The works following the second edition of the Dictionnaire lack the originality and creative vigor of Bayle’s earlier publications. In the final years he devoted most of his energy to defending and amplifying ideas he had already made public. The most significant of his works, the Continuation des Pensées diverses (1704), provided a long analysis of the criterion of universal consent and further documentation for the comparison of atheists and idolaters (not a word on comets), but remained after all only an extension of his previous work, reaffirming some of its theses. The majority of his output after 1702 appeared in the four parts of the Réponse aux questions d’un provincial (Part I in 1703, Part II in 1705, Part III in two volumes, 1706, and Part IV posthumously in 1707). Under this nebulous title Bayle permitted himself to collect helter-skelter a series of reflections on entirely unrelated subjects, historical, literary, and philosophical. Part I, for example, contained chapters on Plato’s doctrine of the immortality of the soul, on the debts contracted by the Duchess of Mazarin, on whether Elizabeth I of England interrupted preachers, and on various aspects of witchcraft.


English Philosopher Protestant Theologian Dialogue Concern Natural Religion Universal Consent Genre Humain 
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  1. 1.
    Delvolvé, Religion, critique, et philosophie positive chez Pierre Bayle, pp. 324–335, shows admirably how far Leibnitz came from succeeding. W. H. Barber devotes two very sound chapters to Bayle in his Leibniz in France from Arnauld to Voltaire: A Study in French Reactions to Leibnizianism, 1670–1760 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1955). — Given his tenacity, we can imagine that had Bayle lived on, he would still be arguing with his opponents over the mystery of God’s goodness.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The pieces in this dispute are as follows: (1) Le Clerc, Bibliothèque choisie, vol. IV, (2) Beauval’s journal, August 1704, (3) Le Clerc’s journal, vol. VII, (4) Réponse aux questions d’un provincial, Part II, chaps. CLXXIX-CLXXXI, (5) Le Clerc’s journal, vol. IX, and (6) Réponse pour M. Bayle à M. Le Clerc, OD III, 989–1009. For convenience’s sake the Réponse aux questions d’un provincial will henceforth be abbreviated RQP in footnotes.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    (1) Bibliothèque choisie, vol. VII, (2) RQP II, chaps. CLXXII-CLXXV, (3) Le Clerc’s journal, vol. IX, (4) Réponse pour M. Bayle à M. Le Clerc, (5) Le Clerc’s journal, vol. X, (6) Entretiens de Maxime et Thémiste. Google Scholar
  4. 1.
    The works involved in this dispute are (i) Jaquelot’s Conformité de la foi avec la raison (1705), (2) RQP II, chaps. CXXVIII-CLXI, (3) Examen de la théologie de M. Bayle (1706), (4) RQP IV, chaps. XVII-XIX, (5) Entretiens de Maxime et de Thémiste, and (6) Réponse aux Entretiens composés par M. Bayle (1707). Besides the origin of evil, the subject of free will and the relation between faith and reason were debated.Google Scholar
  5. 2.
    (1) Nouvelles de la république des lettres, February and March 1705, (2) RQP II, chaps. XCV-GXI, (3) RQP III, chaps. IX-XXIX, (4) Bernard’s journal, January and February 1706, (5) RQP IV, chaps. XX-XXVI, and (6) Bernard’s journal, July 1707. In the later parts of the discussion the Manichaean question was also raised.Google Scholar
  6. 3.
    Zénon d’Elée 2 I, where Locke advocates the void, admitting that it is incomprehensible, Dicéarque 2 M, where he takes the same position on the sentience of matter, and Perrot, Nicolas 2 K, where he confesses that he has no philosophical proof of the immortality of the soul. In each case Bayle expresses his disapproval of Locke’s conclusions, but his approval of the empiricist’s frank admission that his philosophy cannot give demonstrative proofs of these opinions. Exactly the same kind of thinking occurs in a letter to Shaftesbury (OD IV, 789–790, 23 November 1699) in which Bayle writes that Locke would have no trouble accounting for weight and solidity if he gave up his belief in the void. Bayle was able to discuss Locke’s philosophy on the basis of quotations he found in Le Clerc’s Parrhasiana or in Bernard’s journal and from his own cursory reading of the Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which he quotes in Zénon d’Elée 2 I and Rorarius 2 K. He had still not read the treatise carefully by mid-May 1702 (OD IV, 820 r, to Pierre Coste).Google Scholar
  7. 1.
