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Scipion Dupleix was a magistrate born in the southwest of France and renowned for his historiography of the Bourbons. He was also a pioneer in the popularization of scholastic philosophy in France. Between 1600 and 1610, he produced four works, his Logique (Paris, Salis, 1600), Physique (Paris, Vve Salis et Sonnius, 1603, followed in 1604 by the Suitte de la Physique, dealing with the question of the soul), Métaphysique (Paris, Vve Salis et Sonnius, 1610), and Éthique (Paris, Vve Salis et Sonnius, 1610), along with two other works, the first entitled Les Causes de la Veille et du Sommeil, des Songes, de la Vie et de la Mort (Paris, Vve Salis et Sonnius, 1606), inspired by Aristotle’s Parva Naturalia, and La Curiosité Naturelle Redigée en Questions (Paris, Vve Salis et Sonnius, 1606), inspired by the Problemata genre and classifying each “problem” in alphabetical order, a singularly new idea at the time. These texts were later brought together and published under the title Corps de Philosophie. This was a commercial, mass circulation edition, free of royal censorship, first printed in Lyon by Rigaud in 1620 and subsequently in Rouen and Geneva. A further edition, entitled Cours de Philosophie, was published with the author’s approval by his customary publisher, Sonnius. Dupleix’s complete works met with resounding success up until 1645 and his Curiosité Naturelle was even translated into English (The Resolver or Curiosities of Nature, London, 1635).
KeywordsComplete Work Corpus Naturale Pedagogical Question True Philosopher Short Biography
Scipion Dupleix became an orphan at the age of 11. He was educated at the Collège de Guyenne, where he followed the teaching of Scottish scholastic philosopher Robert Balfour to whom he claimed he owed his learning. Contrary to popular opinion, he was not appointed preceptor to the Comte de Moret (there is no historical proof to corroborate this (Blanquie 2008a)) and did not embark upon his career in philosophy on the instigation of Queen Margaret of Valois, first wife of King Henry IV of France. Dupleix had published La Logique and La Physique before meeting her and put his work to good use in winning the Queen’s favors (Blanquie 2008a, 2008b). She took him into her service in 1605 and encouraged him to pursue his philosophical reflections. In 1619, he published his Memoires des Gaules and became king’s historian, in the service of King Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu. Despite the fact that he entered into the King’s service, he remained a magistrate until his death (he became “Premier consul” of Condom in 1626 and State Councillor).
Innovative and Original Aspects
Dupleix was both a philosopher and pioneering figure in the popularization of philosophy. In the latter role, he was the first person to produce a complete work on scholastic philosophy in French that was more than the mere digest or abridged version like those hitherto penned by Noël Taillepied (Œuvres de philosophie, à Sçavoir Dialectique, Phisique, et Ethique d’Aristote, 1583) or Jean de Champaignac (or Champeynac: Sommaire des Quatre Parties de la Philosophie, Logique, Ethique, Phisique et Metaphisique, 1606). Dupleix was also keenly interested in pedagogical questions and takes great care to accompany his reader, even the novice, step by step down the path towards philosophical enlightenment. He coined or disseminated a number of philosophical terms in French directly borrowed from scholastic Latin and peppered his treatise with numerous quotations from Aristotle which he translated into French, at a time when not a single of the treatises of the corpus naturale had as yet been translated. His writing is characterized by the values of humanism and clearly expresses a desire to please those most bookish among his readers – his texts are enriched with snippets of Latin or Greek poetry, and he refers abundantly to the work of the great French poet Guillaume du Bartas who worked in the field of science in the 1580s (Balsamo 2004; Giacomotto-Charra 2014). Dupleix unites his desire to disseminate a philosophical train of thought, faithfully translating scholastic works and drawing its inspiration directly from Latin manuals, with that of striking a happy medium between the scholarly idiom of French philosophy and a more amiable style capable of winning over readers with no natural predilection for philosophy.
In many ways, Dupleix was a true philosopher. He resolutely adopted instrumental logic and, in his other works, made clear philosophical choices. He regularly (albeit not systematically) voiced his opposition to Thomist interpretations, preferring Duns Scot or Durand de Saint-Pourçain (Ariew 1992; Faye 1986, 1998). He discussed the philosophy of his day and was a vehement critic of Jean Bodin and his Universæ Naturæ Theatrum, integrating contemporary ideas on medicine formulated by Jean Fernel into his treatise and correcting Aristotle on certain points. He explored such questions as metempsychosis and demonomania, thereby directly responding to commonplace concerns of his day. While Roger Ariew considered him a scholastic philosopher, in Wonder and the Order of Nature, L. Daston and K. Parks regarded him as a preternatural philosopher, providing ample proof if any were needed that his philosophy, hitherto so little studied, is worthy of far greater exploration.
- Ariew R (1992) Scipion Dupleix et l’anti-thomisme au xviie siècle. Corpus 20/21:295–302Google Scholar
- Balsamo J (2004) Dire le monde ‘selon l’expérience et la raison’. La Physique de Scipion Dupleix. In: Gorris Camos R (ed) Macrocosmo/Microscosmo. Scrivere e pensare il mondo nel Cinquecento tra Italia e Francia. Schena Editore, Verona, pp 279–288Google Scholar
- Blanquie C (2008a) Un magistrat à l’âge baroque, Scipion Dupleix, 1569–1661. Éditions Kimé, Publisud, ParisGoogle Scholar
- Blanquie C (2008b) Les épîtres dédicatoires de Scipion Dupleix. Une carrière en épîtres? Éditions Kimé, ParisGoogle Scholar
- Dupleix S (1600) Logique ou art de raisonner, Reduite en preceptes puisés d’Aristote et de ses plus signalés interpretes: avec telle facilité et brieveté, que les studieux François y puissent profiter. Dominique Salis, ParisGoogle Scholar
- Dupleix S (1603). La Physique. Vve Salis et L. Sonnius, ParisGoogle Scholar
- Dupleix S (1604) La suite de la physique. Vve Salis et L. Sonnius, ParisGoogle Scholar
- Dupleix S (1606a) Les causes de la veille et du sommeil, des songes et de la vie et de la mort. Vve Salis et L. Sonnius, ParisGoogle Scholar
- Dupleix S (1606b) La curiosité naturelle redigée en questions, selon l’ordre alphabetique. Vve Salis et L. Sonnius, ParisGoogle Scholar
- Dupleix S (1610a) La Metaphysique. Vve Salis et L. Sonnius, ParisGoogle Scholar
- Dupleix S (1610b) L’Ethique. Vve Salis et L. Sonnius, ParisGoogle Scholar
- Dupleix S (1620) Corps de philosophie. Rigaud, LyonGoogle Scholar
- Dupleix S (1626) Cours de philosophie. Sonnius, ParisGoogle Scholar
- Dupleix S (1635) The resolver, or cusiosities of nature. Nicholas Okes and John Okes, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Faye E (1986) Le corps de philosophie de Scipion Dupleix et l’arbre cartésien des sciences. Corpus 2:7–15Google Scholar
- Faye E (1998) Philosophie et perfection de l’homme: de la Renaissance à Descartes. Vrin, ParisGoogle Scholar
- Giacomotto-Charra V (2014) Scipion Dupleix, passeur de textes savants et poétiques. In Diu I, Bénévent C, Lastraioli C (ed) Gens du livre, gens de lettres à la Renaissance. Turnhout, Brepols, pp 171–183Google Scholar