Nei primi giorni a Parigi venne in contatto con la scuola di Diderot. Grazie alla sua naturale attenzione e riservatezza, le amicizie di Condillac con i filosofi contemporanei non danneggiarono la sua carriera; egli comprese certamente la scelta della corte francese di mandarlo a Parma per educare il duca orfano, un bambino di sette anni, nel Opere e pensiero[ modifica modifica wikitesto ] Condillac fu sia un importante psicologo sia un divulgatore in Francia dei principi di Locke , che fu apprezzato e riconosciuto soprattutto da Voltaire e Brissot. Il suo libro successivo, il Trattato sui sistemi, fu una vigorosa critica a quei moderni sistemi che erano basati su principi astratti o su ipotesi non verificate. Egli libera i suoi sensi uno per uno, iniziando dagli odori, che contribuiscono per primi alla conoscenza umana.
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Biography[ edit ] He was born at Grenoble into a legal family, the youngest of three brothers. He was appointed as Abbot of Mureau. He developed a friendship with Rousseau , which lasted in some measure to the end of his life.
He had already published several works when the French court sent him to Parma to educate the orphan duke, then a child of seven years. Contrary to the popular idea that he attended only one meeting, he was a frequent attendee until two years before his death. He spent his later years in retirement at Flux, a small property which he had purchased near Beaugency on the Loire River.
He died there on 3 August Voltaire had made the English philosopher fashionable. Condillac developed his concept of empirical sensationism, and demonstrated "lucidity, brevity, moderation, and an earnest striving after logical method. He uses as his main principle of explanation the association of ideas. He believed it was necessary to study the senses separately, to distinguish precisely what ideas are owed to each sense, to observe how the senses are trained, and how one sense aids another.
He believed that the conclusion has to be that all human faculty and knowledge are transformed sensation only, to the exclusion of any other principle, such as reflection.
He unlocks its senses one by one, beginning with smell, as the sense that contributes least to human knowledge. At its first experience of smell, the consciousness of the statue is entirely occupied by it; and this occupancy of consciousness is attention.
The next stage is memory, which is the lingering impression of the smell experience upon the attention: "memory is nothing more than a mode of feeling. From comparison of past and present experiences in respect of their pleasure-giving quality arises desire; it is desire that determines the operation of our faculties, stimulates the memory and imagination, and gives rise to the passions.
The passions, also, are nothing but sensation transformed. The third section deals with the combination of touch with the other senses. The fourth section deals with the desires, activities and ideas of an isolated man who enjoys possession of all the senses; and ends with observations on a " wild boy " who was found living among bears in the forests of Lithuania.
Finally, he says that man is nothing but what he has acquired; all innate faculties and ideas are to be swept away. Modern theories of evolution and heredity have differed from this. In logic , on which he wrote extensively, he is far less successful than in psychology. He enlarges with much iteration on the supremacy of the analytic method; argues that reasoning consists in the substitution of one proposition for another which is identical with it; and lays it down that science is the same thing as a well-constructed language, a proposition which in his Langue des calculs, he tries to prove by the example of arithmetic.
His logic is limited by his study of sensations and lack of knowledge of science other than mathematics. He rejects the medieval apparatus of the syllogism ; but is precluded by his standpoint from understanding the active, spiritual character of thought; nor had he that interest in natural science and appreciation of inductive reasoning which form the chief merit of JS Mill. There is, however, no reason to question the sincerity with which he repudiates both these consequences.
The common reproach of materialism should certainly not be made against him. He always asserts the substantive reality of the soul; and in the opening words of his Essai, "Whether we rise to heaven, or descend to the abyss, we never get outside ourselves—it is always our own thoughts that we perceive," we have the subjectivist principle that forms the starting-point of Berkeley.
He believed that the structure of language reflects the structure of thought, and compared ideas to the sounds of a harpsichord. His theories had a major effect on the development of linguistics. Condillac promoted " sensationalism ," a theory that says all knowledge comes from the senses and there are no innate ideas. Condillac promoted an expressionist theory of linguistic creation that anticipates the prime features of later thoughts about language by German theorist Johann Gottfried Herder — In his theory of "vrai prix" [true price], Condillac proposed a theory of human history divided into two phases: progress and decline.
Progress is marked by a rational development and use of resources; decline is precipitated by bad behavior from the upper classes that then trickles down to the workers, encouraging excess, luxury, and false prices that harm the masses. Condillac saw the remedy to this as "vrai prix," a true price created by the unimpeded interaction of supply and demand, to be achieved by complete deregulation.
People would be taught to work toward their best interest in an open market through a reshaping of their perceptions. History was not a mere retelling of the past, but a source of information and inspiration as well. History thus served as a moral, political, and philosophical textbook which taught man to live better. Thus the two histories present the basic program of the Enlightenment in crystallized form.
In matters connected with the association of ideas, the supremacy of pleasure and pain, and the general explanation of all mental contents as sensations or transformed sensations, his influence can be traced upon the Mills and upon Bain and Herbert Spencer.
And, apart from any definite propositions, Condillac did a notable work in the direction of making psychology a science; it is a great step from the desultory, genial observation of Locke to the rigorous analysis of Condillac, short-sighted and defective as that analysis may seem to us in the light of fuller knowledge.
In spite of his protests against abstraction, hypothesis and synthesis, his allegory of the statue is in the highest degree abstract, hypothetical and synthetic. James Mill , who stood more by the study of concrete realities, put Condillac into the hands of his youthful son with the warning that here was an example of what to avoid in the method of psychology. A modern historian has compared  Condillac with Scottish Enlightenment philosopher and pre-evolutionary thinker Lord Monboddo , who had a similar fascination with abstraction and ideas.
Early in the 19th century, the romantic awakening of Germany had spread to France, and sensationism was displaced by the eclectic spiritualism of Victor Cousin.
Étienne Bonnot de Condillac
essai sur l'origine des connaissances humaines