Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Marie Joseph De Gérando

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DE GERANDO, MAJRIE JOSEPH (1772-1842), one of the most distinguished ethical and metaphysical philo sophers of France, was born at Lyons, February 29, 1772. When that city was besieged in 1793 by the armies of the republic, the young De Gerando took up arms in defence of his native place, was made prisoner, and with difficulty escaped with his life. He first took refuge in Switzerland, whence he afterwards fled to Naples. In 1796, after an exile of three years, the establishment of the Directory allowed him to return to France. Finding himself, at the age of twenty-five, without a profession, he resolved to embrace the career of arms, and enlisted as a private in a cavalry regiment. About this time the Institute had pro posed as a subject for an essay this question, " What is the influence of symbols on the faculty of thought ? " De Gerando gained the prize, and heard of his success after the battle of Zurich, in which he had distinguished himself. This literary triumph was the first step in his upward career. In 1799 he was attached to the ministry of the interior by Lucien Bonaparte ; in 1804 he became general secretary under Champagny ; in 1805 he accompanied Napoleon into Italy ; in 1808 he was nominated master of requests ; in 181 1 he received the title of councillor of state ; and in the following year he was appointed governor of Catalonia. On the overthrow of the empire, De G6rando

was allowed to retain this office ; but having been sent during the hundred days into the department of the Moselle to organize the defence of that district, he was punished at the second Restoration by a few months of neglect. He was soon after, however, readmitted into the council of state, where he distinguished himself by the prudence and conciliatory tendency of his views. In 1819 he opened at the law-school of Paris a class of public and administrative Jaw, which in 1822 was suppressed by Government, but was re-opened six years later under the Martignac ministry. In 1837 the Government acknowledged the long and important services which De Gerando had rendered to his country by raising him to the peerage. He died in Paris, November 9, 1842, at the age of seventy. De Gerando s works are very numerous. That by which he is best known now, and which constitutes his chief title to posthumous fame, is his Histoire Compares des S//st ernes de Philosophic relahvement aux principes des Connaissances Humaines, of which the first edition appeared at Paris in 1804, in 3 vols. 8vo. The germ of this work had already appeared in the author s Memoire de la Generation des Connaissancei Humaines, crowned by the Academy of Berlin, and published at Berlin in 1802. In this work De Gerando, after a rapid review of ancient and modern speculations ou the origin of our ideas, singles out the theory of primary ideas, which he endeavours to combat under ail its forms. The latter half of the work, devoted to the analysis of the intellectual faculties, is intended to show how all human knowledge is the result of experience ; and reflection is assumed as the source of our ideas of substance, of unity, and of identity. De Gerando s great work is divided into two pai-ts, the first of which is purely historical, and -devoted to an ex position of various philosophical systems ; in the second, which comprises fourteen chapters of the entire work, the distinctive characters and value of these systems are com pared and discussed. Great fault has been found with this plan, and justly, as it is impossible to separate advantageously the history and critical examination of any doctrine in the arbitrary manner which De Ge rando has chosen for himself. Despite this disadvantage, however, the work has great merits. It brought back the minds of men to a due veneration for the great names in philo sophical science, a point which had been utterly neglected by Condillac and his school. In correctness of detail and comprehensiveness of view it was greatly superior to every work of the same kind that had hitherto appeared in France. During the Empire and the first years of the Restoration, De Gerando found time, despite his political avocations, to recast the first edition of his Histoire Comparce, of which a second edition appeared at Paris in 1823, in 4 vols. 8vo. The plan and method of this edition are the same as in the first ; but it is enriched with so many additions that it may pass for an entirely new work. The last chapter of the part published during the author s lifetime ends with the revival of letters and the philosophy of the loth century. The second part, carrying the work down to the close of the 18th century, was published posthumously by his son in four vols. (Paris, 1847). Twenty-three chapters of this had been left complete by the author in manuscript ; the remaining three were supplied from other sources, chiefly printed but unpublished memoirs. The next valuable work of De Gerando was his essay Du perfectionnement moral et Veducation de soi-meme, crowned by the French Academy in 1825. The fundamental idea of this work is that human life is in reality only a great education, of which perfection is the aim. Besides the works already mentioned, De Gerando left many others, of which we may indicate the following : Considerations sitr (liversesmet/wdesd observationdi speupJessaurrrcies, 8vo, Paris, 1801 ; &lor]c de Dumarsais, discours quia remporte le prix proposl par la scconde classe de I Institut National, 8vo, Paris, 1805; Lc Visiicur dupauvre, Svo, Paris, 1820 ; Institutes du Droit Administratif, 4 vols. Svo, Paris, 1830 ; Cours normal des institutcurs primaircs ou Directions relatives a Veducation physique, morale, et intdlcctuelle dans les ecolcs primaircs, 8vo, Paris, 1832 ; De Veducation des Sourds-Muets, 2 vols. Paris, 1832 ; De la Lienfaisance pulUquc, 4 vols. Svo, 1838. A detailed analysis of the Histoire Compare des Systimes will be found in the Fragments Philosophiguea of M. Cousin.