An English translation of Pierre Bayle's posthumous last book, Entretiens de Maxime et de Themiste (1707), in which Bayle defends his skeptical position on the problem of the evil. This book is often cited and attacked by G.W. Leibniz in his Theodicy (1710). Over one hundred pages of original philosophical and historical material introduce the translation, providing it with context and establishing the work's importance.
Theodicy and Toleration Seem at first glance to be an unlikely pair of topics to treat in a single paper. Toleration usually means putting up with beliefs or actions with which one disagrees, and it is practiced because the beliefs or actions in question are not disagreeable enough to justify interference. It is usually taken to be a topic for moral and political philosophy. Theodicy, on the other hand, is the attempt to solve the problem of evil; that is, to (...) explain the origin of suffering and sin in a way that does not make God a moral cause of those evils.1 While theodicy concerns the notions of good and evil, and could therefore be considered a moral topic, historical and contemporary discussions of it have .. (shrink)
In this paper I uncover and critically analyze a methodological assumption in the literature on conscientious refusals in health care. The assumption is what I call the “Priority of Conscience Principle,” which says the following: to determine the moral status of any act of conscientious refusal, it is first necessary to determine the nature and value of conscience. I argue that it is not always necessary to discuss conscience in the debate on conscientious refusals, and that discussing conscience is even (...) problematic, since it can lead authors to beg the question. (shrink)
A survey of Bayle's skeptical arguments regarding Descartes' criterion of truth, which Bayle refers to as "evidence." Bayle's arguments for degrees of evidence, as well as for the necessity and sufficiency of possessing a high degree of evidence in order to form virtuous beliefs, are surveyed as well.
In the Dedicatory Letter of the Meditations, René Descartes claims that he will offer a proof of the soul’s immortality, to be accomplished by reason alone. This proof is also promised by the title page of the first edition of the Meditations, which includes the words “in which the existence of God and the immortality of the soul are demonstrated.” But in the Synopsis, and later in his replies to objections, Descartes gives a more nuanced account of the possibility of (...) proving immortality and whether an attempt is even to be found in the Meditations. To confuse matters further, the title page of the second edition no longer mentions a demonstration of immortality but promises only to prove the distinction between body and soul. The question arises, therefore, whether the Meditations contains a purely philosophical demonstration of the immortality of the soul. (shrink)
In this paper I uncover the identities of the interlocutors of Pierre Bayle's Entretiens de Maxime et de Themiste, and I show the significance of these identities for a proper understanding of the Entretiens and of Bayle's thought more generally. Maxime and Themiste represent the philosophers of late antiquity, Maximus of Tyre and Themistius. Bayle brought these philosophers into dialogue in order to suggest that the problem of evil, though insoluble by means of speculative reason, could be dissolved and thus (...) avoided through mutual toleration. I conclude by comparing Bayle's "theodicy of toleration" with Kant's notion of authentic theodicy. (shrink)
Pierre Bayle is perhaps most well-known for arguing in his Dictionary that the problem of evil cannot be solved by reason alone. This skepticism about theodicy is usually credited to a religious crisis suffered by Bayle in 1685 following the unjust imprisonment and death of his brother, the death of his father, and the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. But in this paper I argue that Bayle was skeptical about theodicy a decade earlier than these events, from at least (...) the time of his Sedan philosophy course. I then argue that both the Various Thoughts on the Comet and Philosophical Commentary on Luke 4:23, which are usually read as treatments of superstition and toleration respectively, are works that also closely engage the problem of evil and demonstratethe skepticism of Bayle toward theodicy. (shrink)
A 1400-word article presenting Bayle's philosophical defence of the possibility of a virtuous atheist. I argue that this defence is an important moment in the history of the secularization of Western morality.
Demands for absolute or near certainty are a common way for those with a political agenda to undermine science and to delay action. Through our combined experience in science, philosophy and cultural theory, we are acquainted with these attempts to undermine science. We want to help readers figure out how to evaluate their merits or lack thereof.
Pierre Bayle is perhaps most well-known for arguing in his Dictionary (1697) that the problem of evil cannot be solved by reason alone. This skepticism about theodicy is usually credited to a religious crisis suffered by Bayle in 1685 following the unjust imprisonment and death of his brother, the death of his father, and the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. But in this paper I argue that Bayle was skeptical about theodicy a decade earlier than these events, from at (...) least the time of his Sedan philosophy course (1675–77). I then argue that both the Various Thoughts on the Comet (1683) and Philosophical Commentary on Luke 4:23 (1686–88), which are usually read as treatments of superstition and toleration respectively, are works that also closely engage the problem of evil and demonstratethe skepticism of Bayle toward theodicy. (shrink)
Pierre Bayle’s theory of religious toleration has received much attention over the past three centuries, yet there is still little consensus surrounding the precise logic of Bayle’s argument, and even less consensus concerning whether that argument is successful or perhaps utterly inconsistent. One of the central themes in the literature concerns the role of skepticism in Bayle’s argument for toleration. Some argue that Baylean toleration is based entirely in a non-skeptical morality that is in turn based in conscience, while others (...) argue that Baylean toleration requires a foundation of skeptical doubt. In this paper I will offer an interpretation of Bayle’s argument for toleration as it is offered in the Ninth Letter of the Nouvelles lettres critiques (1685), and I will show that skepticism plays an essential role in the argument. (shrink)
Did Bayle write the Avis aux réfugiés? Although the long debate over this question might not be over, we are convinced that strong probability supports Gianluca Mori's position that Bayle was indeed its sole author. We are also convinced, however, that the significance that Mori assigns to Bayle's authorship gets it exactly the wrong way around, for while Mori is right that the Avis is not only consistent but also representative of the views espoused by Bayle in his subsequent work (...) (indeed, as we see it, throughout all his work), those views are not, as Mori claims, intended to be subversive of Christianity, indeed, of all religion, but supportive of it. (shrink)