Gassendi, Pierre [key], 1592–1655, French philosopher and scientist. A teacher and priest, Gassendi taught at Digne, Aix, and the Royal College at Paris and held several church offices. He ranked with the leading mathematicians of his day. He violently opposed the authoritarianism of Aristotle, especially in the Exercitationes paradoxicae adversus Aristoteleos (1624). He revived and interpreted the atomic theory of Democritus and Epicurus in terms of the new science, thereby opposing the Cartesian school, and also attempted to reconcile atomism and Epicurean ethics with the teachings of the church.
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