Antoine Arnauld (February 6, 1612 – August 8, 1694) — le
Grand, as contemporaries called him, to distinguish him from his
father — was a French
Roman Catholic theologian, philosopher, and
mathematician. He was one of the leading intellectuals of the
Jansenist group of Port-Royal and had a very thorough knowledge of
2 Principal works
3 See also
6 Further reading
7 External links
Antoine Arnauld was born in
Paris to the Arnauld family. The twentieth
and youngest child of the original Antoine Arnauld, he was originally
intended for the bar, but decided instead to study theology at the
Sorbonne. Here he was brilliantly successful, and his career was
flourishing when he came under the influence of Jean du Vergier de
Hauranne, the spiritual director and leader of the convent of
Port-Royal, and was drawn in the direction of Jansenism.
His book, De la fréquente Communion (1643), was an important step in
making the aims and ideals of this movement intelligible to the
general public. It attracted controversy by being against frequent
communion. Furthermore, in the frame of the controversy around
Jansenius' Augustinus, during which the Jesuits attacked the
Jansenists claiming they were heretics similar to Calvinists, Arnauld
wrote in defense the Théologie morale des Jésuites (Moral Theology
of Jesuits), which would put the base of most of the arguments later
used by Pascal in his
Provincial Letters denouncing the "relaxed
Jesuit casuistry. Pascal was assisted in this task by
Arnauld's nephew Antoine Le Maistre. The
Jesuit Nicolas Caussin,
former penitentiary to Louis XIII, was charged by his order of writing
a defense against Arnauld's book, titled Réponse au libelle intitulé
La Théologie morale des Jésuites (1644). Other libels published
against Arnauld's Moral
Theology of Jesuits included the one written
Jesuit polemist François Pinthereau (1605–1664), under the
pseudonym of the abbé de Boisic, titled Les Impostures et les
ignorances du libelle intitulé: La Théologie Morale des Jésuites
(1644), who was also the author of a critical history of Jansenism
titled La Naissance du Jansénisme découverte à Monsieur le
Chancelier (The Birth of
Jansenism Revealed to Sir the Chancellor,
During the formulary controversy which opposed Jesuits to Jansenists
concerning the orthodoxy of Jansenius' propositions, Arnauld was
forced to go into hiding. In 1655 two very outspoken Lettres à un duc
et pair on
Jesuit methods in the confessional brought a motion of
censorship voted against him in the Sorbonne, in quite an irregular
manner. This motion prompted Pascal to anonymously write the
Provincial Letters. For more than twenty years Arnauld dared not
appear publicly in Paris, hiding in religious retreat.
Pascal, however, failed to save his friend, and in February 1656
Arnauld was ceremonially degraded. Twelve years later the so-called
Pope Clement IX
Pope Clement IX put an end to his troubles; he was
graciously received by Louis XIV, and treated almost as a popular
He now set to work with
Pierre Nicole on a great work against the
Calvinist Protestants: La perpétuité de la foi de l'Église
catholique touchant l'eucharistie. Ten years later, however,
persecution resumed. Arnauld was compelled to leave
France for the
Netherlands, finally settling down at Brussels. Here the last sixteen
years of his life were spent in incessant controversy with Jesuits,
Calvinists and heretics of all kinds. Arnauld gradually evolved away
from the rigorous
Augustinism professed by Port-Royal and closer to
Thomism, which also postulated the centrality of the "efficacious
grace," under the influence of Nicole.
His inexhaustible energy is best expressed by his famous reply to
Nicole, who complained of feeling tired. "Tired!" echoed Arnauld,
"when you have all eternity to rest in?" His energy
was not exhausted by purely theological questions. He was one of the
first to adopt the philosophy of René Descartes, though with certain
orthodox reservations relating to Meditations on First Philosophy; and
between 1683 and 1685 he had a long battle with
Nicolas Malebranche on
the relation of theology to metaphysics. On the whole, public opinion
leant to Arnauld's side. When Malebranche complained that his
adversary had misunderstood him, Boileau silenced him with the
question: "My dear sir, whom do you expect to understand you, if M.
Arnauld does not?" Next Arnauld was engaged in an
extensive correspondence with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, regarding the
latter's views detailed in his "Discourse on Metaphysics" (1686).
Arnauld died, aged 82, in Brussels.
Popular record for Arnauld's penetration was much increased in his
L'Art de penser, commonly known as the Port-Royal Logic, which kept
its place as an elementary text-book until the 20th century and is
considered a paradigmatical work of term logic.
Arnauld came to be regarded as important among the mathematicians of
his time; one critic described him as the
Euclid of the 17th century.
After his death, his reputation began to wane. Contemporaries admired
him as a master of intricate reasoning; on this, Jacques-Bénigne
Bossuet, the greatest theologian of the age, agreed with Henri
François d'Aguesseau, the greatest lawyer. However, his eagerness to
win every argument endeared him to no one. "In spite of myself,"
Arnauld once said regretfully, "my books are seldom very
short.". Despite Arnauld's achievements in various
fields, his name is mostly known because of Pascal's acclaimed
writings, which were more fit for the general public than Arnauld's
technical essays. Boileau wrote for him a famous epitaph, consecrating
his memory as
"Au pied de cet autel de structure grossière
Gît sans pompe, enfermé dans une vile bière,
Le plus savant mortel qui jamais ait écrit ;
Antoine Arnauld's complete works (thirty-seven volumes in forty-two
parts) were published in Paris, 1775-1781. There is a study of his
philosophy in Francisque Bouillier, Histoire de la philosophie
cartésienne (Paris, 1868); and his mathematical achievements are
Franz Bopp in the 14th volume of the Abhandlung zur
Geschichte der mathematischen Wissenschaften (Leipzig, 1902).
The links are to the Gallica version.
De la fréquente communion où les sentimens des Pères, des papes et
des Conciles touchant l'usage des sacremens de pénitence et
d'Eucharistie sont fidèlement exposez. Paris : A. Vitré, 1643.
Full text in original French : 
Grammaire générale et raisonnée contenant les fondemens de l'art de
parler, expliqués d'une manière claire et naturelle. Paris :
Prault fils l'aîné, 1754. Full text in original French : 
La logique ou l'art de penser contenant outre les règles communes,
plusieurs observations nouvelles, propres à former le jugement.
Paris : G. Desprez, 1683. Full text in original French : 
^ The new Schaff–Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. Vol. 1.
^ a b c d e f g Chisholm 1911.
^ Vincent Carraud (author of Pascal et la philosophie, PUF, 1992), Le
jansénisme Archived 2007-10-17 at the Wayback Machine., Société des
Amis de Port-Royal, on-line since June 2007 (in French)
^ Arnauld Family at concise.britannica.com, accessed 25 June 2008
This article incorporates text from a publication now in
the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Arnauld s.v.
Antoine—le grand Arnauld". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2 (11th ed.).
Cambridge University Press. pp. 626–627.
Nathan, Henry (1970). "Arnauld, Antoine". Dictionary of Scientific
Biography. 1. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 291–292.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Antoine Arnauld.
Works by or about
Antoine Arnauld at Internet Archive
Kremer, Elmer. "Antoine Arnauld". In Zalta, Edward N. Stanford
Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Eric Stencil. "Antoine Arnauld". Internet Encyclopedia of
O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Antoine Arnauld", MacTutor
History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews .
The Leibniz-Arnauld correspondence, slightly modified for easier
"Arnauld". Catholic Encyclopedia. 1913. - Has a
significant section on Antoine
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