Klod Helvetius

Klod Helvetius

French philosopher, prominent representative of the Enlightenment
Date of Birth: 31.01.1715
Country: France

Biography of Claude Helvétius

Claude Adrien Helvétius was born on January 31, 1715, in Paris, France. He was a French philosopher and a prominent figure of the Enlightenment era. Helvétius was born into a family of court physicians and initially pursued a career as a financier, influenced by his father's desire for him to become a tax official. However, despite obtaining the position of a tax collector, which brought him considerable income, Helvétius soon became disillusioned with this work and eventually abandoned it.

After leaving his career as a financier, Helvétius dedicated himself fully to philosophical and literary pursuits. He frequented Parisian salons for several years, where he conceived the idea of opening his own salon, where educated and intelligent individuals could engage in meaningful conversations. It was in Helvétius's salon that many people who later formed the renowned society of encyclopedists gathered.

Helvétius's first published work was his book "De l'Esprit" ("On the Mind"), which he worked on for over 20 years. This book caused a scandal with its controversial ideas and was condemned to be burned in respectable circles in Paris. The author himself had to disown it twice. The condemnation of "De l'Esprit" also influenced the decision to ban the "Encyclopedia," in which Helvétius was one of the most active participants.

According to Helvétius's views, matter is merely a word denoting properties. In his theory, the surrounding world was understood as objectively existing, infinite, and constantly in motion. Regarding human knowledge, Helvétius leaned towards the belief that it has a sensual-empirical basis. He derived reason from sensibility and considered consciousness to be the highest stage of understanding nature, emphasizing the connection between the development of consciousness and people's labor activities.

Like other Enlightenment thinkers, Helvétius had an unwavering faith in the boundless possibilities of human reason and knowledge. He divided human errors into two categories: natural errors, which result from ignorance, and acquired errors, which arise from following false ideas. Helvétius attempted to create a "science of morality." According to him, the two senses of love for pleasure and aversion to suffering give rise to a third sense of self-love. He regarded self-love as the primary impulse for all human actions.

Helvétius's activities played a significant role in the ideological preparation for the French bourgeois revolution in the late 18th century, the ideological groundwork for early 19th-century utopian socialism, and the development of philosophical thought.