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du Hamel, Jean Baptiste


Physicist, philosopher, and theologian; b. Vire, Normandy, June 11, 1624; d. Paris, Aug. 6, 1706. He studied at Caen and Paris, and in 1643 he entered the Congregation of the Oratory. After ordination he became professor of philosophy and moral theology at Saint-Magloire. In 1653 he left the Oratory and became pastor at Neuillysur-Marne. In 1663 he became chancellor of Bayeux. With the creation of the Academy of Sciences (1666), Du Hamel was made first secretary, a position he held for more than 30 years. Astronomer, mineralogist, chemist, physician, biologist, Du Hamel was well known to his contemporaries. He enjoyed the friendship and favor of Jean Baptiste colbert and other court personages. He notably contributed to the diffusion of Cartesian philosophy in France. Along with various scientific treatises, he wrote De consensu veteris et novae philosophiae (Paris 1663), a treatise on natural philosophy in which Greek and scholastic positions are compared with those of Descartes; De mente humana (Paris 1672); Philosophia vetus et nova ad usum scholae accommodata (Paris 1678), a widely used college textbook; Theologia speculatrix et practica (7 v. Paris 1690), abridged in five volumes for use as a seminary textbook; and an annotated edition of the Bible (Paris 1705).

Bibliography: a. vialard, Le Premier secrétaire perpétuel de l'Académie des sciences: J. B. Duhamel (Paris 1884). c. a. dubray, The Catholic Encyclopedia, ed. c. g. herbermann et al. (New York 190714) 5:187. a. guny, Catholicisme. Hier, aujourd'hui et demain, ed. g. jacquemet (Paris 1947) 3:115758.

[f. c. lehner]

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