Helvétius, Claude-Adrien


Helvétius, Claude-Adrien
born Jan. 26, 1715, Paris, France
died Dec. 26, 1771, Voré, Collines des Perches

French philosopher, controversialist, and patron of the philosophes.

He is remembered for his hedonism, his criticism of the religious foundations of ethics, and his educational theory. His On the Mind (1758) immediately became notorious for its attack on all forms of morality based on religion. He held that all men are equally capable of learning
a belief that led him to argue against the position taken by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his work Émile
and that through education all human problems could be solved.

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▪ French philosopher
born Jan. 26, 1715, Paris, Fr.
died Dec. 26, 1771, Voré, Collines des Perches

      philosopher (philosophe), controversialist, and wealthy host to the Enlightenment group of French thinkers known as Philosophes. He is remembered for his hedonistic emphasis on physical sensation, his attack on the religious foundations of ethics, and his extravagant educational theory.

      Helvétius, the son of the Queen's chief physician, was made farmer general (a revenue office) at the Queen's request in 1738. In 1751 he married, resigned his post, and retired to his lands at Voré. There he wrote the poem Le Bonheur (“Happiness”), published posthumously with an account of his life and works by the Marquis de Saint-Lambert (1772), and his celebrated philosophical work De l'esprit (1758; “On the Mind”), which immediately became notorious. For its attack on all forms of morality based on religion it aroused formidable opposition, particularly from the son of Louis XV, the dauphin Louis, though it was published openly with the benefit of royal privilege. The Sorbonne condemned it, and it was ordered burned in public. This, the gravest crisis the Philosophes had known, led Voltaire to claim that the book was commonplace, obscure, and in error. Also, Jean-Jacques Rousseau declared that the very benevolence of the author gave the lie to his principles. Helvétius was called to recant, and he thrice made retractions of the book. Publication of the famous Philosophes' Encyclopédie was suspended, and works by others, including Voltaire, also were burned.

      Conveniently, Helvétius visited England in 1764 and, on invitation of Frederick II the Great, went to Berlin in 1765. On his return to France the same year the Philosophes were once again in favour, and Helvétius spent the rest of his life at Voré.

      Helvétius held that all men are equally capable of learning, a belief that led him to argue against Rousseau's work on education, Émile, and to claim in De L'homme (1772) that education's possibilities for solving human problems were unlimited.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Helvétius, Claude-Adrien — (1715 1771)    philosopher    An important thinker of the Enlightenment, Claude Adrien Helvétius was born in Paris. in 1738, he was appointed farmer general, a post that he held, along with other government appointments, due to the influence of… …   France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present

  • Helvétius, Claude-Adrien — (1715–1771) One of the moving spirits behind the Encyclopédie, Helvétius defended a theory of human motivation founded on sensation: we are pushed to action solely by self interested love of pleasure and desire to avoid pain. He is principally… …   Philosophy dictionary

  • Helvétius, Claude-Adrien — See Enlightenment I (The French): science, materialism and determinism and Enlightenment II (The French): deism, morality and politics …   History of philosophy

  • Helvetius, Claude Adrien — ► (1715 71) Filósofo francés. Estuvo muy influido por Locke, la lectura del cual le entusiasmó ante la posibilidad de aplicar el empirismo a las cuestiones morales y políticas. Fue ateo en filosofía, y hedonista y utilitario en moral. Su obra… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Helvetius, Claude-Adrien — (26 ene. 1715, París, Francia–26 dic. 1771, Voré, Collines des Perches). Filósofo francés, polemista y protector de los filosófos. Es recordado por su hedonismo, sus críticas de los fundamentos religiosos de la ética y su teoría educativa. Su… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Claude Adrien Helvétius — (* 26. Februar 1715 in Paris; † 26. Dezember 1771 ebenda) war ein französischer Philosoph des Sensualismus und Materialismus der Aufklärung. Er war der Ehemann der Salonnière Ann …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Claude Adrien Helvétius — Full name Claude Adrien Helvétius Born January 26, 1715(1715 01 26) Paris, France Died …   Wikipedia

  • Claude-Adrien Helvetius — Claude Adrien Helvétius Pour les articles homonymes, voir Helvétius. Helvétius. Gravure d Augustin de Saint Aubin d après Michel van Loo …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Claude Adrien Helvétius — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Helvétius. Helvétius. Gravure d Augustin de Saint Aubin d après Michel van Loo …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Claude-Adrien Helvétius — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Helvétius. Claude Adrien Helvétius Philosophe Occidental Époque Contemporaine …   Wikipédia en Français


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