System of Nature

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The 1795 English translation cover of Holbach's System of Nature, the top-ranked "atheist's bible" of history, showing am enlightened woman uncovering "nature", previously shackled to the ground by Christianity, kings, and priests, whose cross, rosary beads, holy water, crown, and holy hat are being stepped on to get to nature.[1]

In famous publications, The System of Nature: Laws of the Moral and Physical World (AB:1) (CR:5) (LH:4) (TL:9), in French: Système de la nature, ou Des loix du monde physique et du monde moral, is a 1770 book by Baron Holbach, edited by Denis Diderot and Jacques Naigeon, wherein the purist and most-intelligent form of atheism known-to-date is presented.[2] The book was the culminating fruit of two decades of philosophical debate, dialogue, and testing at the Holbach salon.



In 1769, Holbach finished a draft of his System of Nature, which he showed to Denis Diderot. The title of the book is said be modeled on Lucretius' De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things) (60BC), a book which Holbach previous had translated into French for his children's education.[3]

Next, Holbach used his "secret printing method"; which is summarized as follows:

  1. Diderot revised, edited, and corrected some parts of System of Nature.[4]
  2. Diderot’s assigned his assistant Jacques Naigeon to review Holbach manuscripts and to “increase the dose of atheism”, when he does not find it sufficient. [5]
  3. The original manuscript was then re-copied by hand, so that Holbach could retain the original.
  4. The copyist was Naigeon’s brother, whose overt job was working as a food controller at Sedan, France, according to which part of his job required him to come to Paris each year, spend six months there, whereat he transcribed Holbach’s manuscripts.
  5. Naigeon’s brother then left France with the copied manuscript and had the book printed in Amsterdam, under the pseudonym of Jean Mirabaud, already deceased.
  6. The printed books were then smuggled back into France.

On 18 Aug 1770, System of Nature, under the pseudonym of "Jean Mirabaud" made its debut, or rather appearance, in France.[6]

In c.1771, Diderot, who ceased to exist in 1784, wrote a complete summary, chapter by chapter, of the work under the name of The True Meaning of the System of Nature (Abrégé du code de la nature); this was published in the 1820 edition.[4]

On 21 Jan 1789, Holbach died (destated), after which he was revealed as the true author.[7]

Book burning

The book was burned at the foot of the grand staircase of the palace, along with Sacred Contagion is also burned, along with four other of his works.[4] At the trial hearing for the sentencing of the book to the pyre, the Attorney General given some sort of speech which showed the public hatred for the philosophers, being described as a “cabal of scandalous atheists”.[6]


Holbach's System of Nature, came to be referred to as the: "Bible of Atheism" (Author, 1771; Anon 1798)[8] or “mechanical materialist’s Bible” (Svitak, 1968).

End matter


  1. Holbach, Baron. (1770). The System of Nature (translator: William Hodgson) (Image, pg. iv). Publisher, 1795.
  2. Holbach, Baron. (1770). System of Nature: Laws of the Moral and Physical World (translator: H.D. Robinson). Mendum, 1889.
  3. Blom, Philipp. (2010). A Wicked Company: Holbach’s Salon and the Forgotten Radicalism of the European Enlightenment (Amz). McClelland, 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Baron Holbach (French → English) – Wikipedia.
  5. Jacques-Andre Naigeon (French → English) – Wikipedia.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Svitak , Ivan. (1968). The Dialectic of Common Sense: the Master Thinkers (pg. 139). University Press, 1979.
  7. Sciuto, Ruggero; Nicoli, Laura. (2020). “Interview with Alan Kors: 250th Anniversary of d'Holbach's Système de la nature” (YT), Torch, Nov 26.
  8. Griffiths, George. (1798). “Metaphysical Philosophy”, The Monthly Review (pg. 449), Apr.


  • Gabe. (2012). “Book Review: the System of Nature by Baron d’Holbach” (YT), Mr. Gabe, Aug 31.

External links

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