"An ardent empiricist, Diderot also took pride in questioning his own beliefs. In “Rameau’s Nephew,” Diderot gave life to a character who assailed the author’s deep-rooted humanism. One of the most memorable eccentrics in all of literature, the hedonistic protagonist preached the beauty of evil, the joys of social parasitism and the right to be a self-seeking individual.
This same ability to think beyond his own perspective also generated Diderot’s most prophetic work of fiction, “D’Alembert’s Dream,” a text that conjures up a godless world of speculative “genetic” manipulation and proto-evolutionary theory, 90 years before Darwin.
After rejecting Diderot for panthéonisation 100 years ago because of his atheism, the French now seem ready to bestow upon their countryman the high honor he has long deserved. No doubt Diderot himself would have been pleased. “Posterity is for the philosopher what the next world is for the man of religion,” he once wrote..."