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Former featured article candidateDenis Diderot is a former featured article candidate. Please view the links under Article milestones below to see why the nomination failed. For older candidates, please check the archive.
Article milestones
July 31, 2006Featured article candidateNot promoted

older comments[edit]

Hear ye, Hear ye! Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your bandwidth...

I hereby propose to elect Denis Diderot patron saint of Wikipedia!

Thank you, Joshua Zeidner

I didn't know Wikipedia was a catholic project, but if somebody should be patron saint, it should be Diderot. Gangulf 09:29, 1 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I suppose he didn't live long enough ago to be a Lutheran saint. But I think our contributor has in mind a "secular saint", certainly a notion that would have please Diderot far more than these other options. -- Jmabel 17:22, Aug 1, 2004 (UTC)
So how do we make him our Wikipedia patron saint. -- Gangulf 17:48, 1 Aug 2004 (UTC)
If we want to follow the Roman Catholic approach, first we will need a Wikipedian pope, some Wikipedian cardinals (one of whom will play devil's advocate), etc. I'd rather just work on the encyclopedia, myself. -- Jmabel 17:54, Aug 1, 2004 (UTC)
I thought you might like to be a cardinal :-) Gangulf 18:11, 1 Aug 2004 (UTC)
No thanks, although I was once a member of Cardinal Key, the service organization at my alma mater, Wesleyan University. Q: "Who exactly is Cardinal Key? A: "The archbishop of Saigon. -- Jmabel 18:17, Aug 1, 2004 (UTC)
So do we need a papus to have a saint? Diderot, patron saint of Wikipedia!

Re PATRON SAINT. Excellent idea. Wikipedia is exactly what Diderot had in mind: Finished with all the stupid monks copying blindly information that they neither understood nor cared about. A new world. A Republic of Letters. Quality reigning supreme. Thousands of intelligent people discussing freely their ideas, writing commentaries only on topics they had first-hand knowledge of: books they had read, pictures they had seen, spectacles they had attended, theories they had worked out, experiments they had performed, etc etc. It wasn't doable in the 18th century, but now we have it: WIKIPEDIA! --BZ(Bruno Zollinger) 08:17, 10 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]

It is done. Pontiff Greg Bard 09:44, 15 October 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Link removal[edit]

Jmabel, I actually meant that inclusion quite seriously. They've both created the same type of thing, both revolutionary in their day, and both revolutionary for similar reasons i.e. the linking. Diderot linked issues in his enycyclopedia in a way that was apparently quite shocking, and I can't think of any examples, but it would be things like, under Church, see Oppression. There was a free flow of ideas that was unheard of, and a linking of issues that was threatening to the establishment. I see Wikipedia in a very similar light. Do you really think it's too self-indulgent? SlimVirgin (talk) 05:25, Jun 16, 2005 (UTC)

The short answer is "yes".
Sitting there as a blind link in the external links suggests that there is further information closely related to this topic to be found there. I certainly think that linking Jimbo from encyclopedia would be reasonable. Might there be a category they both belong in? Sure. But that link? Ask yourself: would a reference work unrelated to Wikipedia make that link? Would Britannica link from Diderot to something Britannica-related? In both cases, I think not. And I don't see any links here to other comparable figures in the intervening 200 years. -- Jmabel | Talk 21:27, Jun 19, 2005 (UTC)

What Diderot produced was a unique and revolutionary way of providing information, and that's what Jimbo has done. They'll both be remembered for those achievements for as long as people care about the way information dissemination developed. I believe an honest Encyclopaedia Britannica (or any other) would make the link between the Encyclopédie and Wikipedia, but anyway, we're not here to copy other reference works. The linking to Jimbo Wales is exactly the kind of non-linear linking Diderot would have approved of! Which other comparable figures were you thinking of? SlimVirgin (talk) 01:39, Jun 20, 2005 (UTC)

I don't think this discussion is worth continuing. We obviously disagree and will continue to disagree, but the link is no big deal. If you want to restore it, I won't remove it again, though I will continue to think it is self-indulgent on the part of Wikipedia to have it. -- Jmabel | Talk 16:57, Jun 22, 2005 (UTC)

Library sold twice?[edit]

His heirs sold his vast library to Catherine II, who had it deposited at the Russian National Library.

