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Reading Bayle

Reading Bayle

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    Reading Bayle
    Book Description:

    A critical but sympathetic treatment of Pierre Bayle. Once known as the 'Arsenal of the Enlightenment,' his concepts were widely adopted by later thinkers, but since his time there has been nothing but disagreement about how Bayle is to be interpreted.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7901-6
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Bibliographical Note
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-11)

    More than for most authors, something of Bayle′s biography and of the nature of his works is needed to understand what he wrote. Many have read Descartes′s celebratedDiscourse, for example, without attending to the circumstances of why the method it contains was excogitated in a stove-heated room somewhere in Germany.¹ This is not how Bayle would have read Descartes or anyone else. Moreover, Bayle has theoretical reasons for attending to such external circumstances. Roughly, he believes that belief is formed by grace or, in naturalistic terms, education; it is, to use the language of Hume, for whom Bayle was...

  6. 2 Integrity
    (pp. 12-41)

    Molière died during the evening of 17 February 1673 at the age of 53. Although gravely suffering from the tuberculosis that had long plagued him, he that afternoon had played in, of all things,Le malade imaginaire, so that his troupe would not be deprived of their livelihood.¹ He had a slight convulsion during the play, and was carried to his room afterwards, where, refusing his wife′s soup with a joke, he had a bit of Parmesan cheese instead. Choking on blood, he died – as it happened, in the arms of two nuns he was temporarily housing, to whom...

  7. 3 Authority
    (pp. 42-80)

    Why do we believe what we do? The question is ambiguous. In one sense it asks for the causes of our beliefs. This question will be investigated in chapter 6 below, on Bayle′s views concerning grace and Providence. Another sense of the question asks for the justification of our beliefs. Here we are asking about the authority for our beliefs.

    The question to be investigated in this chapter concerns authority over what ought to be believed. From what source ought our beliefs to come? Specifically, the question concerns therecognitionof authority in two closely related senses. First is the...

  8. 4 Toleration
    (pp. 81-106)

    Le Carla, where Bayle was born and spent the first two decades of his life, lies in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Not three miles away, up a hill to the south-east, lies Artigat, where, a century before his birth, there took place a series of events that was to be a prime illustration of Bayle′s conception of toleration. The events contain the elements of irresistible drama: love, death, longing, war, envy, legal confrontation, and most crucially, mistaken identity. There are other cases that he repeats, but none has these or any other elements to make them so compelling.


  9. 5 Idolatry
    (pp. 107-142)

    When Moses had been away for forty days on the mountain, speaking with God and receiving the tables containing the Ten Commandments, his people became disturbed: ′as for this Moses, they said, ″the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not [i.e. do not know] what is become of him.″′¹ Besides perplexity it is not clear what they felt; their reaction, in any case, was to approach Aaron, the brother of Moses, with the request to make for them ′gods, which shall go before [them].′ Their state of mind at this point is even...

  10. 6 Providence
    (pp. 143-182)

    The nest of concepts to be discussed in this chapter much occupied the attention of the seventeenth century. Pascal at mid-century invented the modern probability calculus - as the story goes, in order to divide the stakes in an interrupted game of chance. Gassendi around the same time was arguing, on behalf of a theologically acceptable atomism, that if the Epicurean world were finite, chance could not account for its order and Providence would have to be reintroduced.¹ Towards the end of the century, these concepts of probability, chance, and related notions were, for additional sorts of reasons, receiving even...

  11. Epilogue
    (pp. 183-186)

    With all of the above, has the essential Bayle at last been found and the Bayle enigma solved? Bayle has certainly not been categorized in any of the terms, or sorts of terms, that made it possible to state the enigma. The Bakhtinian reading of Bayle is not itself a hidden message; rather, it is precisely the reading that there is no hidden message. In fact, the Bayle enigma has in principle been extended to all authors of a certain kind of text, who like Dostoevsky (or God Himself) are able to relate in a special way to the people...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 187-194)
  13. Index
    (pp. 195-202)