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Pierre Bayle, the Rights of the Conscience, the “Remedy” of Toleration

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Pierre Bayle (1647–1706) is often considered one of the staunchest defenders of toleration, especially in the domain of religion. His Commentaire philosophique, published in 1686, one year after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, argued for a broad idea of toleration, to be extended with no exceptions to all sects and religions. However, his thought can hardly be reduced to an exaltation of the “rights of the conscience,” for he realized very soon that such an exaltation risks bringing forth religious fanatism, which in turn is the cause of religious wars and acts of violence. Toleration, in these conditions, is only a political remedy for the sickness of the human mind.
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Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: Turin University, Department of Humanities, Via Galileo Ferraris, 109, 13100 Vercelli, Italy

Publication date: 1997-03-01

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