Denis DiderotPhilosopher / Writer
Born: 5 October 1713
Died: 31 July 1784
Birthplace: Langres, France
Best known as: Enlightenment editor of Encyclopédie
Denis Diderot is one of the towering figures of the 18th century Enlightenment period, thanks largely to his editorship of the Encylopédie, one of the great attempts to catalog human knowledge. A prolific writer and talented talker, Diderot moved away from his early Jesuit training to an atheistic materialism, and had a great influence on the intellectual and political development in pre-revolution France. Diderot never got rich (for ready cash he sold his private library to the empress of Russia, Catherine the Great), but his years working on the Encyclopédie made him famous, and his friends included Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Voltaire.
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