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Encyclopédie

ENCYCLOPÉDIE

ENCYCLOPÉDIE. Beginning as a modest business venture, the Encyclopédie was planned to be simply a French translation of Ephraim Chambers's Cyclopaedia, published in England in 1728. Entrusted to Jean Le Rond d'Alembert (17171783) and Denis Diderot (17131784), the project quickly took on far vaster proportions, becoming ultimately one of the greatest commercial and intellectual enterprises of early modern French culture.

The encyclopedists' goal was to make available to the greatest number of readers the most complete account possible of all current knowledge. The first volume of the work appeared in Paris in 1751. When the project was completed two decades later, in 1772, the encyclopedists had produced the most massive single reference work in Europe to date. The Encyclopédie ran to seventeen folio volumes containing 71,818 articles, eleven folio volumes of 2,885 plates, and five supplemental volumes, published in 1776 and 1777 under editors other than Diderot. Sold by subscription to a readership in France and throughout Europe that totaled at least 4,500 individuals, the Encyclopédie was the product of more than 150 collaborators who worked under the sole editorship of Diderot after d'Alembert withdrew from the project in 1758. The Encyclopédie met with significant opposition, primarily from the Jesuit order and the antiphilosophe movement. It was placed on the Catholic Church's Index librorum prohibitorum (Index of forbidden books), and on two occasions the crown revoked (but soon restored) the work's privilège or royal authorization to publish. Five subsequent editions, either reprints or revisions, were produced in Switzerland and Italy prior to the French Revolution of 1789, and roughly half of these 25,000 copies went to readers in France.

In philosophical terms, the Encyclopédie reflected the most powerful tenet of the European Enlightenment, the belief in human reason as an individual and innate critical faculty. The world the encyclopedists represented was thoroughly subjected to the rule of reason. It was knowable, able to be ordered and mastered by the rational mind. The Encyclopédie thus contributed to consolidating the reformist values of the Enlightenment by testifying to the belief in the progressive and beneficial results of rational inquiry into all sectors of human activity. In the area of technology, the articles and plates devoted to the "mechanical arts"including the crafts and trades, anatomy and surgery, the exact, natural, and military sciencesprovided a remarkably complete account of eighteenth-century French technology, in a style aimed at a relatively broad readership. In this way the Encyclopédie spurred the development of French industry, which was lagging behind that of Britain.

The work's full title was Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des arts, des sciences et des métiers. As an analytic or descriptive dictionary, it was designed to compile and transmit as complete a version as possible of all existing human knowledge; as an encyclopedia, it was to reveal how that knowledge could be rationally ordered and the interrelations of its various parts displayed. Articles were arranged in alphabetical order, and each article was classified according to the category of knowledge to which it belonged. An extensive cross-reference system made explicit the linkages between articles. These cross-references were often employed to produce a subversive critique of established positions through the ironic juxtaposition of apparently unrelated articles, such as religion and mythology. The article "Aius Locutius," for instance, which deals with a minor Roman god of speech, is referred to in another article on casuistry, which itself is linked to articles on certainty (certitude) and moral judgment (cas de conscience). This critique was part of the encyclopedists' overarching aim to have their readers think freely, to become "undeceived," as Diderot put it. For him, this critical thinking involved resisting any authority, whether divine or human. Thus, in the area of religion the encyclopedists tirelessly denounced fanaticism in the name of religious tolerance, attacked Christian doctrine and the Catholic Church and its institutions, and presented other beliefs more favorably. The encyclopedists reorganized the cognitive universe, rejecting the authority of all systems and institutions that claim to deliver up any absolute order of knowledge, and setting in their place more secular, empirical, and arbitrary ones, judged according to the values of technological productivity and social utility.

