Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas Caritat, the Marquis de Condorcet (1743-1794), was a mathematician, a farseeing social and educational reformer, a champion of women's and minority rights, and the last of the illustrious line of philosophies who graced eighteenth century France and enriched the world with the message of 'enlightenment'. Following the French Revolution, Condorcet was entrusted with drafting a constitution for France. But a dispute with the French National Convention forced Condorcet to flee for his life. While in hiding, he wrote the Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind, a work addressed to the proposition that the human race is progressing, through reason and science, toward an ultimate state of perfection. Edward Goodell examines the life and work of this remarkable man, who in many respects was two hundred years ahead of his time. He lays special emphasis on the Sketch, which traces the gradual liberation of the human mind through nine historical stages, culminating in the achievement of freedom in the Age of Enlightenment.
Goodell also discusses the circumstances of Condorcet's birth and upbringing; his many contributions to the Enlightenment; and, the historical, intellectual, and personal influences that shaped the career of this eighteenth-century revolutionary. Included in this engrossing portrait of the Age of Reason are biographies of its leading luminaries: Voltaire, d'Alembert, Turgot, Diderot, Julie de Lespinasse, and others. The Noble Philosopher is a fitting tribute to an extraordinary thinker on the bi-centenary of his death.