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GASSENDI (GASSEND), PIERRE (b. Champtercier,
France, 22 January 1592; d. Paris, France, 24 October
1655), philosophy, astronomy, scholarship.
now in the Bibliothèque Nationale (fonds latin 2643). The
MS contains Gassendi's drafts of the Latin letters in vol.
VI of the 1658 ed. Most of the letters addressed to him
in the same vol. are in the Bibliothèque Nationale. The
French correspondence with Peiresc is in Lettres de
Peiresc, Tamizey de Larroque, ed., IV (Paris, 1893). Gassendi
is frequently mentioned in correspondence of the
period; see especially Correspondance du P. Mersenne,
C. de Waard, Marie Tannery, and B. Rochot, eds. (Paris,
1932- ). The bulk of his extensive correspondence in
French and Latin is far from entirely known.
Miscellaneous Works. The biography De Nicolai Claudii
Fabricii de Peiresc, senatoris aquisextiensis, vita (Paris,
1641; 1658 ed., vol. V) appeared in English as The Mirrour
of True Nobility and Gentility, Being the Life of ... N. C.
Fabricius, Lord of Peiresk, W. Rand, trans. (London, 1657).
It is especially useful as a source for the historian of early
A curious, and anonymous, pamphlet of 1654 designed
to calm widespread fears occasioned by an eclipse of the
sun is reasonably attributed to Gassendi. It was reprinted
by B. Rochot, ed., in Bulletin de la Société d'étude
siècle, no. 27 (Apr. 1955), 161-177.
II. SECONDARY LITERATURE.
The following items have
been selected from the bibliography (343 items, including
MSS, printed texts, biographical and doctrinal studies, and
various articles) in the thesis of Olivier René Bloch, La
philosophie de Gassendi: Nominalisme, matérialisme et
(Paris, 1971); F. Bernier, Abrégé de la philosophie
de Gassendi, 2nd ed., 7 vols. (Lyons, 1684); Henri Berr, Du
scepticisme de Gassendi, B. Rochot, trans. (Paris, 1960), a
trans. of the 1898 thesis An jure inter scepticos Gassendus
numeratus fuerit; [J. Bougerel], Vie de Pierre Gassendi (Paris,
1737), which should be examined carefully because the author
had access to documents that are now lost; G. S. Brett,
Philosophy of Gassendi (London, 1908); G. Cogniot, “Pierre
Gassendi, restaurateur de l'épicurisme,” in La
pensée, no. 63
(Sept.-Oct. 1955); P. Damiron, Histoire de la philosophie au
XVIIe siècle (Paris, 1846), I, 378-503; René
Dugas, La mécanique
au XVIIe siècle (Paris-Neuchâtel, 1954), ch. VI,
103-116; Tullio Gregory, Scetticismo ed empirismo. Studio
su Gassendi (Bari, 1961); Pierre Humbert, L'oeuvre astronomique
de Gassendi (Paris, 1936), completed by Philosophes
et savants (Paris, 1953), pp. 79-107; A. Koyré, Études
galiléennes (Paris, 1939), pp. 237 ff., repr. (Paris, 1966),
pp. 304 ff.; F. A. Lange, Geschichte der Materialismus und
Kritik seiner Bedeutung in der Gegenwart, 2nd ed., 2 vols.
(Iserlohn, 1873-1875), which appeared in French as Histoire
du matérialisme, B. Pommerol, trans., 2 vols. (Paris,
1921), and in English as The History of Materialism ...,
E. C. Thomas, trans., 3rd ed. (London, 1957), contains a
section on Gassendi; Kurd Lasswitz, Geschichte der Atomistik
vom Mittelalter bis Newton, 2 vols. (Hamburg-Leipzig,
1890; 2nd ed., 1928), II, 126-188; L. Mabilleau, Histoire
de la philosophie atomistique (Paris, 1895), pp. 400-422;
P. Pendzig, Pierre Gassendis Metaphysik ... (Bonn, 1908);
René Pintard, Libertinage érudit, 2 vols. (Paris,
which contains, in vol. I, numerous analyses in which
Gassendi is portrayed as the leader of a libertine tétrade
and, in vol. II, an important bibliography (see also the
MSS examined in his La Mothe Le Vayer, Gassendi, Guy
Patin [Paris, 1943]); B. Rochot, Les travaux de Gassendi
sur Épicure et l'atomisme (Paris, 1944); G. Sortais, La
philosophie moderne depuis Bacon jusqu'à Leibniz, II (Paris,
1922); J. S. Spink, Free Thought From Gassendi to Voltaire
(London, 1960); and P. F. Thomas, La philosophie de
Gassendi (Paris, 1889). More a summary than an interpretation,
it does not take into account the evolution of
Gassendi's thought as represented by the Syntagma. Two
collections of studies are Pierre Gassendi, sa vie et son
oeuvre, Centre International de Synthèse (Paris, 1955); and
Tricentenaire de Gassendi, Actes du Congrès de Digne, 1955
The MSS enumerated by Bloch are in the Bibliothèque
Nationale and in the libraries of Tours (706-710), Carpentras,
and Florence (Laurentian). Biographical documents are
at Aix-en-Provence, Digne, Grenoble, Marseilles, Munich,
Oxford, Stuttgart, and Vienna; in the Archives du Ministère
de la Guerre, Paris; and in the Bibliothèque Nationale
(fonds français 12270 and fonds Dupuy).
Some texts have been translated into Polish by H. L.
Kolakowski (Cracow, 1964) and into Russian by Sitkovsky
(Moscow, 1966), with studies.
It should be noted that the important study by G. Gusdorf,
Révolution galiléenne, vol. III of Les Sciences
et la Pensée Occidentale, 2 vols. (Paris, 1969), was used
in the preparation of this article.