The Message of Bayle's Last Title: Providence and Toleration in the Entretiens de Maxime et de Thémiste


In this paper I uncover the identities of the interlocutors of Pierre Bayle's Entretiens de Maxime et de Themiste, and I show the significance of these identities for a proper understanding of the Entretiens and of Bayle's thought more generally. Maxime and Themiste represent the philosophers of late antiquity, Maximus of Tyre and Themistius. Bayle brought these philosophers into dialogue in order to suggest that the problem of evil, though insoluble by means of speculative reason, could be dissolved and thus avoided through mutual toleration. I conclude by comparing Bayle's "theodicy of toleration" with Kant's notion of authentic theodicy.