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Pardies, Ignace Gaston

1. Dates
Born: Pau, 5 September 1636
Died: Paris, 21 April 1673
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 37
2. Father
Occupation: Government Official
Guillaume de Pardies was a royal counsellor of the Parlement of Navarre. Note that Ignace Pardies dropped the "de." The father died sometime in the period 1640-5.
The sources give no indication whatever of the family's financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: French
Career: French
Death: French
4. Education
Schooling: Religous Order; D.D.
It appears that Pardies' entire education, from his entry into the Jesuit college at Pau, was completed within the schools of the order. He pursued philosophic studies in Toulouse in 1654-6 during his novitiate. After teaching four years, he pursued theological studies at Bordeaux in 1660-4. Note that the Jesuit college in Bordeaux was incorporated into the university. He assuredly had the equivalent of a B.A. As a Jesuit professed of the fourth vow, he had a doctorate in theology.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
Pardies was a Jesuit. Received into the order as a novice on 17 November 1552, he was ordained a priest in 1663 and admitted to the order in 1665. He took the four vows for full membership in 1670.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Mechanics, Optics, Natural Philosophy
Subordinate: Mathematics, Astronomy, Physics
Pardies' first work, Horologium thaumanticum duplex, 1662, may not in fact have been published. He drew upon it for a description of a machine to trace sundials published about a decade later.
Among his many published works, are Discours du mouvement local (1670) which also contains remarks on the movement of light, La statique ou la science des forces mouvantes, and Éléments de géometrie (1671). The books on local movement and statics were the first two books of a projected six book treatise on physics that he did not complete. Pardies had completed a work on optics when he died, and apparently Ango drew on it for his work on optics published after Pardies' death. He deserves a place in the history of physics for having intervened in the debate on the ideas of Newton and Huygens at certain decisive moments. His objection to Newton concerning his theory of color and the experimentum crucis enabled Newton to clarify certain difficult points. His unpublished manuscripts contained a theory of waves and vibrations that might well have played an important role in the development of physics.
Pardies was influenced by Descartes, and some of his earliest work raised doubts about him in the Jesuit order. A generation later Pierre Bayle considered him a covert Cartesian. His Discours de la connaissance des bestes, 1672, appeared to many to advocate Cartesianism under a pretense of defending Aristotle. To explain himself to his order Pardies then composed Lettre d'un philosophe à un cartésien de ses amis. In 1673 also La créance des miracles.
At Bordeaux Pardies gave a general course in "physiology" that dealt with problems such as gravity, magnetism, and electricity.
He also published on comets, and he left an Atlas céleste that was published after his death.
It seems clear that for all the doubts about his attachment to Descartes the Jesuit order considered Pardies to be one of their young stars. They moved him to their most important school in France, but then he died young.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Church Life
Secondary: Patronage
1656-60, taught humanities at the Jesuit college in Bordeaux, first as a "precepteur" and later (1664-5, after his theological studies) as a professor.
After a final year of probation at Pau, he taught philosophy at La Rochelle (Jesuit college) as a professor of mathematics and physics from 1666-8.
Pardies spent the summer of 1668 with the Comte de Guiche (at the Comte's request to the Jesuit order), instructing him in mathematics.
1668-70, taught mathematics and physics at Bordeaux.
1670-3, taught at the Collège Clermont (university level) in Paris. All of these were Jesuit colleges.
Pardies caught a fatal disease while carrying out his ministry during the Easter season of 1673 in the hospital for the poor at Bicêtre.
8. Patronage
Types: Aristrocrat, Government Official, Court Official
In 1668 he taught mathematics to the Comte de Guiche, who had been his school companion in Pau. He later dedicated two of his works to the Comte.
He dedicated his work on comets, 1665, to Arnaud de Pontas, President of the Parlement of Bordeaux.
The Atlas céleste, published after Pardies death, was dedicated to the Duke of Brunswick. Pardies himself signed the dedication, however, and after hesitation I am going to list this as courtly patronage. In the dedication Pardies said that Louis Verjus, the Comte de Crécy, has assumed the expense of the charts.
Pardies' superiors appointed him to all his academic posts. I do not count appointments of this sort, in which the order makes rational use of the skills of its personnel, as patronage.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Instruments, Military Engineering, Cartography, Hydraulics
His Horologium thaumanticum duplex (1662) contains descriptions of an instrument to trace all kinds of dials, even on irregular surfaces. He discusses optical devices and further describes his tracing instrument in a later work, Deux machines propres a faire les quadrans avec une très grande facilité (1673). The early work also extended ideas of Maignan and Kircher to devise two different dials which I do not fully understand.
He adapted a sextant to a new form to observe the comet of 1664.
He had completed an Art de guerre when he died. Ango's Practique générale de fortification, 1679, was probably based on this work by Pardies.
He prepared six celestical charts for his Atlas céleste which were the first fully to realize a new projection, called a central projection, in their preparation. Historians of cartography treat celestial charts as types of maps, and I list this then as cartography.
In 1668 his native Pau sought his advice and assistance in making the river Gave navigable to Pau.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
Although Pardies was never a member of any scientific society, he kept in contact with members of the Royal Society as well as the Académie. He entered into philosophic circles in Paris including the academy Bourdelot.
Among his correspondents were Oldenberg, Newton, P. Maignan, Kircher, and Huygens. He knew Leibniz when he was in Paris.
  1. August Ziggelaar, S.J., Le physicien Ignace Gaston Pardies S.J.
  2. (1636-1673), vol. 26 of Acta historica scientiarum naturalium et medicinalium (Odense, 1971). Q143.P16 Z97 This is a fundamental source on Pasrdies.
  3. An Anonymous article in Mémoires pour l'histoire des sciences et des beaux-arts, (the Mémoires de Trevoux), (Paris, 1726), pp. 664-93. AS 161.T8
  4. Joseph MacDonnell, Jesuit Geometers, (Vatican City, 1989).
  5. Hoefer, Nouvelle biographie générale, (Paris, 1857-66), 39, 190- 1.
  6. Carlos Sommervogel, ed. Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus, (Brussels, 1891), 6, 199-206.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. Pierre Ango, L'optique, (Paris, 1682).
  2. Not available soon enough to be consulted: "Pardies" in Pierre Costabel and Minette Martinet, Quelques savants et amateurs de science au XVIIe siècle, (Paris, 1986).
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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