The best-known major contributors to the project were Diderot himself (with 10,000 articles), Louis de Jaucourt (17,395), d'Alembert (1,600), and Paul Thiry, baron d'Holbach (17231789) (425). Other significant contributors included Georges Louis Leclerc de Buffon (17071788), Louis-Jean-Marie Daubenton (17161800), Charles-Marie de La Condamine (17011774), Charles-Pinot Duclos (17041772), François Quesnay (16941774), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (17121778), and Anne Robert Jacques Turgot (17271781). Parisians, provincials, and foreigners, the encyclopedists were a heterogeneous group. They were not members of a revolutionary Third Estate, one of the three orders or "estates" that, along with that of the nobility and the clergy, reflected the political division of pre-Revolutionary France. Most were bourgeois, if not by source of income, then by lifestyle and by their conception of property and work. Jurists, doctors, professors, engineers, merchants, manufacturers, specialized technicians, upper civil servants, military officers, and philosophes, the encyclopedists played important roles in economic, cultural, and political institutions, from which they derived material benefits and prestige. This situation also allowed them a certain independence, both economic and intellectual, making it possible for them to imagine and promote other ways of thinking. Although the encyclopedists criticized arbitrary state power, they did not question the monarchical system.

See also Alembert, Jean Le Rond d' ; Buffon, Georges Louis Leclerc ; Diderot, Denis ; Dissemination of Knowledge ; Enlightenment ; Holbach, Paul Thiry, baron d' ; Index of Prohibited Books ; Philosophes ; Rousseau, Jean-Jacques .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Primary Source

Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des arts, des sciences, et des métiers. Edited by Denis Diderot and Jean Le Rond d'Alembert. Paris, 17511772.

Secondary Sources

Darnton, Robert. The Business of Enlightenment: A Publishing History of the Encyclopédie, 17751800. Cambridge, Mass., 1979.

Diderot Pictorial Encyclopedia of Trades and Industry. Edited by Charles Coulston Gillispie. 2 vols. New York, 1959.

Diderot, Denis. Encyclopedia: Selections by Diderot, D'Alembert, and a Society of Men of Letters. Translated by Nelly S. Hoyt and Thomas Cassirer. Indianapolis, 1965.

Kafker, Frank A. The Encyclopedists as a Group: A Collective Biography of the Authors of the Encyclopédie. Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century 345. Oxford, 1996.

Kafker, Frank A., and Serena Kafker. The Encyclopedists as Individuals: A Biographical Dictionary of the Authors of the Encyclopédie. Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century 257. Oxford, 1988.

Lough, John. The Encyclopédie. New York, 1971.

Wilson, Arthur M. Diderot. New York, 1972.

Daniel Brewer

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"Encyclopédie." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Encyclopédie." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Retrieved December 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/encyclopedie

encyclopedia

encyclopedia, compendium of knowledge, either general (attempting to cover all fields) or specialized (aiming to be comprehensive in a particular field).

Encyclopedias and Other Reference Books

Basically an encyclopedia differs from a dictionary in that a dictionary is fundamentally devoted to words and an encyclopedia offers information on various subjects, with data on and discussion of each subject identified. An almanac differs from an encyclopedia in that an almanac normally is issued periodically and includes ephemeral data applicable at the time of issue, while an encyclopedia is assembled from accumulated knowledge within a broader scope. An atlas is devoted to maps and charts.

Early Encyclopedias

Attempts at encompassing universal knowledge began with the brilliantly comprehensive works of Aristotle. Other classical writers tried to follow his example, and the Natural History of Pliny the Elder is sometimes called the first encyclopedia. Alexandrian scholars did some work of an encyclopedic nature in compiling their lengthy anthologies and summations of knowledge. The Asian encyclopedias, particularly the voluminous Chinese collections, were actually more in the nature of anthologies than reference works. In the Middle Ages various scholars drew up compendiums of knowledge; notable were the Etymologiae of Isidore of Seville, a curious mixture of fact and legend, and 13th-century works by Vincent of Beauvais, Roger Bacon, and Brunetto Latini.

Modern Encyclopedias

The modern type of encyclopedia—with alphabetical arrangement and frequently with bibliographies—is usually said to have been established by John Harris in his Lexicon technicum (1704). Perhaps the most renowned of all encyclopedias, the Encyclopédie, was completed in 1772 by Diderot and others in France. The first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica was published in three volumes (1768–71). It grew in size (to 32 volumes) and reputation over the years; despite its name, the encyclopedia has long been edited and published in the United States. In 2012 it announced that its 2010 printing of the 15th edition would be its last print edition.

The oldest German encyclopedia still being published is Brockhaus' Konversations-Lexikon, first issued from 1796 to 1808. On this, rather than on Ephraim Chambers's Cyclopaedia (1st ed. 1728), was based the British Chambers's Encyclopedia (1st ed. 1859–68). The famous Larousse Grand Dictionnaire universel du XIXème siècle français in 17 volumes was published from 1865 to 1888. The 30-volume Saudi Global Arabic Encyclopedia, the first modern encyclopedia in Arabic and with an Arab perspective, was published in 1997.

