When we examine the opinions of men, we find that nothing is more uncommon, than common sense; or, in other words, they lack judgment to discover plain truths, or to reject absurdities, and palpable contradictions. We have an example of this in Theology, a system revered in all countries by a great number of men; an object regarded by them as most important, and indispensable to happiness. An examination of the principles upon which this... more...

CHAP. I. The Origin of Man's Ideas upon the Divinity. If man possessed the courage, if he had the requisite industry to recur to the source of those opinions which are most deeply engraven on his brain; if he rendered to himself a faithful account of the reasons which make him hold these opinions as sacred; if he coolly examined the basis of his hopes, the foundation of his fears, he would find that it very frequently happens, those objects, or... more...

INTRODUCTION Paul Henri Thiery, Baron d'Holbach (1723-1789), was the center of the radical wing of the philosophes. He was friend, host, and patron to a wide circle that included Diderot, D'Alembert, Helvetius, and Hume. 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... more...

I.—APOLOGUE. There is a vast empire governed by a monarch, whose conduct does but confound the minds of his subjects. He desires to be known, loved, respected, and obeyed, but he never shows himself; everything tends to make uncertain the notions which we are able to form about him. The people subjected to his power have only such ideas of the character and the laws of their invisible sovereign as his ministers give them; these suit,... more...

For many years this work has been known under the title of Letters to Eugenia. The secretive character of those, however, into whose hands the manuscript at first fell; the singular and yet actual pleasure that is caused generally enough in the minds of all men by the exclusive possession of any object whatever; that kind of torpor, servitude, and terror in which the tyrannical power of the priests then held all minds—even those who by the... more...