    OD III, 196, 207, 214, 221. P.J. S. Whitmore concludes very wrongly that Bayle was forced to abandon Descartes for Locke’s sensationalism, “Bayle’s Criticism of Locke,” Pierre Bayle, le philosophe de Rotterdam, p. 87. Locke’s concept of an innate idea is a very limited one and in no way excludes an innate faculty of reasoning capable of understanding external reality to a certain extent. His point is that this faculty has no content prior to experience. Accepting that one point does not necessarily entail a wholesale rejection of Cartesian philosophy.Google Scholar
  8. 1.
    In the same letter Bayle is perhaps hinting that Locke was also guilty of believing that God is formally extended. He considers this an impiety, but recognizes that other authors are unaware that it is. Whitmore does not mention this letter in his article”(see previous footnote), and seems to me to misunderstand totally the whole tenor of Bayle’s letters. He believes that Bayle approves of Locke’s work. Léo Pierre Courtines, in his Bayle’s Relations with England and the English (New York: Columbia University Press, 1938), p. 117, discusses these letters objectively and more completely. He does not mention Bayle’s remarks linking Locke with Socinianism and draws no inferences concerning the Frenchman’s opinion of Locke’s orthodoxy.Google Scholar
  9. 1.
    If this is true, He could arrest the operation of the universe at any moment. Bayle admits that Strata’s theory gives a better guarantee of the duration of the world (OD III, 338 r).Google Scholar
  10. 3.
    OD III, 342 r, and later in RQP II, 892 r.Google Scholar
  11. 1.
    This whole discussion particularly impressed David Hume, who mentions it more than once in the notes he made preparatory to writing the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. He read Bayle in the edition of the Œuvres diverses and adapted his arguments frequently. See Léo Pierre Courtine’s “Bayle, Hume and Berkeley,” Revue de Littérature Comparée, XXI (1947), 416–428.Google Scholar
  12. 2.
    Twenty-six years earlier, Bayle had argued against Poiret on this very point (OD IV, 155–156). In RQP III, 987 r, he again sees reasons for believing that God willed the essence of things. Still he does not specifically endorse the idea.Google Scholar
  13. 3.
    These are among the most intricate pages that Bayle ever wrote, and also the least clear. I am gratified to read that the only other analysis of their content, Elisabeth Labrousse’s, seems to be quite in accord with the one given here (Hétérodoxie et rigorisme, pp. 167, 214–217). She finds Bayle’s adherence to the Cartesian dualism of mind and extension becoming more rigorous as he considers Strato. The net result is an extreme form of occasionalism in physics (not theology).Google Scholar
  14. 1.
    The two references to the Continuation des Pensées diverses are OD III, 342, note m, and 286, note r. Bayle is mistaken on the title of Poiret’s book, which should read Cogitationum raiionalium. Google Scholar
  15. 1.
    The exact punishment Bayle has in mind for other magicians is not clear, but some of the authors he quotes (e.g., Malebranche) recommend death (OD III, 564 /).Google Scholar
  16. 2.
    Le Clerc was an Arminian, often accused of Socinian tendencies. Jaquelot became an Arminian after he left Holland for Berlin. Bernard, a relative and protégé of Le Clerc’s, tended to rationalist beliefs. Critics unanimously comment on the unusual alliance between these men and Jurieu, the self-appointed scourge of rationalist theology.Google Scholar
  17. 3.
    The ordinance is quoted in RQP II, OD III, 765 r.Google Scholar
  18. 1.
    Note the use of the word “athée.” See supra, p. 217 n. 2.Google Scholar
  19. 1.
    This passage from the Continuation des Pensées diverses was written before Bayle became involved in controversies with Jaquelot. Other passages with the same thought abound, for example OD III, 761 r, 770 /, OD IV, 44 r. Popkin believes that this is not consistent with the skepticism of the DHC. See “Pierre Bayle’s Place in 17th century Scepticism,” in Pierre Bayle, le philosophe de Rotterdam, pp. 10–15. He says that having rejected self-evidence, Bayle cannot logically expect reason to prove anything. How then could he say that reason bids one accept revelation? I have tried to explain how Bayle would avoid this criticism. He would say that he does not reject self-evidence totally. It is the best criterion available, but is not always sufficient because many self-evident propositions can be disputed. The less disputable a proposition the more likely it is to be true. This, perhaps, is just a modified way of accepting “l’évidence” as criterion. If so, Popkin has a point, and Bayle is not entirely consistent in everything he says. It is more important for our purposes to know what Bayle thought. As a philosopher, Popkin is right to be concerned with questions of consistency. Still, it seems to me that he misses some of the nuances of Bayle’s thought — only some, for he is by far the soundest writer on Bayle’s skepticism.Google Scholar
  20. 1.
