Person: Lamy, Bernard
Bernard Lamy was a French mathematician who wrote on geometry and mechanics.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Bernard was baptised in Le Mans on 29 June 1640.
- The Director, Jean Bertad, led Lamy and the other novices in the reading and study of Scripture.
- In 1661 Lamy was appointed professor of classics at the Jesuit Collège de César in Vendome.
- While teaching literature, grammar, Latin, Greek, history and geography at Juilly, Lamy was ordained to the priesthood in 1667.
- During his time at Juilly, Lamy read all of Descartes' major works.
- Anonymity was probably sought to protect Lamy and the religious order to which he belonged from charges of the influence of Descartes, whose religious views had come under scrutiny by the Church.
- In 1676 an English version of Lamy's book, with some departures from the French text, was published in London.
- The translators, who have not been identified with certainty, attributed the original to "Messieures du Port Royal." Lamy was not a member of the Port Royal group, but he had benefited from some of their thinking about language and logic, and readers easily accepted the new rhetoric as the counterpart of the well-known Port-Royal Logic and grammars, thus greatly increasing its sale.
- The English edition was repeatedly reprinted in the eighteenth century but without inclusion of revisions that Lamy later made in the French text.
- Publishing this work anonymously did not save Lamy from trouble, however, since through his teaching at Angers he was known to be someone with a great respect for Descartes' philosophy.
- Following the issue of the decree, Lamy was exiled by order of the King early in 1676 and he went to live alone in Saint-Martin de Miséré in Dauphiné.
- Certainly, Lamy's exile ended, thanks to the decision of Cardinal Le Camus, and he was able to teach again in the seminary in Grenoble.
- We mentioned above Lamy's anonymous publication of De l'Art de parler in 1675.
- Lamy reorganised the structure of rhetoric to begin with an account of language: the organs of voice and speech; the parts of speech; the need to use words in their proper sense.
- Although speech is the subject of the work, Lamy has much to say about poetry, including versification.
- In one passage Lamy briefly states what might be called the dogma of neoclassical aesthetics.
- Lamy then published Les éléments de géometrie, ou de la mesure du corps, tout ce qui comprennent qu' Euclide a enseigné (1685).
- In 1686 Lamy obtained permission to live in Paris, spending a while at the seminary of Saint Magloire, but trouble over a theological work had him sent away from Paris in 1689.
- In this work, a harmony of the Four Gospels, Lamy made claims which went against the beliefs of the Church.
- These views landed Lamy in severe controversy with many within the Church.
- Lamy conceives of optics as dependent on the practices alike of the scientist, the mathematician and the painter.
- Lamy's sophisticated argument, however, is that any representation will fail if its effect is not in some way equivalent to the experience of its object.
Born 15 June 1640, Le Mans, France. Died 29 January 1715, Rouen, France.
View full biography at MacTutor
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive