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Gassendi

Gassendi, Pierre (1592-1655), a French philosopher, was born in Provence. He went to school at Digne, and then to Aix. He returned to Digne, where he lectured in theology. In 1617 be was ordained priest and appointed Professor of Philosophy at Aix. He was dissatisfied with the scholastic philosophy which passed under the name of Aristotelianism, and in 1624 expressed his views in Exercitationes Paradoxicae adversus Aristoteleos. After travelling for some years, he was appointed in 1645 Professor of Mathematics at the College Royal of Paris: He had a great regard for the philosophical system of Epicurus, and in 1647 wrote De Vita, Moribus, et Doctrina Epicuri in eight books. After again travelling for his health, he returned to Paris in 1653, and wrote lives of Copernicus and Tycho Brahe. His great work, Syntagma Philosophicum, shows him to have been eclectic and by no means consistent in his eclecticism. He has been described as a philosophical man of letters and a literary philosopher. The theory of "primary and secondary qualities of matter" (i.e. that colours, smells, etc., are due to the action on our senses of the particles of matter, which in themselves are only extended, solid, and mobile), which has been important in the philosophy of the last two centuries, was reintroduced by him directly from Epicurus.