Thursday, March 09, 2006

Jean Meslier

"I would like, and this would be the last and most ardent of my wishes, I would like the last of the kings to be strangled with the guts of the last priest." --Jean Meslier (1664-1729)
Doug Ireland has a great post on the important and influential but virtually forgotten Jean Meslier, a 17th century priest turned revolutionary atheist. Meslier was the author of a "monumental diatribe against theism, superstition and corrupt state power." A translation of selections from Meslier's magnum opus, Mon Testament are available on line here and here. Ireland has written the introduction to an article in the most recent New Politics by Michel Onfray, the first attempt at a synthesis of Meslier's work by a major philosopher since Voltaire.

Superstition is on the march everywhere today. Part of the struggle to keep the hard won heritage of secularism will be to recover the nearly forgotten history of how we won it in the first place.

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