The System of Nature, known as the Atheists’ Bible, is the most radical expression of atheist materialism to come from the eighteenth century milieu of the philosophes in Paris. D’Holbach (1723-1789) was a central figure of the French intellectual enlightenment, contributing prolifically to Diderot’s Encyclopedie, and undertaking numerous translations of British free thought. His intention in this work was to extend the stand of his contemporaries against religion and the church into a fully-fledged system which would replace religion as a foundation for belief. In so doing he both outstripped the polemic of his earlier work, and adopted a position which was considered radical even among the illustrious and subversive circle of the philosophes. Volume One represents the programmatic elaboration of d’Holbach’s belief in the necessaary and immutable laws of nature as the only possible explanation for physical events.
Denis Diderot’s contribution to The System of Nature is decisive and well-established, lending an authority and style to the work that is evident throughout. This edition is fully modernised, with all foreign language quotations newly translated and an introduction by Michael Bush.