The sentence above that statement however tells of him selling the library to Catherine II! Was it sold twice or weren't the books actually just moved as she had bought them and he had looked after them until his death? I'm a bit fuzzy on this but never heard of the heirs selling the books the second time. --Stalfur 01:42, 11 November 2005 (UTC)[reply]


I just reverted an anonymous edit that Diderot was not only a noted philosopher and writer, but a gynecologist. It may be true, but I didn't find confirmation of it with some Googling, so until a citation appears, I think let's keep it out. -GTBacchus(talk) 01:49, 19 April 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Anal Leakage[edit]

The article states that Diderot died of Anal Leakage (sic). This can't be true; even if it is, I suspect there is a more scientific term? --Benn M. (talk) 09:03, 9 January 2008 (UTC)[reply]


Actually, I found that first discussion (about making Diderot a "saint") quite humorous (although maybe that had a serious meaning). Maybe you should consider putting that in Meta-Wiki Category:Humor. lol May his spirit continue to bless this encyclopedia (and maybe Jimbo, too. lol again).

-- 14:19, 23 June 2006 (UTC)[reply]


Why were both La Religieuse (1760) and Jacques le fataliste et son maître (1771-1778) published after his death? And why precisely 1796 for both novels? Anyone? --Jahsonic 10:07, 11 July 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Actually, according to my French copy of Jacques (1997 ed.), Diderot was still reworking his novel between 1780 and 1783 (i.e. a year before his death), although he did allow it to circulate in manuscript (both Goethe and Schiller had read it while he was still alive). I'd hazard a guess he was just addicted to revising his works and didn't want to send them to the printer before they were perfect. His death put a stop to all that revision. Why they took ten years to reach the press, I don't know. I'm not sure whether the French Revolution coming in 1789 had any effect on matters either. --Folantin 16:19, 15 July 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks --Jahsonic 16:29, 15 July 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Jacques le Fataliste[edit]

Re EMULATION. ...in emulation of Laurence Sterne..., the article states. But Jacques is a running commentary (nearly 20 years of "gonflements successifs", as Chouillet calls them) on Sterne's magnum opus. Uncle Toby and Corporal Trim are part of Diderot's novel. Diderot even discusses right in the novel itself the possibility that Sterne might be emulating him, Diderot (some professors of literature do not even understand a joke when they are the butt of it). Sterne, of course, never thought for a second that his friend was trying in any way to emulate him. But that was the 18th century. Another galaxy... --BZ(Bruno Zollinger) 08:33, 4 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]

What makes the Lettre sur les aveugles interesting.[edit]

Re UNDIGESTED. What makes the "Lettre sur les aveugles" interesting, the article tells us, is its presentation, in a distinct though undigested form, of the theory of variation and natural selection. Frankly, I don't see which passage or passages in this or any other of Diderot's essays could - by any stretch of the imagination - be interpreted as a presentation of the theory of natural selection, digested or undigested. Well, maybe my French isn't good enough...--BZ(Bruno Zollinger) 18:08, 5 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Re POSSE. Diderot begins his essay with a "quote": possunt, nec posse videntur. If we look this up in Virgil's Aeneid (V, 231) we find that Diderot changed a QUIA into a NEC, thereby subtly altering Virgil's meaning from something like "They are strong, because they believe themselves to be strong" to something like "They are strong, although it doesn't look that way". Diderot's "error" has, of course, not escaped the notice of the experts in the field and is even today the subject of heated debates. But all the experts fighting about the correct translation of "posse", "videntur", etc have apparently neglected to read a bit further. Had they done so, they would have found out what Diderot really wanted to convey: nec or quia, no difference; the members of the "strong" crew in question are the losers of the race.
No wonder that this was for the authorities la dernière goutte d'eau qui a fait répandre le vase ( l'abbé Trublet, quoted in A.-M.Wilson, Diderot, sa vie et son oeuvre, Paris, Robert Laffont, Bouquins, 1985).--BZ(Bruno Zollinger) 15:08, 6 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Re TITLE. Not enough attention has been paid to the original title of the Lettre: Sur les aveugles, à l'usage de ceux qui voient. A provocation, as Marian Hobson writes, that not only led Réaumur to demand the lettre de cachet but left no doubt in the mind of the contemporary readers about what kind of blindness was the real subject of the essay. Si un homme qui n'a vu que pendant un jour ou deux se trouvait confondu chez un peuple d'aveugles, il faudrait qu'il prît le parti de se taire, ou celui de passer pour un fou. Diderot tells us that whatever an honest man may say or do, he will not be able to convince the morally blind that their words have no meaning and can therefore be neglected. They would just go on teaching and preaching, thinking that he is crazy.--BZ(Bruno Zollinger) 15:01, 7 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Edit to Denis Diderot Article.[edit]

