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Lamy, Bernard

Lamy, Bernard

(b. Le Mans, France, June 1640; d. Rouen, France, 29 January 1715)

mathematics, mechanics.

Lamy found is vocation at the Oratorian collège in Le Mans, where his parents, m Alain Lamy and Marie Masnier, had sent him. As soon as his ’Rhétorique” ended, he entered as a notice at the Maison d’Institution in Paris on 6 October 1658.

Lamy was both a product and a master of Oratorian pedagogy. In his principal work, entretiens sur les sciences, the first edition o which appeared in 1683, he proposes an art of learning and teaching all the secular and religious disciplines. This book, admired later by Rousseau, is simultaneously an educational treatise, a discourse on method, and a guide to reading.

During his career Lamy taught almost all subjects. Following his novitiate (1658–1659) and two years to philosophical studies at the collége of Saumar, he became professor of classics at Vendôme (1661–1663) and at Juilly (1663–1668). In 1675, drawing on his knowledge of belles lettres, he composed De l’art de parler, which in 1688, became La rhétorique ou l’art de parler.

Ordained a priest in 1667, Lamy in 1669 finished his training at the École de Théologie de Notre-Dame des Ardilliers, at Saumur. There his teacher was Pére André Marin, who found in Descartes support for his Augustinianism. Lamy’s admiration for and attachment to Descartes were unwavering. When he became a professor of philosophy, it was Cartesianism that he taught, first at the collége of Saumar, and then, beginning in 1673, at the collège of Angers, which bore the title Facult′ de Arts. This instruction was the cause of his misfortunes. Attacked and denounced for Augustinianis, Cartesianism, and antimonarchical opinions, Lamy was exiled by order of the king in Dauphiné at the beginning of 1676.

Af first Lamy lived in a “solitutde” at Saint-Martin de Misété, but soon, thanks to the support of the bishop, Le Camus, he moved into the seminary in Grenoble, where he was again able to teach. During this period he published his principal scientific works: Traitez de méchanique, Traité de la grandeur en général, and Les élémens de géométrie.

These works were still those of a good teacher and not of a researcher; Lamy ws more concerned with diffusion than with discovery. Connected with the small Oratorian group of mathematicians that his very good friend Malebranche inspried and animated, he asked of it more than he brought to it. He himself acknowledged his debt to his colleague Jean Prestet. Even when in 1687, in an appendix to the second edition of his Traitez de méchanique, Lamy stated, at the same time as Varignon, the rule of the parallelogram of forces, he did not see all of its implications and consequences. Despite Duhem's opinion, Varignon must be conceded the greater originality and awareness of novelty.

In 1686 Lamy obtained permission to live in Paris, but a work on the concordance of the evangelists provoked sharp polemics and his superior general judged it best to send him away gain. Beginning in 1690 he lived in Rouen, where he remained until his death, occupied with historical and scriptural studies.


I. Original Works. Lamy’s writings include Traitez de méchanique, de l’équlibre des solides et des liqueurs (Paris, 1679); Traitez de méchanique… Nouvelle édition oú l'on ajoute une nouvelle maniére de démontrer les oprincipaux théorémes de cette science (Paris, 1687); Traité de la grandeur en généal (Paris, 1680); Entretiens sur les sciences (Grenoble, 1683), also in critical ed. by François Girbal and Pierre Clair (Paris, 1966); Les élémens de géometrie (Paris, 1685); and Traité de perspective (Paris, 1701).

II. Secondary Literature See Perre Costabel, “Varignon, Lamy et le parallélogramme des forces,” in Archives internationales d’historie des sciences, no. 74–75 (Jan.–June 1966), 103–124; Pierre Duhem, Les origines de la statique (Paris, 1906), II , 251–259; and François Girbal, Bernard Lamy. étude biographique et bibliographique (Paris, 1964).

Joseph Beaude

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