Advocate of Public Knowledge
Denis Diderot (1713-1784) was a crucial figure to the age of Enlightenment both in France and globally, who is best remembered for his role as editor of the Encyclopédie. Diderot was a practicing philosopher and écrivain (writer) throughout his life, and later took up art criticism. The eighteenth-century has been compared to an airplane runway on which scientific, artistic, and theoretic innovations were landed, bringing knowledge to the public sphere. This ultimately paved the way for the French revolution and, on a global scale, introduced early ideals of modernity. Many of these precedents were arguably established by Diderot’s enthusiasm for the dissipation of knowledge to the public sphere and commitment to his role in the compilation and editing of the Encyclopédie.