The appearance of this comet caused so many panicked inquiries to be made of Pierre Bayle, one of the Enlightenment's greatest thinkers, that he decided to formally respond to them, hence the present work, which first appeared in 1682. The book's principle task was to undermine the influence of "superstition" in political life, and it was here that Bayle made the notorious suggestion, unique in the history of political thought until then, that a decent society of atheists is possible in principle. There is no other English translation of this book in print -- the only other version was printed in 1708. This translation is based on a recently revised critical edition of the complete French text and includes a substantial interpretive essay that both elucidates the arguments of the work and indicates the importance of Bayle in the history of the modern Enlightenment.
Peter Abélard was a medieval French scholastic philosopher, theologian, and preeminent logician. The story of his affair with and love for Heloise has become legendary. Héloïse d'Argenteuil was a French nun, writer, scholar, and abbess, best known for her love affair and correspondence with Peter Abélard.