Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas Condorcet

Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas Condorcet

French mathematician, economist, publicist and philosopher
Date of Birth: 17.09.1743
Country: France

  1. Contributions to Mathematics and Science
  2. Involvement in Social Sciences and Politics
  3. Political Career and Controversy
  4. Final Works and Death

Biography of Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat, Marquis de Condorcet

Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat, Marquis de Condorcet (1743-1794) was a French mathematician, economist, publicist, and philosopher of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. He was born on September 17, 1743, in Ribemont, France. Despite his aristocratic background, Condorcet chose to pursue a career in science instead of the military or the church.

Contributions to Mathematics and Science

Condorcet gained recognition for his mathematical abilities at a young age. His dissertation on integral calculus, presented at the age of 16, titled "Du calcul intégral" (1765), was highly esteemed by D'Alembert. He was elected as a member of the Academy of Sciences after the publication of his work "Essais d'Analyse" (1768) and later became its permanent secretary in 1777. He also wrote renowned biographies of 17th-century scientists and contemporaries, such as "Éloges des académiciens... morts depuis 1666 jusqu'en 1699" (1773).

Involvement in Social Sciences and Politics

Under the influence of his close friends Voltaire and Turgot, for whom he wrote biographies, Condorcet developed an interest in the social sciences. His skills as an economist were recognized when Turgot became the Minister of Finance and Condorcet himself became the chief inspector of the mint. In 1785, he published a work on the application of analysis to the problem of majority voting decisions, titled "Essai sur l'application de l'analyse à la probabilité des décisions rendues à la pluralité des voix."

Political Career and Controversy

In 1791, Condorcet was elected to the Legislative Assembly from Paris and soon became its secretary. He participated in the reform of the education system, the drafting of several declarations, and the development of the Girondin version of the constitution. He voted against the death penalty for Louis XVI. However, he was accused of conspiracy and sentenced to death by the Jacobins, his opponents in the National Convention. Condorcet went into hiding in a secret refuge in Paris in 1793.

Final Works and Death

During his nine months in hiding, Condorcet managed to write a significant work titled "Esquisse d'un tableau historique des progrès de l'esprit humain" (1795), which outlined his vision of the progress of human reason, virtue, and the limitless improvement and progress of humanity. This work had a profound influence on Saint-Simon and Comte. On March 27, 1794, Condorcet was arrested and placed in a tavern in Bourg-la-Reine, where he died, presumably from exhaustion or poison, on March 29, 1794. The National Convention, which had condemned Condorcet, later decided to publish his final work.