Skip to main content

The controversial origins of the Encyclopedia - Addison Anderson

449,413 Views

6,206 Questions Answered

TEDEd Animation

Let’s Begin…

The first encyclopedia contained 70,000 entries and over 20,000,000 words. It was broken into 35 volumes written over the course of 3 decades. It was also banned by Louis XV and Pope Clement XIII. But why was this encyclopedia so controversial, and who wrote it in the first place? Addison Anderson recounts the controversial origins of the first encyclopedia.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

Check out the Encyclopedia of Diderot and d’Alembert as translated from French! Try a search on any topic and see what comes up. Interested in participating in its translation even further? Click here and get involved. Want to read the work in French? Click here and find articles on the work and supplementary writing from the time period.

Want to know a little bit more about Diderot himself? and read about his youth, marriage, and career. Diderot’s 300 birthday was celebrated in 2013. Read this article from the New York Times about him: Diderot, an American Exemplar? Bien Sur! NPR’s Weekend Edition has a contribution about Diderot and the French Enlightenment: At 300, Encyclopedia Pioneer May Yet Get A Hero’s Burial.” Ever wonder what Diderot looked like? Take a look at a painting of Denis Diderot at the Louvre online.

Interested in Diderot’s entry on Aguaxima? Take a moment and read it here and contemplate exactly the point he was trying to make. What do you think?

Next Section »

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Addison Anderson
  • Animator Patrick Smith
  • Composer Stephen LaRosa
  • Sound Designer Stephen LaRosa
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

More from Reading Between the Lines