Marquis de Condorcet, Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat
Condorcet, Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat
French Philosopher, Mathematician, and Early Political Scientist
I hope to see the bringing together of all the best educated people of the earth into a worldwide Congress of Scientists.
As the mind learns to understand more complicated combinations of ideas, simpler formulae soon reduce their complexity; so truths that were discovered only by great effort, that could at first only be understood by men capable of profound thought, are soon developed and proved by methods that are not beyond the reach of common intelligence. The strength and the limits of man?s intelligence may remain unaltered; and yet the instruments that he uses will increase and improve, the language that fixes and determines his ideas will acquire greater breadth and precision and, unlike mechanics where an increase of force means a decrease of speed, the methods that lead genius to the discovery of truth increase at once the force and the speed of its operations.
We shall find in the experience of the past, in the observation of the progress that the sciences and civilization have already made, in the analysis of the progress of the human mind and of the development of its faculties, the strongest reasons for believing that nature has set no limit to the realization of our hopes.
If man can, with almost complete assurance, predict phenomena when he knows their laws, and if, even when he does not, he can still, with great expectation of success, forecast the future on the basis of his experience of the past, why, then, should it be regarded as a fantastic undertaking to sketch, with some pretense to truth, the future destiny of man on the basis of his history?
(The) average duration of human life is destined to increase continually, if physical revolutions do not oppose themselves thereto; but we do not know what limit it is that it can never pass; we do not even know if the general laws of nature have fixed such a limit.
The moral goodness of man, the necessary consequence of his constitution, is capable of indefinite perfection like all his other faculties, and nature has linked together in an unbreakable chain truth, happiness and virtue.