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Claude Adrien Helvétius (26 January or 26 February 1715 (sources differ) – 26 December 1771) was a French philosopher and littérateur.

Claude Adrien Helvétius was born in Paris, France, and was descended from a family of physicians, originally surnamed Schweitzer (literally "Swissman"; Latinized as Helvétius). His grandfather introduced the use of ipecacuanha; his father was first physician to Marie Leszczyńska, queen of France. Claude Adrien was trained for a financial career, apprenticed to his maternal uncle in Caen, but he occupied his spare time with poetry. Aged twenty-three, at the queen's request, he was appointed as a farmer-general, a tax-collecting post worth 100,000 crowns a year. Thus provided for, he proceeded to enjoy life to the utmost, with the help of his wealth and liberality, his literary and artistic tastes - he attended, for example, the progressive Club de l'Entresol. As he grew older, he began to seek more lasting distinctions, stimulated by the success of Pierre Louis Maupertuis as a mathematician, of Voltaire as a poet, and of Montesquieu as a philosopher. His wife, Anne-Catherine de Ligniville, Madame Helvétius, maintained a salon attended by the leading figures of the Enlightenment for over five decades.

In 1758, Helvétius published his philosophical magnum opus, a work called De l'esprit (On Mind). Its atheistic, utilitarian and egalitarian doctrines raised a public outcry and Helvétius was forced to issue several retractions.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Claude Helvetius."
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