Greetings. I wanted to ask for an elaboration of your edit to the Denis Diderot article regarding his essay Regrets on Parting with My Old Dressing Gown inspiring sermons. While some references to such inspiration would be helpful, did you edit it because you think its not true or because you think it's not appropriate to the article? I would argue that since Diderot's most famous work is encyclopedic and he wrote sermons himself early in his career, the comment makes sense for this particular article. I didn't want to revert the edit, however, if you have a more substantial argument than my somewhat etheral one.... Why is it wrong to point out that the essay influenced other essays but not sermons? TIA for your comments. Geeman 01:21, 2 September 2006 (UTC)[reply]

In answer to your question, given Diderot's well-known vociferous atheism, I doubt the essay was the direct cause of many sermons. More importantly, however, he was a pretty noxious anti-clerical figure, and the mention of sermons appears to be an ironic reference, perhaps asserting his superiority (even the clerics have to follow him!), and thus inappropriate. Best, Gabrielthursday 20:27, 4 September 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Thank you for the clarification. In the absence of an actual reference to sermons inspired by Diderot I'm going to leave the edit alone, though I do think it is extremely likely that sermons were based upon his ideas. After all, a "sermon" is as likely to discuss things that disagree with the dogma as things that agree with it if only to voice the nature and specifics of the counter-argument. However, even though I am certain such sermons were written/delivered I have no actual texts of such speeches to reference, so no factual basis to change the language of the article.
OK, I just found a couple of sermons that reference (or are based upon) Diderot's essay, so I've reverted the opening text to include the fact that it has inspired such efforts. Both the links here, however, are to pretty modern sermons, but I don't think that should necessarily disqualify the text. http://www.firstparishinlincoln.org/Stuff_Sermon/page2.html and http://www.firstuunashville.org/news/sermons/consumption.htm --Geeman 05:31, 6 September 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Re WELL-KNOWN. Above, a user talks of Diderot's well-known vociferous atheism as given. In Europe, as you will of course know, Diderot's views are seen in quite a different light. His attitude is in Marian Hobson's words loin d'être celle d'un athéisme franc et vulgaire, i.e. far from any open atheism, and much more so from a "vociferous" one. Or take Richard Glauser who sums it up in his groundbreaking essay Diderot et le problème de Molyneux (Études philosophiques 1999, p.291-327) as an oscillation between deism, atheism, and scepticism. This raises some interesting questions: How come that such a warped view of Diderot's thinking is "given" in America? And by whom was it "given"? Also, by whom is it "well-known" in America, and when and how did this all come about?--BZ(Bruno Zollinger) 08:29, 12 September 2006 (UTC)[reply]

I think that was more one person's opinion rather than an expression of a generalized American opinion. The reality of American attitudes towards Diderot is, of course, much less happy. It might be summed up thusly: "Didawho?" :) Geeman 10:24, 12 September 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Category: Erotica writers?[edit]

That doesn't sound right, and nothing in the article suggests such a thing. I'm removing the category. If I'm mistaken, my apologies... but I would like to see a source for his having written erotica. (Diderotica?) Dpbsmith (talk) 16:10, 4 December 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Re DIDEROTICA. Removerotica? The article does mention a volume of "bawdy" stories. And then, of course, there are some French people who think that the Religieuse is erotica. But you're right, this is not the French Wikipedia.--BZ(Bruno Zollinger) 09:35, 5 December 2006 (UTC)[reply]
The category would have been added because of Les Bijoux Indiscrets. One book I read described the stories as 'pornographic' (interestingly enough it was these stories that launched his literary career). Currently I think that the category should be added again, though I'll do a little more research before acting. Galanskov 23:39, 18 January 2007 (UTC)[reply]
Sorry about the belated response. I took a look through a couple books and I'd say that he can be described as an erotica writer. His works feature many sexual references, and while this is not itself sufficient cause for calling his works erotica, their particularly graphic nature qualifies him for entry into the category. Galanskov 00:35, 15 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]
Is it possible to ask you to cite examples without sounding (or, in fact, being...) prurient? Geeman 00:43, 27 May 2007 (UTC)[reply]

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Birthyear of (Marie-)Angélique Diderot-Vandeul[edit]

Several sources (Wikidata, viaf, summarizing other sources) have September 1753, not 1743, for her birth, so, confused? ELSchissel (talk) 10:43, 22 June 2023 (UTC)[reply]