Condillac, Étienne Bonnot de

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Condillac, Étienne Bonnot de

Étienne Bonnot de Condillac (ātyĕn´ bônō´ də kôNdēyäk´), 1715–80, French philosopher who developed the theory of sensationalism (i.e., that all knowledge comes from the senses and that there are no innate ideas). He took holy orders, and in 1768 he became a member of the French Academy of Sciences. His major works were Essai sur l'origine des connaissances humaines (1746) and Traité des sensations (1754). In these he tried to simplify Locke's theory of knowledge by arguing that all conscious experience is simply the result of passive sensations. In spite of this reduction of consciousness to the passive reception of sensation he nevertheless retained the Cartesian dualism of soul and body. He thus attempted to harmonize his deterministic psychology with his religious profession.

See I. F. Knight, The Geometric Spirit (1968).

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