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Lamy, Bernard

1. Dates
Born: Le Mans, June 1640
Died: Rouen, 29 Jan. 1715
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 75
2. Father
Occupation: Gentry
Alain Lamy is described by one source as of the "bourgeoisie." However, Alain was "Sieur de La Fontaine." Girbal says they had a modest revenue. I take all this to mean minor nobility, or what I call gentry.
The modest revenue sounds like affluence to me.
3. Nationality
Birth: French
Career: French
Death: French
4. Education
Schooling: Saumur
He studied at the Oratorian college in Le Mans. He entered the Maison d'Institution in Paris in 1658, and studied philosophy at the college of Saumur for two years (1659-61). This is most peculiar since the only institution I know about in Saumur was Huguenot. I do not see any mention of a degree.
1662, officially admitted into the congregation of the Oratory.
1669-71, he studied theology at Notre Dame des Ardilliers in Saumur.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
He entered the Jesuit order in 1658, and was ordained a priest in 1667. (I do not see how to reconcile this with his admission into the Oratoire. Lamy was not a Jesuit according to Harris. However, he was in a Catholic order in any case.)
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Mathematics, Mechanics
His principal scientific works are Traité de méchanique (Paris, 1679), Traité de la grandeur en general (Paris, 1680), Les élémens de géometrie (Paris, 1685), and Traité de perspective (1701).
7. Means of Support
Primary: Church Life
Secondary: Academia
1661-1663, professor of classics at Vendome.
1663-1668, professor of classics at Juilly. Both of these were Jesuit colleges. (Again this information causes me problems.)
1668-69, pensionary prefect at the college of Saint-Ouen, which I believe was also a Jesuit college.
1671-1673, professor of philosophy at the College of Saumur.
1673-1676, professor of philosophy at th College of Angers (the faculty of arts at the University of Angers).
In 1676, he was censured for teaching Cartesian philosophy despite an interdict, and he was exiled by the order of the king. At first he lived in "solitude" at Saint- Martin de Misere, but when an order of the council ended the exile, he moved into the seminary in Grenoble, where he taught again (1680-84).
In 1686 he was part of a mission to the new converts around Grnoble.
In 1686 he obtained permission to live in Paris; he was in Saint-Magloire, mostly writing. But later (1689) he was sent away again.
Beginning in 1690 he lived in Rouen, where he remained until his death, occupied with studies. No explicit means of support is mentioned for this period. However, he wrote a large number of books at this time, and perhaps he had income from them.
8. Patronage
Type: Eccesiastic Official
After he was exiled in 1676, he soon obtained Bishop Le Camus' support, and moved into the seminary in Grenoble. In 1677, Guillaume Quesnel, brother of Pasquier Quesnel, a correspondent of Lamy, became superior of the seminary at Grenoble. Pasquier Quesnel probably worked for Lamy's rehabilitation.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: None
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
He was a friend of Malebranche, probably from the time when they were students together.
  1. Francois Girbal, Bernard Lamy. Etude biographique et bibliographique, (Paris, 1964).
  2. Nouvelle biographie générale, 29, 294-8.
  3. There is no entry for him in Carlos Sommervogel, ed. Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus, (Brussels, 1891) Pierre Costabel, "Varignon, Lamy et le parallelogramme des forces," Archives internationales d'histoire des sciences, no.74-75 (Jan.-June, 1966), pp.103-124. Q1.A734
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

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©1995 Al Van Helden
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