The first noteworthy American encyclopedia was The Encyclopedia Americana, edited by Francis Lieber (13 vol., 1829–33). Important American encyclopedias include Collier's Encyclopedia (24 vol., 1949–51) and Encyclopedia International (20 vol., 1963). Notable multivolume juvenile encyclopedias are The Book of Knowledge (1910), World Book Encyclopedia (1917), Britannica Junior (1934), Compton's Pictured Encyclopedia (1922), and Merit Students Encyclopedia (1967).

Since the advent of computer technology, encyclopedias have been made available in CD-ROM format (see compact disc), sometimes as part of a reference package; and as part of an on-line service. CD-ROM encyclopedias, which have been largely been superseded by on-line ones, offered multimedia enhancements, such as video and sound clips and animated illustrations; on-line encyclopedias especially are easily and frequently updated. All electronic encyclopedias make use of hypertext cross-references. Another product of the computer age is the Wikipedia, an Internet-based on-line encyclopedia (est. 2001) sponsored by a nonprofit corporation and written and edited collaboratively by volunteers (anyone may submit articles, additions, or corrections).

Some specialized encyclopedias are in many volumes, such as the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, the Encyclopedia of Islam, and the New Grove Dictionary of Music. Most specialized encyclopedias, however, are one volume or two. The one-volume general encyclopedia became popular in Europe early in the 20th cent., but the first comprehensive one-volume general encyclopedia in English was The Columbia Encyclopedia (1935), now in its sixth edition. A number of compact desk encyclopedias are also now available.

Bibliography

See E. P. Sheehy, Guide to Reference Books (annual supplement); R. L. Collison, Encyclopaedias: Their History throughout the Ages (2d ed. 1966); K. F. Kister, Kister's Best Encyclopedias (2d ed. 1994).

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Encyclopédie

Encyclopédie (äNsēklôpādē´), the work of the French Encyclopedists, or philosophes. The full title was Encyclopédie; ou, Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts, et des métiers. This work was originally planned as a translation of Ephraim Chambers's Cyclopedia (1st ed. 1728), and the first editor was the Abbé Gua de Malves. The project was abandoned because of disagreements, and Le Breton, the publisher, agreed to let Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert edit an entirely new work. With the aid of Quesnay, Montesquieu, Voltaire, J. J. Rousseau, Turgot, and others, the two editors produced the first volume in 1751, with a famous "preliminary discourse" signed by Alembert. The discourse indicated the aims of the project and then presented definitions and histories of science and the arts. The rational, secular emphasis of the whole volume infuriated the Jesuits, who attacked the work as irreligious and used their influence to convince the government to withdraw (1759) the official permit. Alembert resigned as editor. The project was able to continue, however, as a result of Diderot's perseverance and the support he received from the statesman Malesherbes. With the help of the chevalier de Jaucourt, Diderot brought the clandestine printing of the work to completion in 1772. Of the 28 volumes, 11 were devoted to plates illustrating the industrial arts; Diderot compiled this information and made the drawings. When the work was in page proof, Diderot discovered that deletions made by the printer had mutilated many articles containing liberal opinions. Despite this unofficial censorship the Encyclopédie championed the skepticism and rationalism of the Enlightenment. By 1780 a five-volume supplement and a two-volume index were added, compiled under other editors. The success of the Encyclopédie was immediate, and its influence was incalculable. Through its stress on scientific determinism and its attacks on legal, juridical, and clerical abuses, the Encyclopédie was a major factor in the intellectual preparation for the French Revolution.

See selections ed. by N. S. Hoyt and T. Cassirer (tr. 1965); R. N. Schwab et al., Inventory of Diderot's Encyclopédie (1971); J. Lough, The Encyclopédie (1971).

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encyclopedia

en·cy·clo·pe·di·a / enˌsīkləˈpēdēə/ (also chiefly Brit. en·cy·clo·pae·di·a) • n. a book or set of books giving information on many subjects or on many aspects of one subject and typically arranged alphabetically.

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"encyclopedia." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"encyclopedia." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/encyclopedia-0

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encyclopedia

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