52 Facts About Condorcet


Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat, Marquis of Condorcet, known as Nicolas de Condorcet, was a French philosopher and mathematician.

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Condorcet's ideas, including support for a liberal economy, free and equal public instruction, constitutional government, and equal rights for women and people of all races, have been said to embody the ideals of the Age of Enlightenment, of which he has been called the "last witness, " and Enlightenment rationalism.

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Condorcet died in prison after a period of hiding from the French Revolutionary authorities.

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Condorcet was born in Ribemont, descended from the ancient family of Caritat, who took their title from the town of Condorcet in Dauphine, of which they were long-time residents.

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Condorcet was educated at the Jesuit College in Reims and at the College de Navarre in Paris, where he quickly showed his intellectual ability and gained his first public distinctions in mathematics.

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Condorcet soon became an honorary member of many foreign academies and philosophic societies, including the American Philosophical Society, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in Prussia and Russia.

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In 1774, Condorcet was appointed inspector general of the Paris mint by Turgot.

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From this point on, Condorcet shifted his focus from the purely mathematical to philosophy and political matters.

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Condorcet supported the ideals embodied by the newly formed United States, and proposed projects of political, administrative and economic reforms intended to transform France.

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Consequently, Condorcet submitted his resignation as Inspector General of the Monnaie, but the request was refused, and he continued serving in this post until 1791.

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Condorcet later wrote Vie de M Turgot, a biography which spoke fondly of Turgot and advocated Turgot's economic theories.

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Condorcet continued to receive prestigious appointments: in 1777, he became Permanent Secretary of the Academie des Sciences, holding the post until the abolition of the Academie in 1793; and, in 1782, secretary of the Academie francaise.

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In 1785, Condorcet published his Essay on the Application of Analysis to the Probability of Majority Decisions, one of his most important works.

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Paper outlines a generic Condorcet method, designed to simulate pair-wise elections between all candidates in an election.

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Condorcet disagreed strongly with the alternative method of aggregating preferences put forth by Jean-Charles de Borda .

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Condorcet was one of the first to systematically apply mathematics in the social sciences.

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In 1781, Condorcet wrote a pamphlet, Reflections on Negro Slavery, in which he denounced slavery.

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In 1786, Condorcet worked on ideas for the differential and integral calculus, giving a new treatment of infinitesimals – a work which apparently was never published.

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Condorcet took a leading role when the French Revolution swept France in 1789, hoping for a rationalist reconstruction of society, and championed many liberal causes.

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Condorcet was not affiliated with any political party but counted many friends among the Girondins.

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Condorcet distanced himself from them during the National Convention due to his distaste for their factionalism.

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Condorcet advocated women's suffrage for the new government, writing an article for Journal de la Societe de 1789, and by publishing De l'admission des femmes au droit de cite in 1790.

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Condorcet was on the Constitution Committee and was the main author of the Girondin constitutional project.

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Condorcet criticized the new work, and as a result, he was branded a traitor.

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Condorcet went to seek refuge at the house of Jean-Baptiste Suard, a friend of his with whom he had resided in 1772, but he was refused on the basis that he would be betrayed by one of their residents.

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Jean-Pierre Brancourt claims that Condorcet was killed with a mixture of Datura stramonium and opium.

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Condorcet was symbolically interred in the Pantheon in 1989, in honour of the bicentennial of the French Revolution and Condorcet's role as a central figure in the Enlightenment.

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Condorcet's coffin was empty as his remains, originally interred in the common cemetery of Bourg-la-Reine, were lost during the nineteenth century.

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In 1786 Condorcet married Sophie de Grouchy, who was more than twenty years his junior.

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Condorcet's was intelligent and well educated, fluent in both English and Italian.

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The Condorcet-O'Connors published a revised edition between 1847 and 1849.

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Condorcet's work was mainly focused on a quest for a more egalitarian society.

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Condorcet denounced patriarchal norms of oppression, present at every institutional level, and continuously subjugating and marginalising women.

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Condorcet stated: "I believe that all other differences between men and women are simply the result of education".

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Condorcet saw it as the only solution for women to deconstruct gender roles and promote another kind of masculinity, not based on violence, virility and the subjugation of women but rather on shared attributes such as reason and intelligence.

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Condorcet argued that expanding knowledge in the natural and social sciences would lead to an ever more just world of individual freedom, material affluence, and moral compassion.

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Condorcet was innovative in suggesting that scientific medicine might in the future significantly extend the human life span, perhaps even indefinitely, such that future humans only die of accident, murder and suicide rather than simply old age or disease.

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Condorcet's writings were a key contribution to the French Enlightenment, particularly his work on the Idea of Progress.

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Condorcet believed that through the use of our senses and communication with others, knowledge could be compared and contrasted as a way of analyzing our systems of belief and understanding.

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None of Condorcet's writings refer to a belief in a religion or a god who intervenes in human affairs.

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Condorcet believed that there was no definition of the perfect human existence and thus believed that the progression of the human race would inevitably continue throughout the course of our existence.

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Condorcet envisioned man as continually progressing toward a perfectly utopian society.

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Condorcet believed in the great potential towards growth that man possessed.

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However, Condorcet stressed that for this to be a possibility man must unify regardless of race, religion, culture or gender.

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Condorcet wrote a set of rules for the Society of the Friends of the Blacks which detailed the reasoning and goals behind the organization along with describing the injustice of slavery and put in a statement calling for the abolition of the slave trade as the first step to true abolition.

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Condorcet claimed that women were equal to men in nearly every aspect and asked why then should they be debarred from their fundamental civil rights; the few differences that existed were due to the fact that women were limited by their lack of rights.

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Condorcet even mentioned several women who were more capable than average men, such as Queen Elizabeth and Maria-Theresa.

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In opposition to those who relied on revolutionary enthusiasm to form the new citizens, Condorcet maintained that revolution was not made to last and that revolutionary institutions were not intended to prolong the revolutionary experience but to establish political rules and legal mechanisms that would insure future changes without revolution.

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Rothschild argues that Condorcet has been seen since the 1790s as the embodiment of the cold, rational Enlightenment.

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Condorcet was concerned with individual diversity; he was opposed to proto-utilitarian theories; he considered individual independence, which he described as the characteristic liberty of the moderns, to be of central political importance; and he opposed the imposition of universal and eternal principles.

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Condorcet emphasizes the institutions of civilized or constitutional conflict, recognizes conflicts or inconsistencies within individuals, and sees moral sentiments as the foundation of universal values.

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Condorcet's difficulties call into question some familiar distinctions, for example between French, German, and English-Scottish thought, and between the Enlightenment and the counter-Enlightenment.

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