Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert
Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz
Chapter 13: Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas Caritat de Condorcet (1743–1794)
Mathematics and Philosophy Condorcet is considered as the last of the eighteenth-century French philosophes who powerfully shaped the intellectual landscape in France and Europe. Born on 17 September 1743 in Ribemont, in the province of Picardie, he was first educated at the Jesuit school in Reims and the celebrated Collège de Navarre in Paris. Possessed of a talent for mathematics, he studied with the mathematician and philosophe Jean Le Rond d’Alembert (1717–1783) – the co-editor, with Denis Diderot (1713–1784), of the flagship of the French Enlightenment, the Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers (1751–72). He quickly gained the reputation of a prominent géomètre, his domains of predilection being integral calculus and probability theory. But as many scientists and philosophes of the time he had an encyclopaedic mind, and he showed a great interest in the “sciences morales et politiques” or “sciences sociales” (see, for example, Granger 1956; Baker 1975; Kintzler 1984; Crépel and Gilain 1989; McLean and Hewitt 1994). During the 1760s and early 1770s, he became a disciple and friend of Voltaire (1694–1778) and Turgot (1727–1781). He later published a celebrated Vie de M. Turgot (1786) – immediately translated into English (1787) and much appreciated by the British reformers – and a Vie de Voltaire (1789). A promising member of the clan of the Encyclopaedists, he was quickly elected at the Académie des Sciences (1769) – of which he became the secrétaire perpétuel in...
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