Bayle, Pierre (1647-1706), French philosopher and critic, born near Pamiers, in Ariège. Although born a Protestant, he was educated at the Jesuit College in Toulouse. He converted to Roman Catholicism in 1669, but in 1670 he again adopted Protestantism.

In 1675 he became professor of philosophy at the Protestant academy of Sedan; in 1681 he was appointed independent professor of philosophy and history at the Protestant academy of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, receiving his salary from the city.
His first well-known work was Pensées diverses sur la comète de 1680 (Diverse Thoughts on the Comet of 1680; 1682), a rationalistic discussion of the widespread fears aroused by the great comet. He was dismissed from his post at Rotterdam in 1693 because of the suspicion that he had written a tract expressing religious
skepticism. He then compiled his Dictionnaire historique ET critique (Historical and Critical Dictionary, 1697). The skeptical tone of this work, which strongly advocated freedom of thought on all subjects, had great influence on the French Encyclopedists and the rationalist philosophers of the 18th century.