    Other passages: OD III, 795 r, 1073 l. On a minor point Bayle is not always consistent. Are the mysteries above reason, or against it? They are certainly above human reason, and even against it. But if reason is taken to mean divine reason, they are neither above nor against it (OD III, 833 l). Earlier Bayle had been content with the Protestant commonplace that mysteries were above, but not contrary to, reason.Google Scholar
  21. 2.
    Leibnitz cites this passage (Théodicée, “Conformité de la foi avec la raison,” 58), saying that Bayle may have the right to accept something incomprehensible, but not something against which insoluble objections can be made. This section of the Théodicée is as good a review of Bayle’s reasoning as can be found anywhere. Leibnitz’s answers are far from convincing, but he may have a point. Bayle himself admits that he has an argument against these “insoluble” objections, namely that God is sovereignly perfect. For Leibnitz this one argument undoes all the objections. Bayle seems to me more honest than Leibnitz because he says that he can conquer his adversaries on a priori grounds, but that he is helpless in a posteriori reasoning.Google Scholar
  22. 1.
    See his article in Pierre Bayle, le philosophe de Rotterdam, p. 2.Google Scholar
  23. 2.
    Karl Christian Sandberg, Faith and Reason in the Thought of Pierre Bayle, p. 28. Sandberg’s rapid summary is quite complete. See also Paul Dibon’s article in Pierre Bayle le philosophe de Rotterdam for the emergence of modern ideas about Bayle.Google Scholar
  24. 1.
    See Sandberg, Faith and Reason, pp. 199–218 for an excellent summary of this matter. This material has been published in “Pierre Bayle’s Sincerity in His Views on Faith and Reason,” Studies in Philology, LXI (1964), 74–84.Google Scholar
  25. 1.
    The statistics of Bayle’s correspondence can be found in Elisabeth Labrousse’s Inventaire p. 59. Among his Catholic correspondents, a slightly smaller percentage (36%) belonged to the church.Google Scholar
  26. 1.
    The Life, Unpublished Letters, and Philosophical Regimen of Anthony, Earl of Shaftesbury, ed. Benjamin Rand (New York: Macmillan Co., 1900), pp. 373–374. Quoted by H. G. Hazewinkel in Pierre Bayle, le philosophe de Rotterdam, pp. 41–42 and by Robinson in Boyle the Sceptic, p. 245. Robinson claims in footnote 27 that “This letter appears to have escaped the attention of Bayle’s French biographers.” If he is presenting it as a discovery, one is all the more disturbed by the fact that in citing it he omits the crucial sentence in which Shaftesbury asserts that Bayle’s conversation did not correspond to his enemies’ ideas of him.Google Scholar
  27. 5.
    Note (4) of Grévius refers to Bayle’s previous citation of this passage (15).Google Scholar
  28. 7.
    This reference is doubtful. Bayle explains the meaning of the words “cheval du regne,” purportedly found in the Essais though he admits he does not know where. Since the usage is not listed in the lexicon in Volume V of the Municipal Edition, I suspect that Bayle’s memory (or his source) has misled him. It is perhaps while searching for the term in “Des destriers” (I: xlviii) that he came across Montaigne’s remark on Guévara (63) and inserted it in the Dictionnaire. Google Scholar
  29. 8.
    This particular passage is referred to three times in Bayle; once in the Pensées diverses (70), once in the Dictionnaire (50), and here. Bayle was impressed by the story of Democritus and the figs (See supra p. 87) as he had read it in Montaigne. When he repeated it in his works he was disturbed that he could not find any source for the anecdote more ancient than the essayist. Twenty years after first using the incident, he found Montaigne’s source, Plutarch’s Symposium; but he found it several days after the completion of the second edition of the Dictionnaire and could only make a note of it for inclusion in later (posthumous) editions.Google Scholar
  30. 1.
    Bayle refers to his earlier quotation of this story (16). See also 77.Google Scholar
  31. 2.
    Note (16) of this article refers to 27.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1966

Authors and Affiliations

  • Craig B. Brush

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