Denis Diderot was a French philosopher,art critic, and writer. He was a prominent figure during theEnlightenmentand is best known for serving as co-founder, chief editor, and contributor to theEncyclopédiealong withJean le Rond d'Alembert.
Diderot's literary reputation during his lifetime rested primarily on his plays and his contributions to theEncyclopédie; many of his most important works, includingJacques the Fatalist,Rameau's Nephew,Paradox of the Actor, andD'Alembert's Dream, were published only after his death.
Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers(Encyclopedia, or a Systematic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts, and Crafts)was a generalencyclopediapublished inFrancebetween 1751 and 1772, with later supplements, revised editions, and translations. It had many writers, known as theEncyclopédistes. It was edited byDenis Diderotand, until 1759, co-edited byJean le Rond d'Alembert.
TheEncyclopédieis most famous for representing the thought of theEnlightenment. According to Denis Diderot in the article "Encyclopédie", theEncyclopédie's aim was "to change the way people think" and for people to be able to inform themselves and to know things.He and the other contributors advocated for thesecularizationof learning away from theJesuits.Diderot wanted to incorporate all of the world's knowledge into theEncyclopédieand hoped that the text could disseminate all this information to the public and future generations.It was also the first encyclopedia to include contributions from many named contributors, and it was the first general encyclopedia to describe themechanical arts.