He went down in history as a philosopher and educator who founded Encyclopedia, or a Systematic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts, and Crafts. The largest reference works of their century were published for thirty years, from 1751 to 1780. Among the authors are Voltaire, D'Alembert, Montesquieu, d’Holbach – the cream of the crop in science and education of that time. Denis Diderot was not only the heart and organizer of the Encyclopedia, as well as its executive editor, but an author of more than six thousand articles.
Although Diderot did not create his own philosophical theory, the encyclopedia put him on a par with the greatest thinkers of that time. At the invitation of Catherine II, Diderot visited Russia and worked out his stay with projects that, however, did not have the slightest chance to come true: serfdom, to for example, was canceled almost a hundred years after his visit to the Palmyra of the North. But communication with a recognized moral and scientific authority was flattering for the empress. She favored the scientist and generously endowed him financially. Always being in difficult financial circumstances, Diderot agreed to sell his private library to Catherine, but on condition that all the books remained with him in France, and at the same time, the empress paid Diderot a generous allowance as the curator of the library. Diderot's books arrived in Russia only after his death in 1784.
And yet, a lot of things in Russia are a memory of Denis Diderot. It was Denis Diderot who advised Catherine to entrust the creation of the Bronze Horseman to Etienne Maurice Falconet. The first educational institution in Russia for women, the Smolny Institute of Noble Maidens, was founded on the advice of Denis Diderot, as well as Rousseau and Voltaire. Another advice from Denis Diderot was used much later by the Bolsheviks – they moved the capital from St. Petersburg to Moscow. What does it have to do with Diderot? It was he who wrote to Catherine II that it is impractical to place the heart on your fingertips, i.e., the capital on the outskirts of the empire.