Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Joseph-Marie de Gérando

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A French statesman and writer, born at Lyons, 29 February, 1772; died at Paris, 10 November, 1842. After completing his studies with the Oratorians at Lyons, he took part in the defence of the city against the beseiging armies of the French Convention. Wounded and taken prisoner, he barely escaped being put to death, and later took refuge in Switzerland and at Naples. He enlisted again in the army and was at Colmar when the French Institute announced the offer of a prize for the best essay on "The influence of signs on the formation of ideas". Gérando sent a paper, which was awarded first honours. This was a turning-point in his life; for, having come to Paris, he was appointed to many important functions, political, administrative, and educational. In 1815, he was one of the founders of the Société pour l'instruction élémentaire, which introduced into France the monitorial system, established in England by Lancaster, and thus made education possible for the poor classes. He was a member of the state-council under Napoleon and under Louis XVIII, member of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, and of the Académie des Sciences morales et politiques, and officer of the Legion of Honour. In 1819, he opened a course in the faculty of law in Paris; and, in 1837, became a member of the Chambre des Pairs. He consecrated his talent to the causes of education and charity, taking part in the foundation and administration of schools, hospitals, and charitable institutions of all kinds. His works are very numerous; among the most important must be mentioned the following.


  • Philosophical:


  • "Des signes et de l'art de penser considérés dans lerus rapports naturels" (Paris, 1800), a development of his prize-essay in which the author follows Condillac, but differs from him on many points;
  • "De la génération des connaissances humaines" (Berlin, 1802), awarded a prize by the Academy of Sciences of Berlin;
  • "Histoire comparée des systémes de philosohie considérés relativement aux principes des connaissances humaines" (Paris, 1803).


  • Educational:


  • "Du perfecttionnement moral, ou de l'éeducation de soi-méme" (Paris, 1824);
  • "Cours normal des instituteurs primaires" (Paris, 1832);
  • "De l'éducation des sourdsmuets de naissance" (Paris, 1832);
  • "Institutes du droit administratif français" (Paris, 1830).


  • Charitable:


  • "Le visiteur du pauvre" (Paris, 1820);
  • "De la bienfaisance publique" (Paris, 1839).


C. A. DUBRAY