Jean Meslier (1664-1729) served as a Catholic priest for 40 years, but after his death was discovered to have written the very first book-length philosophical essay promoting atheism.
Remarkable for its era, his 633-page Testament shows us that Jean Meslier “invented a radical atheism, proposed a hedonist ethic, formulated an immanent ontology, constructed his libertarian politics and gave them a communalist and internationalist concept, thought of a feminism of action, anticipated the battle against speciesism, erected modern materialism, unmasked the Cartesian deceit, sketched the revolutionary concept of 1789, [and] called for the necessity of intellectual critics.”1
Angry, precise, logical, and eminently quotable, the Testament of Jean Meslier is a revelation that came centuries before the world was ready for it. It is the ultimate New Atheist book of 1729.
I’ll be blogging my way through the first English translation (released 2009), quoting my favorite parts and commenting on Meslier’s ideas.
- Purpose and Message
- The Undercover Atheist Priest
- Toward a Better World
- Religions are Human Inventions
- Corrupted Scriptures
(more to come)
- From Michael Onfray’s preface to the Testament, English translation. [↩]
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