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PIERRE LAROMIGUILRE (1756-1837)

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Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 223 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PIERRE LAROMIGUILRE (1756-1837), French philosopher, was born at Livignac on the 3rd of November 1756, and died on the 12th of August 1837 in Paris. As professor of philosophy at Toulouse he was unsuccessful and incurred the censure of the parliament by a thesis on the rights of property in connexion with taxation. Subsequently he came to Paris, where he was appointed professor of logic in the &cole Normale and lectured in the Prytanee. In 1799 he was made a member of the Tribunate, and in 1833 of the Academy of Moral and Political Science. In 1793 he published Projet d'elements de metaphysique, a work characterized by lucidity and excellence of style. He wrote also two Memoires, read before the Institute, Les Paradoxes de Condillac (18o5) and Legons de philosophie (1815-1818). Laromiguiere's philosophy is interesting as a revolt against the extreme physiological psychology of the natural scientists, such as Cabanis. He distinguished between those psychological phenomena which can be traced directly to purely physical causes, and the actions of the soul which originate from within itself. Psychology was not for him a branch of physiology, nor on the other hand did he give to his theory an abstruse metaphysical basis. A pupil of Condillac and indebted for much of his ideology to Destutt de Tracy, he attached a fuller importance to Attention as a psychic faculty. Attention provides the facts, Comparison groups and combines them, while Reason systematizes and explains. The soul is active in its choice, i.e. is endowed with free-will, and is, therefore, immortal. For natural science as a method of discovery he had no respect. He held that its judgments are, at the best, statements of identity, and that its so-called discoveries are merely the reiteration, in a new form, of previous truisms. Laromiguiere was not the first to develop these views; he owed much to Condillac, Destutt de Tracy and Cabanis. But, owing to the accuracy of his language and the purity of his style, his works had great influence, especially over Armand Marrast, Cardaillac and Cousin. A lecture of his in the Ecole Normale impressed Cousin so strongly that he at once devoted himself to the study of philosophy. Jouffroy and Tafne agree in describing him as one of the great thinkers of the 19th century. See Damiron, Essai sur la philosophic en France au XIX' siecle; Biran, Examen des lecons de philosophie; Victor Cousin, De Methodo sivc de Analysi; Daunou, Notice sur Laromiguiere; H. Tafne, Les Philosophes classiques du XIX' siecle; Gatien Arnoult, Etude sur Laromiguiere; Compayre, Notice sur Laromiguiere; Ferraz, Spiritualisme et Libe'ralisme; F. Picavet, Les Ideologues.
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