who are these people?  Turgot, Diderot, Condorcet, Jefferson, ....  we'll tell you soon

 Turgot, Anne-Robert-Jacques, Baron De L'aulne 
 

  In 1753 he translated into French Josiah Tucker's Reflections on the Expediency of a Law for the Naturalization of Foreign Protestants (1752) and the following year published Lettres sur la tolérance (Letters on Tolerance). Between 1753 and 1756 Turgot accompanied J.-C.-M. Vincent de Gournay, the mentor of the physiocratic school and an intendant of commerce, on his tours of inspection to various French provinces.  Intendant to the administrative region of Limoges for 13 years and there displayed his extraordinary capacities as an administrator, reformer, and economist. In 1766 he published his best-known work, Reflections on the Formation and Distribution of Wealth, to which he was to add--among other famous works--Lettres sur la liberté du commerce des grains (1770; "Letters on the Freedom of the Grain Trade"). He introduced new methods to the peasant region he administered, substituting a small tax in money for the corvée (unpaid work required of peasants for the upkeep of roads); compiling a land register (cadastre) for tax purposes; and combatting the famine of 1770-71, during which--despite opposition--he maintained the free commerce in grain.  (from the Encyclopædia Britannica.)

 

Condorcet, Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas

  descended from the ancient family of Caritat, who took their title from Condorcet, a town in Dauphiné  ... Condorcet was the friend of almost all the distinguished men of his time and a zealous propagator of the progressive views then current among French men of letters. A protégé of the French philosopher and mathematician Jean Le Rond d'Alembert, he took an active part in the preparation of the Encyclopédie. He was elected to the permanent secretaryship of the Academy of Sciences in 1777 and to the French Academy in 1782 and was a member of other European academies. 

In 1786 he married Sophie de Grouchy (1764-1822), who was said to have been one of the most beautiful women of her time. Her salon at the Hôtel des Monnaies, where Condorcet lived in his capacity as inspector general of the mint, was quite famous.

Condorcet published his Vie de M. Turgot in 1786 and his Vie de Voltaire in 1789. These biographies of his friends reveal his sympathy with Turgot's economic theories about mitigating the suffering of the French populace before the French Revolution and with Voltaire's opposition to the church.   ... He  was chief author of the address to the European powers in 1791; and in 1792 he presented a scheme for a system of state education, which was the basis of that ultimately adopted. Condorcet was one of the first to declare for a republic, and in August 1792 he drew up the declaration justifying the suspension of the king and the summoning of the National Convention. In the convention he represented the département of Aisne and was a member of the committee on the constitution. His draft of a new constitution, representative of the Girondins, the more moderate political group during the Revolution, was rejected, however, in favour of that of the Jacobins, a more radical political group whose dominating figure was Robespierre. In the trial of Louis XVI he voted against the death penalty. 

To occupy his mind while he was in hiding, some of his friends prevailed on him to engage in the work by which he is best known, the Esquisse d'un tableau historique des progrès de l'esprit humain (1795; Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind). Its fundamental idea is that of the continuous progress of the human race to an ultimate perfection. He represents humans as starting from the lowest stage of savagery with no superiority over the other animals save that of bodily organization and as advancing uninterruptedly in the path of enlightenment, virtue, and happiness. The stages that the human race has already gone through, or, in other words, the great epochs of history, are regarded as nine in number.

There is an epoch of the future--a 10th epoch--and the most original part of Condorcet's treatise is that which is devoted to it ...  he argues that the three tendencies that the entire history of the past shows will be characteristic features of the future are: (1) the destruction of inequality between nations; (2) the destruction of inequality between classes; and (3) the improvement of individuals, the indefinite perfectibility of human nature itself--intellectually, morally, and physically. The equality to which he represents nations and individuals as tending is not absolute equality but equality of freedom and of rights. Nations and men, he asserts, are equal if equally free and are all tending to equality because all are tending to freedom.

Wholly a man of the Enlightenment, an advocate of economic freedom, religious toleration, legal and educational reform, and the abolition of slavery, Condorcet sought to extend the empire of reason to social affairs. As to human behaviour ...  he sought to explain it by a merger of the two sciences that eventually became transmuted into the discipline of sociology.


Adapted from Encyclopædia Britannica

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