An Historical and Critical Dictionary Context

Pierre Bayle


(Student Guide to World Philosophy)

Pierre Bayle’s An Historical and Critical Dictionary is a compendium of arguments, tending toward a skeptical view, for and against almost every theory in philosophy and theology. In the eighteenth century, it was called the “Arsenal of the Enlightenment,” and it played a very important role in intellectual discussions throughout the first half of that century. Significant criticisms of the major and minor philosophers and theologians of the time appear throughout An Historical and Critical Dictionary. Thinkers such as George Berkeley, David Hume, and Voltaire used the work as a source of arguments and inspiration. Remaining in vogue until it was no longer useful as a reference work, the last edition appeared in 1820.