of the four publishers of the Encyclopédie of Diderot and d'Alembert, along with Michel-Antoine David, Laurent Durand, and Antoine-Claude Briasson...

     — chief publisher; article on printer's ink
  • Louis-Jean-Marie Daubenton
    Louis-Jean-Marie Daubenton
    Louis-Jean-Marie Daubenton was a French naturalist.Daubenton was born at Montbard . His father, Jean Daubenton, a notary, intended him for the church, and sent him to Paris to study theology, but Louis-Jean-Marie was more interested in medicine...

     — natural history
  • Denis Diderot
    Denis Diderot
    Denis Diderot was a French philosopher, art critic, and writer. He was a prominent person during the Enlightenment and is best known for serving as co-founder and chief editor of and contributor to the Encyclopédie....

     — chief editor; economics, mechanical arts, philosophy, politics, religion, among others
  • Baron d'Holbach
    Baron d'Holbach
    Paul-Henri Thiry, Baron d'Holbach was a French-German author, philosopher, encyclopedist and a prominent figure in the French Enlightenment. He 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...

     — science (chemistry, mineralogy), politics, religion, among others
  • Chevalier Louis de Jaucourt
    Louis de Jaucourt
    Chevalier Louis de Jaucourt was a French scholar and the most prolific contributor to the Encyclopédie. He wrote about 18,000 articles on subjects including physiology, chemistry, botany, pathology, and political history, or about 25% of the entire encyclopedia, all done voluntarily...

     — economics, literature, medicine, politics, bookbinding, among others
  • Jean-Baptiste de La Chapelle
    Jean-Baptiste de La Chapelle
    Jean-Baptiste de La Chapelle was a French priest, mathematician and inventor.He contributed 270 articles to the Encyclopédie in the subjects of arithmetic and geometry...

     - mathematics
  • Montesquieu
    Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu
    Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu , generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French social commentator and political thinker who lived during the Enlightenment...

     — part of the article "Goût" ("Taste")
  • François Quesnay
    François Quesnay
    François Quesnay was a French economist of the Physiocratic school. He is known for publishing the "Tableau économique" in 1758, which provided the foundations of the ideas of the Physiocrats...

     — articles on tax farmers and grain
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.His novel Émile: or, On Education is a treatise...

     — music, political theory
  • Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, Baron de Laune
    Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, Baron de Laune
    Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot, Baron de Laune , often referred to as Turgot, was a French economist and statesman. Turgot was a student of Francois Quesnay and as such belonged to the Physiocratic school of economic thought...

     — economics, etymology, philosophy, physics
  • Voltaire
    Voltaire
    François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

     — history, literature, philosophy

Contents


The introduction to the Encyclopédie, D'Alembert's "Preliminary Discourse", is considered an important exposition of Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 ideals.
Among other things, it presents a taxonomy of human knowledge
Figurative system of human knowledge
The "figurative system of human knowledge", sometimes known as the tree of Diderot and d'Alembert, was a tree developed to represent the structure of knowledge itself, produced for the Encyclopédie by Jean le Rond d'Alembert and Denis Diderot....

 (see Fig. 3), which was inspired by Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Albans, KC was an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist, author and pioneer of the scientific method. He served both as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England...

's The Advancement of Learning
The Advancement of Learning
right|thumbnail|Title pageThe Advancement of Learning is a 1605 book by Francis Bacon.-Darwin:...

. The three main branches of knowledge are: "Memory"/History, "Reason"/Philosophy, and "Imagination"/Poetry. This tree of knowledge was created for the readers in order to help them evaluate the usefulness of the content within the Encyclopédie, and to organize its content. Notable is the fact that theology is ordered under "Philosophy". Robert Darnton
Robert Darnton
Robert Darnton is an American cultural historian, recognized as a leading expert on 18th-century France.-Life:He graduated from Harvard University in 1960, attended Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship, and earned a Ph.D. in history from Oxford in 1964, where he studied with Richard Cobb,...

 argues that this categorisation of religion as being subject to human reason and not a source of knowledge in and of itself was a significant factor in the controversy surrounding the work. Additionally, notice that "Knowledge of God" is only a few nodes away from "Divination
Divination
Divination is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic standardized process or ritual...

" and "Black Magic
Black magic
Black magic is the type of magic that draws on assumed malevolent powers or is used with the intention to kill, steal, injure, cause misfortune or destruction, or for personal gain without regard to harmful consequences. As a term, "black magic" is normally used by those that do not approve of its...

".

Likewise, many contributors saw the Encyclopédie as a vehicle for covertly destroying superstition
Superstition
Superstition is a belief in supernatural causality: that one event leads to the cause of another without any process in the physical world linking the two events....

s, while overtly providing access to human knowledge. In ancien régime France, it caused a storm of controversy, due mostly to its attacks on Catholicism and favor for religious tolerance. The Encyclopédie praised Protestant thinkers and challenged Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 dogma.

At the same time, the Encyclopédie was a vast compendium of knowledge, notably on the technologies of the period, describing the traditional craft tools and processes. Much information was taken from the Descriptions des Arts et Métiers
Descriptions des Arts et Métiers
Descriptions des Arts et Métiers, faites ou approuvées par messieurs de l'Académie Royale des Sciences was published by the Académie Royale des Sciences of Paris between 1761 and 1788....

. These articles applied a scientific approach to understanding the mechanical and production processes, and offered new ways to improve machines to make them more efficient. Diderot felt that people should have access to "useful knowledge" that they can apply to their everyday life.

