Jean-Baptiste de Boyer, Marquis d'Argens

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Marquis d'Argens

Jean-Baptiste de Boyer, Marquis d'Argens (June 24, 1704 - January 11, 1771) was a French philosopher and writer.


Boyer was born in Aix-en-Provence. An arch-opponent of the Catholic Church, intolerance and religious oppression, he had to flee his native France and his books were frequently denounced by the Inquisition. In 1724 he accompanied the French ambassador on a journey to Constantinople, where he lived for a year. After an adventurous youth, he was disinherited by his father. He then settled for a time in Amsterdam, where he wrote his famous Lettres juives (The Hague, 6 vols, 1738-1742), Lettres chinoises (The Hague, 6 vols, 1739-1742), and Lettres cabalistiques (2nd ed., 7 vols, 1769); also the Mémoires secrets de la république des lettres (7 vols, 1743-1748), afterwards revised and augmented as Histoire de l'esprit humain (Berlin, 14 vols, 1765-1768). He also wrote six novels, the best known of which is Thérèse Philosophe (1748). [1]

He was invited by Frederick the Great to his court where he spent the greater part of his career. He was appointed a Royal Chamberlain and Director of the Belles-Lettres section of the Academy. He married a Berlin actress, Mlle Cochois and had one daughter. D'Argens returned to France in 1769, and died near Toulon on January 11, 1771, aged 66.[1]

He was a friend of Voltaire, Pierre-Louis de Maupertuis, Leonhard Euler, Samuel Formey, Andreas Sigismund Marggraf, Charles-Louis de Beausobre, the Abbé de Prades, Casanova, Friedrich Nicolai and Moses Mendelssohn.



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