Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Helvetius, Claude Adrien (1715-71), French philosopher, was born in Paris, and was a son of a doctor who had attended both Louis XIV. and Louis XV. He was trained to be a financier, and from 1738 to 1750, when he resigned, held a farmer-generalship. His thoughts, however, early turned to philosophy and literature, and even as a boy he was a student of Locke. Though he held the post of chamberlain to the queen, he was but seldom at court, and passed the last twenty years of his life almost entirely at his estate at Vore, in La Perche. He was a popular landlord, and did many kind acts, especially relieving those who had been ruined by the exactions of the farmers-general. As one of the Encyclopaedists he was intimate with Voltaire, Diderot, and D'Alembert, and was fond of getting up what he called an ideahunt (chasse aux idees) by propounding to a company of his friends some startling paradox. He visited England and Prussia a few years before his death. His chief work was called De I'Esprit, and appeared in 1758. Another work, De I'Homme, was published a year after his death. Editions of his collected works appeared in 1796 and 1818.