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MARQUIS DE JEAN JACQUES LEFRANC POMPI...

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Originally appearing in Volume V22, Page 58 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MARQUIS DE JEAN JACQUES LEFRANC POMPIGNAN (1709 1784), French poet, was born on the 17th of August 1709, at Montauban, where his father was president of the tour des aides, and the son, who also followed the profession of the law, succeeded in 1745 to the same charge. The same year he was also appointed conseiller d'honneur of the parlement of Toulouse, but his courageous opposition to the abuses of the royal power, especially in the matter of taxation, brought down upon him so much vexation that he resigned his positions almost immediately, his marriage with a rich woman enabling him to devote himself to literature. His first play, Didon (1734), which owed much to Metastasio's opera on the same subject, gained a great success, and gave rise to expectations not fulfilled by the Adieux de Mars (1735) and some light operas that followed. His reputation was made by Pbesies sacrees et philosophiques (1734), much mocked at by Voltaire who punned on the title: " acres ils sont, car personne n'y touche." Lefranc's odes on profane subjects hardly reach the same level, with the exception of the ode on the death of J. B. Rousseau, which secured him entrance to the Academy (1760). On his reception he made an ill-considered oration violently attacking the Encyclopaedists, many of whom were in his audience and had given him their votes. Lefranc soon had reason to repent of his rashness, for the epigrams and stories circulated by those whom he had attacked made it impossible for him to remain in Paris, and he took refuge in his native town, where he spent the rest of his life occupied in making numerous translations from the classics, none of great merit. La Harpe, who is severe enough on Lefranc in his correspondence, does his abilities full justice in his Cours lilteraire, and ranks him next to J. B. Rousseau among French lyric poets. With those of other 18th-century poets his works may be studied in the Petits poetes francais (1838) of M. Prosper Poitevin. His fEuvres coinpletes (4 vols.) were published in 1781, selections (2 vols.) in 1800, 1813, 1822. His brother, JEAN GEORGES LEFRANC DE POMPIGNAN (1715-1790), was the archbishop of Vienne against whose defence of the faith Voltaire launched the good-natured mockery of Les Lettres d'un Quaker. Elected to the Estates General, he passed over to the Liberal side, and led the 149 members of the clergy who united with the third estate to form the National Assembly. He was one of its first presidents, and was minister of public worship when the civil constitution was forced upon the clergy. POMPONAllI, PIETRO (PETRUS POMPONATIUS) (1462–1525), Italian philosopher, was born at Mantua on the 16th of September 1462, and died at Bologna on the 18th of May 1525. His education, begun at Mantua, was completed at Padua, where he became doctor of medicine in 1487. In 1488 he was elected extraordinary professor of philosophy at Padua, where he was a colleague of Achillini, the Averroist. From about 1495 to 15og he occupied the chair of natural philosophy until the closing of the schools of Padua, when he took a professorship at Ferrara where he lectured on the De anima. In 1512 he was invited to Bologna where he remained till his death and where he produced.all his important works. The predominance of medical science at Padua had cramped his energies, but at Ferrara, and even more at Bologna, the study of psychology and theological speculation were more important. In 1516 he produced his great work De immortalitate animi, which gave rise to a storm of controversy between the orthodox Thomists of the Catholic Church, the Averroists headed by Agostino Nifo, and the so-called Alexandrist School. The treatise was burned at Venice, and Pomponazzi himself ran serious risk of death at the hands of the Catholics. Two pamphlets followed, the Apologia and the Defensorium, wherein he explained his paradoxical position as Catholic and philosophic materialist. His last two treatises, the De incantationibus and the De fato, were posthumously published in an edition of his works printed at Basel. Pomponazzi is profoundly interesting as the herald of the Renaissance. He was born in the period of transition when scholastic formalism was losing its hold over men both in the Church and outside. Hitherto the dogma of the Church had been based on Aristotle as interpreted by Thomas Aquinas. So close was this identification that any attack on Aristotle, or even an attempt to reopen the old discussions on the Aristotelian problems, was regarded as a dangerous heresy. Pornponazzi claimed the right to study Aristotle for himself, and devoted himself to the De anima with the view of showing that Thomas Aquinas had entirely misconceived the Aristotelian theory of the active and the passive intellect. The Averroists had to some extent anticipated this attitude by their contention that immortality does not imply the eternal separate existence of the individual soul, that the active principle which is common to all men alone survives. Pomponazzi's revolt went further than this. He held, with Alexander of Aprodisias, that, as the soul is the form of the body (as Aquinas also asserted), it must, by hypothesis, perish with the body; form apart from matter is unthinkable. The ethical consequence of such a view is important, and in radical contrast to the practice of the period. Virtue can .no longer be viewed solely in relation to reward and punishment in another existence. A new sanction is required. Pomponazzi found this criterion in -roil KaXou EPeKa —virtue for its own sake. " Praemium essentiale virtutis est ipsamet virtus quae hominem felicem facit," he says in the De immortalitate. Consequently, whether or not the soul be immortal, the ethical criterion remains the same: " Neque aliquo pacto declinandum est a virtute quicquid accidat post mortem." In spite of this philosophical materialism, Pomponazzi declared his adherence to the Catholic faith, and thus established the principle that religion and philosophy, faith and knowledge, may be diametrically opposed and yet coexist for the same thinker. This curious paradox he exemplifies in the De incanta tione, where in one breath he sums up against the existence of demons and spirits on the basis of the Aristotelian theory of the cosmos, and, as a believing Christian, asserts his faith in their existence. In this work he insists emphatically upon the orderly sequence of nature, cause and effect. Men grow to maturity and then decay; so religions have their day and succumb. Even Christianity, he added (with the usual proviso that he is speaking as a philosopher) was showing indications of decline. See A. H. Douglas, Philosophy and Psychology of Pietro Pomponazzi (1910) ; also Ritter, Geschichte der Philosophie; J. A. Symonds, The Renaissance in Italy; Windelband, History of Philosophy (trans. by James H. Tufts, pt. 4, c. 1); J. Burckhardt, Die Kultur der Renaissance in Ilalien; L. Ferri, La Psicologia di P. Pornponazzi. (J. M. M..)
End of Article: MARQUIS DE JEAN JACQUES LEFRANC POMPIGNAN (1709 1784)
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