1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Crousaz, Jean Pierre de

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CROUSAZ, JEAN PIERRE DE (1663-1750), Swiss writer, was born at Lausanne. He was a many-sided man, whose numerous works on many subjects had a great vogue in their day, but are now forgotten. He has been described as an initiateur plutôt qu'un créateur, chiefly because he introduced at Lausanne the philosophy of Descartes in opposition to the reigning Aristotelianism, and also as a Calvinist pendant (for he was a pastor) of the French abbés of the 18th century. He studied at Geneva, Leyden and Paris, before becoming (1700) professor of philosophy and mathematics at the academy of Lausanne, of which he was four times rector before 1724, when the theological disputes connected with the Consensus[1] led him to accept a chair of philosophy and mathematics at Groningen. In 1726 he was appointed governor to the young prince Frederick of Hesse-Cassel, and in 1735 returned to Lausanne with a good pension. In 1737 he was reinstated in his old chair, which he retained to his death. Gibbon, describing his first stay at Lausanne (1752-1755), writes in his Autobiography, “the logic of de Crousaz had prepared me to engage with his master Locke and his antagonist Bayle.”

The most important of his works are: Nouvel Essai de logique (1712), Géométrie des lignes et des surfaces rectilignes et circulaires (1712), Traité du beau (1714), Examen du traité de la liberté de penser d'Antoine Collins (1718), De l'education des enfants (1722, dedicated to the then Princess of Wales), Examen du pyrrhonisme ancien et moderne (1733, an attack chiefly on Bayle), Examen de l'essai de M. Pope sur l'homme (1737, an attack on the Leibnitzian theory of that poem), Logique (6 vols., 1741), De l'esprit humain (1741), and Réflexions sur l'ouvrage intitulé: La Belle Wolfienne (1743). (W. A. B. C.)


  1. The “Consensus ecclesiarum Helveticarum reformatarum ” was a document drawn up in 1675 and imposed in 1722 — as a test of strict Protestant orthodoxy as to the doctrine of grace — by Bern on its subjects in Lausanne and Vaux.