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French Nicolas DE CONDORCET

born Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas DE CARITAT DE CONDORCET

French philosopher, mathematician, and early political scientist

Source :  Jacques CHANIS

Born: on September 14, 1743 in Ribemont, France
Died: on March 28, 1794 in Bourg-la-Reine, France


Condorcet was born in Ribemont, Aisne, and descended from the ancient family of Caritat, who took their title from the town of Condorcet in Dauphiné, of which they were long-time residents. Fatherless at a young age, he was raised by his devoutly religious mother. He was educated at the Jesuit College in Reims and at the Collège de Navarre in Paris, where he quickly showed his intellectual ability, and gained his first public distinctions in mathematics. When he was sixteen, his analytical abilities gained the praise of Jean le Rond d'Alembert and Alexis Clairaut; soon, Condorcet would study under d'Alembert.

From 1765 to 1774, he focused on science. In 1765, he published his first work on mathematics entitled Essai sur le calcul intégral, which was very well received, launching his career as a respected mathematician. He would go on to publish many more papers, and on 25 February 1769, he was elected to the Académie royale des Sciences (French Royal Academy of Sciences).

In 1772, he published another paper on integral calculus which was widely hailed as a groundbreaking paper in several domains. Soon after, he met Jacques Turgot, a French economist, and the two became friends. Turgot was to be an administrator under King Louis XV in 1772, and became Controller-General of Finance under Louis XVI in 1774.

Condorcet was recognized worldwide and worked with such famous scientists as Leonhard Euler and Benjamin Franklin. He soon became an honorary member of many foreign academies and philosophic societies notably the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (1785), in Germany, Imperial Russia, and the United States.

His political ideas, however, many of them in continuity with Turgot's, were criticized heavily in the English-speaking world, most notably by John Adams, who wrote two of his principal works of political philosophy to oppose Turgot and Condorcet's unicameral legislature and radical democracy.

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See Also :

- Category Author, Philosopher