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GASSENDI (GASSEND), PIERRE (b. Champtercier,
France, 22 January 1592; d. Paris, France, 24 October
1655), philosophy, astronomy, scholarship.
note) to take, precautions that Bloch sets forth with
extreme precision; but these do not go as far as fideism.
7. Correspondance du P. Mersenne, XI, 38: “M. Gassendi
puissament, dans sa Philosophie Épicurienne, tout ce qui est
contre le christianisme, et, comme vous avez fort bien remarqué,
il y prend des précautions.” Rivet did not necessarily
see what Mersenne was talking about. Mersenne, however,
knew the drafts that preceded the one begun on this date as
well as the draft of the Instantiae, which was later joined to
the Cinquièmes objections and Descartes's Responsa to
the Disquisitio metaphysica (1644).
8. The author's conclusions in this and the preceding paragraph
are inspired by new material introduced by Gassendi in later
editions that has been studied in depth by Bloch; the author's
opinions differ, in accordance with his knowledge of the respective
positions of Descartes, Galileo, Gassendi, and
Mersenne in regard to each other.
9. Letter of 14 Aug. 1642, in Correspondance du P. Mersenne,
10. Tricentenaire, pp. 176, 186.
11. Galileo sent Gassendi a telescope through Diodati; see letter
of 25 July 1634 from Galileo to Diodati.
12. Tricentenaire, p. 188, n. 9. However, the Syntagma, I,
mentions the elliptical trajectories of Kepler.
13. Opera omnia (Lyons, 1658), V, 60b, end of book III, ch.
14. Principes, IV, 49-52.
15. Dialogo, in Le opere di Galileo Galilei, VII, 171; and
Études galiléennes, pp. 215, 229, 249, 252; and in
pp. 189 ff.
16. Despite everything that set them apart, Descartes and Gassendi
were often bracketed by authors of the end of the seventeenth
century. See also n. 5 and the corresponding text.
17. Gassendi had spoken of the Puy-de-Dôme experiment in a
supp. to the Animadversiones (1649) and of his own in a letter
(6 Aug. 1652) to Bernier, who had assisted him in that experiment.
(Dating the letter “anno superiore,” he called Bernier's
memory into question: his own “diaire” testified that the
experiment took place on 5 Feb. 1650.) All this is taken up
again in the Syntagma (Opera omnia, I, 203-216). See Rochot's
articles in Aventure de l'esprit (Mélanges Koyré) and
Tricentenaire, pp. 184 ff.
18. Pléiade ed., pp. 383 ff.
19. Tricentenaire, pp. 184 ff.; see also Bloch, ch. 8, especially
n. 190, opposing Koyré.
20. Tricentenaire, p. 180.
21. Did Gassendi read the Saggiatore? See Le opere di Galileo
Galilei, VI, 232, as well as the letter to Liceti (Jan. 1641),
XVIII, 295: “The book of nature is written in mathematical
I. ORIGINAL WORKS.
The contents of the six vols. of the
Opera omnia (Lyons, 1658), with a preface by Sorbière,
are summarily described in the text. The work has been
reprinted twice: N. Averrani, ed. (Florence, 1727); and in
facs. (Stuttgart, 1964), with a pref. by T. Gregory.
Following is a list of Gassendi's principal individual
Scientific Works. Into this class fall Mercurius in sole
visus et Venus invisa (Paris, 1632; 1658 ed., vol. IV); De apparente
magnitudine solis humilis et sublimis epistolae quatuor
(Paris, 1642; 1658 ed., vol. III); De motu impresso a motore
translato epistolae duae (Paris, 1642; 1658 ed., vol. III),
two letters to Dupuy, to which a third, to Gautier contra
Morin and dated 1643, was added in the 1658 ed. (Gassendi's
friends had published the Gautier letter earlier
[Lyons, 1649] without his knowledge); Oratio inauguralis
habita in Regio Collegio, anno 1645, die Novembris XXIII,
a P. Gassendo (Paris, 1645; 1658 ed., vol. IV); De proportione
qua gravia decidentia accelerantur (Paris, 1646; 1658
ed., vol. III); Institutio astronomica juxta hypotheseis tam
veterum quam Copernici et Tychonis. Dictata a Petro Gassendo.
Ejusdem oratio inauguralis iterato edita (Paris, 1647;
1658 ed., vol. IV); and Tychonis Brahei ... N. Copernici,
G. Peurbachi et J. Regiomontani ... vitae (Paris, 1654; 1658
ed., vol. V).
Philosophical Works. This second class includes Exercitationum
paradoxicarum adversus Aristoteleos libri septem,
in quibus praecipua totius Peripateticae doctrinae atque
dialecticae excutiuntur; opiniones vero aut novae, aut ex
vetustioribus obsoletae stabiliuntur, liber primus: In doctrinam
Aristoteleorum universe, issued independently
(Grenoble, 1624); bk. 2, In dialecticam Aristoteleorum, did
not appear until the 1658 ed. (vol. III) with the shortened
title Exercitationes paradoxicae adversus Aristoteleos, in
quibus.... It was separately published shortly afterward
as Exercitationum paradoxicarum liber alter in quo dialecticae
Aristoteleae fundamenta excutiuntur (The Hague,
1659); a text and French trans. appeared as Dissertations
en forme de paradoxes contre les aristotéliciens, B. Rochot,
ed. and trans. (Paris, 1959), in which bk. 2 is corrected
according to the MS at the Laurentian Library (this MS
was formerly at Tours but was stolen from there by Libri).
Epistolica exercitatio, in qua praecipua principia philosophiae
R. Fluddi, medici, reteguntur, et ad recentes illius
libros adversus R. P. F. Marinum Mersennum scriptos respondetur
(Paris, 1630; 1658 ed., vol. III).
The Disquisitio metaphysica seu dubitationes et instantiae
adversus R. Cartesii metaphysicam, et responsa (Amsterdam,
1644; 1658 ed., vol. III) consists of the Objectiones quintae
of 1641 with the publisher Sorbière's addition of the
Instantiae of 1642, after Descartes's Responsa. A text and
French trans. of the Disquisitio was published as Recherche
de la métaphysique, B. Rochot, ed. and trans. (Paris, 1962).
De vita et moribus Epicuri libri octo (Lyons, 1647; 1658
ed., vol. V).
Animadversiones in decimum librum Diogenis Laërtii, qui
est de vita, moribus placitisque Epicuri, 3 vols. (Lyons, 1649;
2nd ed., 2 vols., 1675), was reproduced only in part in the
1658 ed. The Greek-Latin text of Diogenes, with philological
notes, does appear in vol. V. The reworked doctrinal
commentary was incorporated into the Syntagma philosophicum
(see below). The Philosophiae Epicuri syntagma,
cum refutationibus dogmatum quae contra fidem christianam
ab eo asserta sunt, oppositis per Petrum Gassendum (1658 ed.,
vol. III), a sort of Epicurean breviary added as an appendix
to vol. II of the Animadversiones, appeared separately (The
Hague, 1659) with the preface that Sorbière had placed at
the head of the 1658 ed.
His masterpiece, Syntagma philosophicum (logica,
physica, ethica), was published posthumously (1658 ed.,
Correspondence. The Lettres familières à Fr.
(hiver 1632-33), B. Rochot, ed. (Paris, 1944), is based on
a MS that belonged to the heirs of the provost of Digne,