Marquis de Condorcet

(redirected from Condorcet)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
Related to Condorcet: Condorcet paradox
Nicolas de Condorcet
BirthplaceRibemont, France
Philosopher, mathematician, and political scientist

Condorcet, Marquis de


(Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat). Born Sept. 17, 1743, in Ribemont; died Mar. 29, 1794, in Bourg-la-Reine. French Enlightenment philosopher, mathematician, and sociologist. Political figure.

Condorcet’s research in mathematics brought him fame. He was elected a member of the French Academy of Sciences in 1769, and in 1782 he became a member of the Académic Française. In 1785 he officially assumed the position of permanent secretary of the Academy of Sciences. (He had in fact performed the duties of that office since 1773.) A friend of d’Alembert, Voltaire, and particularly A. R. Turgot, Condorcet contributed to the Encyclopedia.

In 1791, Condorcet was elected to the Legislative Assembly. He was the author of a bill on the organization of public education, which propounded the principles of secular schools and of universal education free of charge. Under the Convention, he was affiliated with the Girondins. Robespierre’s government charged him with conspiracy and sentenced him in absentia to death. For a while, Condorcet hid. In the spring of 1794 he was arrested. He committed suicide in prison.

Condorcet was a proponent of deism and sensualism. The Sketch of the Intellectual Progress of Mankind (1794; Russian translation, 1936), in which he attempted to establish the laws of the development of history, its main stages, and the motive forces of the historical process, holds a special place in his literary legacy. Influenced by the philosophical views of J.-J. Rousseau, Turgot, and G. Raynal, Condorcet did not reduce the historical process to the deeds of kings, legislators, and prominent personalities but devoted a great deal of attention to the culture and mores of the people. He was one of the initiators of the idea of historical progress, an idea which he developed, however, from an idealistic point of view. According to Condorcet, the progressive movement of history was due to the limitless capacity for development of human reason, which he portrayed as the demiurge of history. From his point of view, historical epochs are defined primarily in terms of the development of human reason, although the importance of economic and political factors in social development is also indicated.

In economics Condorcet shared the views of the Physiocrats. He was a proponent of the theory of natural law, which he used to deny the legitimacy of feudal society and to substantiate the necessity and the reasonable and eternal nature of the bourgeois system. He viewed the epoch of the consolidation and development of the society based on private capitalist property as the highest in the history of mankind. Condorcet could conceive of the future progress of mankind only within the limits of bourgeois law and order.

As an ideologist of a rising social class, Condorcet defended an entire system of advanced ideas: for example, the equality of individuals before the law, democratic rights and liberties, humane criminal legislation, and equal rights to education. He angrily condemned the colonial pillage “which corrupts and ravages Africa” (Eskiz istoricheskoi kartiny progressa chelovecheskogo razuma, Moscow, 1936, p. 224), and he regarded war “as the greatest crime” (ibid., p. 248).

Condorcet’s ideas played a significant role in the critique of the theological explanation of history and of providentialism and, particularly, in the development of the Enlightenment concept of the historical process.


Oeuvres, vols. 1–12. Paris, 1847–49.
Correspondance inédite. … Paris, 1883.


Marx, K., and F. Engels. “Nemetskaia ideologiia.” Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 3, pp. 530–31.
Cahen, L. Condorcet et la Revolution francaise. Paris, 1904.
Cento, A. Condorcet e Video di progresso. Florence [1956].
Bouissounouse, J. Condorcet. [Paris, 1962.]
References in periodicals archive ?
A partir de las demostraciones anteriores, se observa que los perfiles de preferencias que generan los contraejemplos son similares a lo que se conoce en la literatura como la paradojade Condorcet.
En este proceso desde los comienzos de la humanidad hasta un futuro esperanzador, Condorcet hara una lectura sobre la guerra llena de contradicciones.
Wojtas and Faliszewski (2011) proved that approval voting works for Condorcet voting.
Em consequencia, foram apresentados diversos informes, tais como os de Mirabeau, Talleyrand, Condorcet, Romme, Daunou, Lakanal, Lepeletier y Bouquier.
Sunstein's appeal to the Condorcet Jury Theorem suggests he has greater faith in the public's capacity to reason independently.
8) Indeed, in the Esquisse, liberty and reason are correlates, progress their mutual development: Condorcet could envision no conflict between liberty and reason.
Social Choice Theory and the Marks Doctrine: Marks as an Application of the Condorcet Criterion to Supreme Court Plurality Decisions
The book concludes with a careful analysis of the 1792-93 constitution written by Condorcet, whose "mature political ideas" have been "largely ignored by political theorists" (p.
Although Condorcet was of aristocratic background, there can be no question that he was an egalitarian even before 1789, and increasingly radical in his views.
Condorcet, too, has a somewhat naively tolerant view of slavery in his Reflexionssur l'esclavage des negres, a work published on the eve of the Revolution, and for all his hatred of cruelty does not condemn the practice.