Denis Diderot (October 5, 1713 – July 31, 1784) was a French philosopher and writer. He was a prominent figure during the Enlightenment and is best known for serving as chief editor of and contributor to the Encyclopédie.
Diderot also contributed to literature, notably with Jacques le fataliste et son maître (Jacques the Fatalist and His Master), which emulated Laurence Sterne in challenging conventions regarding novels, their structure and content, while also examining philosophical ideas about free will. Diderot is also known as the author of the dialogue, Le Neveu de Rameau (Rameau's Nephew) upon which many articles and sermons about consumer desire have been based. His articles included many topics of the Enlightenment.
Denis Diderot was born in the eastern French city of Langres and commenced his formal education in the Lycée Louis le Grand. In 1732, he earned a master of arts degree in philosophy. He abandoned the idea of entering the clergy and decided instead to study law. His study of law was short-lived; in 1734, Diderot decided instead to become a writer. Because of his refusal to enter one of the learned professions, he was disowned by his father, and for the next ten years he lived a rather bohemian existence.