Influence


The Encyclopédie played an important role in the intellectual ferment leading to the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

. "No encyclopaedia perhaps has been of such political importance, or has occupied so conspicuous a place in the civil and literary history of its century. It sought not only to give information, but to guide opinion," wrote the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica. In The Encyclopédie and the Age of Revolution, a work published in conjunction with a 1989 exhibition of the Encyclopédie at the University of California, Los Angeles, Clorinda Donato writes the following:
While many contributors to the Encyclopédie had no interest in radically reforming French society
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

, the Encyclopédie as a whole pointed that way. The Encyclopédie denied that the teachings of the Catholic Church could be treated as authoritative in matters of science. The editors also refused to treat the decisions of political powers as definitive in intellectual or artistic questions. Some articles talked about changing social and political institutions that would improve their society for everyone. Given that Paris was the intellectual capital of Europe at the time and that many European leaders used French as their administrative language, these ideas had the capacity to spread.

Statistics


Approximate size of the Encyclopédie:
  • 17 volumes of articles, issued from 1751 to 1765
  • 11 volumes of illustrations, issued from 1762 to 1772
  • 18,000 pages of text
  • 75,000 entries
    • 44,000 main articles
    • 28,000 secondary articles
    • 2,500 illustration indices
  • 20,000,000 words in total


Print run: 4,250 copies (note: even single-volume works in the 18th Century seldom had a print run of more than 1,500 copies)

Quotes

  • "Reason is to the philosopher what grace is to the Christian... Other men walk in darkness; the philosopher, who has the same passions, acts only after reflection; he walks through the night, but it is preceded by a torch. The philosopher forms his principles on an infinity of particular observations. He does not confuse truth with plausibility; he takes for truth what is true, for forgery what is false, for doubtful what is doubtful, and probable what is probable. The philosophical spirit is thus a spirit of observation and accuracy." (Philosophers article, Dumarsais)
  • "If exclusive privileges were not granted, and if the financial system would not tend to concentrate wealth, there would be few great fortunes and no quick wealth. When the means of growing rich is divided between a greater number of citizens, wealth will also be more evenly distributed; extreme poverty and extreme wealth would be also rare." (Wealth article, Diderot)

Literature

  • Preliminary discourse to the Encyclopedia of Diderot, Jean Le Rond d'Alembert, translated by Richard N. Schwab, 1995. ISBN 0-226-13476-8
  • Jean d'Alembert by Ronald Grimsley. (1963)
  • The Business of Enlightenment: A Publishing History of the Encyclopédie, 1775–1800 by Robert Darnton
    Robert Darnton
    Robert Darnton is an American cultural historian, recognized as a leading expert on 18th-century France.-Life:He graduated from Harvard University in 1960, attended Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship, and earned a Ph.D. in history from Oxford in 1964, where he studied with Richard Cobb,...

     (1979) ISBN 0674087852
  • The Encyclopedists as individuals: a biographical dictionary of the authors of the Encyclopédie by Frank A. Kafker and Serena L. Kafker. Published 1988 in the Studies of Voltaire and the eighteenth century. ISBN 0-7294-0368-8
  • Encyclopédie ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, Editions Flammarion, 1993. ISBN 2-080704265
  • Diderot, the Mechanical Arts, and the Encyclopédie, John R. Pannabecker, 1994. With bibliography.
  • L'Encyclopédie de Diderot et d'Alembert, édition DVD, Redon, ASIN: B0000DBA4X—the complete Encyclopédie on DVD-ROM
  • Enlightening the World: Encyclopedie, The Book That Changed the Course of History by Philipp Blom
    Philipp Blom
    Philip Blom is a historian, novelist, journalist and translator. He was born in Hamburg, Germany, and studied in Vienna and Oxford. He holds a DPhil in Modern History from Oxford University...

     (2005). ISBN 1403968950
  • The Encylopédie and the Age of Revolution. Ed. Clorinda Donato and Robert M. Maniquis. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1992. ISBN 0-8161-0527-8

Facsimiles


Readex Microprint Corporation, NY 1969. 5 vol. The full text and images reduced to four double-spread pages of the original appearing on one folio-sized page of this printing.

Later released by the Pergamon Press, NY and Paris with ISBN 0080901050.

External links


  • On-line version in original French
  • On-line version with an English interface and the dates of publication
  • Encyclopédie collaborative translation project currently contains a rather small but growing collection of articles translated into English (1,217 articles as of January 17, 2011).
  • The Encyclopedie, discussion on the BBC Radio 4
    BBC Radio 4
    BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

     programme In Our Time
    In Our Time (BBC Radio 4)
    In Our Time is a live BBC radio discussion series exploring the history of ideas, presented by Melvyn Bragg since 15 October 1998.. It is one of BBC radio's most successful discussion programmes, acknowledged to have "transformed the landscape for serious ideas at peak listening time"...

    , broadcast on October 26, 2006. With Judith Hawley, Senior Lecturer in English at Royal Holloway, University of London; Caroline Warman, Fellow and Tutor in French at Jesus College, Oxford; and David Wootton, Anniversary Professor of History at the University of York, and presented by Melvyn Bragg
    Melvyn Bragg
    Melvyn Bragg, Baron Bragg FRSL FRTS FBA, FRS FRSA is an English broadcaster and author best known for his work with the BBC and for presenting the The South Bank Show...

    .
  • Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers on French Wikisource

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