Condorcet, Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas Caritat, marquis de

Condorcet, Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas Caritat, marquis de märēˈ zhäN äNtwänˈ nēkôläˈ kärētäˈ märkēˈ də kôNdôrsāˈ [key], 1743–94, French mathematician, philosopher, and political leader, educated at Reims and Paris. He became a member of the Academy of Sciences in 1769 and of the French Academy in 1782. His work on the theory of probability (1785) was a valuable contribution to mathematics. Condorcet took part in the French Revolution, but, opposing the extremes of the Jacobins, he was condemned and died in prison. His best-known work is Esquisse d'un tableau historique des progrès de l'esprit humain (1795; tr. Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind, 1955). In that work Condorcet traced human development through nine epochs to the French Revolution and predicted in the 10th epoch the ultimate perfection of man.

See studies by K. M. Baker (1982), L. Rosenfield (1984), and E. Rothschild (2001).

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