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Radical EnlightenmentPhilosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750$
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Jonathan I. Israel

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780198206088

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198206088.001.0001

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Bayle and the ‘Virtuous Atheist’

Bayle and the ‘Virtuous Atheist’

(p.330) (p.331) 18 Bayle and the ‘Virtuous Atheist’
Radical Enlightenment

Jonathan I. Israel

Oxford University Press

The most enigmatic and controversial, as well as probably the single most widely read and influential thinker of the Early Enlightenment, was the ‘philosopher of Rotterdam’ — Pierre Bayle (1647–1706). Though banned in France and the rest of Catholic Europe, his works were read everywhere and by everyone who claimed any sort of acquaintance with contemporary European intellectual life. Bayle is strictly speaking neither a sceptic nor a ‘fideist’. His position is that philosophical reason is the only tool we have to separate truth from falsehood, the only secure criterion, and that, consequently, by its nature religious faith can never be based on reason.

Keywords:   Pierre Bayle, Early Enlightenment, radical thought

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