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Joseph Joubert

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French philosopher ; b. at Martignac (Dordogne), 7 May, 1754, d. at Villeneuve-le-Roi (Yonne), 4 May 1824. At the age of fourteen, having finished his studies in his native town, he was sent to Toulouse to study law, but after a few months joined the Doctrinaires, a teaching order, and was entrusted with the instruction of lower classes. In 1778 he left the order and went to Paris, where he associated with the most famous literary men of the time, Marmontel, Diderot, and d'Alembert, with whose sentiments he was for some time in sympathy. The French Revolution opened his eyes and made him a strong opponent of the doctrines of the eighteenth century. In 1790 he was elected by his countrymen justice of the peace of the canton of Martignac. When his biennial term expired, he refused to accept re-election and returned to Paris, where in the following year (8 June, 1793) he married Mlle Moreau. Disgusted with the tyranny of the Revolutionists, he retired to Villeneuve-le-Roi. Even after the 9th of Thermidor he preferred to live there rather than in Paris. Chateaubriand, Mme de Beaumont, Fontanes, Molé, and Chênedollé were his frequent visitors. In 1809 he was appointed by Fontanes Inspector General of the University of France, and in spite of his poor health fulfilled his duties with the greatest zeal. When he was compelled to give up his inspectorship, he devoted his time to the education of his son and to his literary works. He was one of the first to understand the movement of the Romanticists and to encourage it. Owing to his kind disposition and his delicate taste, as well as his friendly and cheerful character, he had a strong influence over the young men gathered around him. Aiming at what was perfect in literature, he wrote very little and never published anything. He spent his leisure in thinking, and putting down his thoughts for himself. His aim was to note in terse and clear sentences the necessity, utility, and beauty of virtue. After his death, all these papiers de la malle (scraps of paper), as he called them, aroused the interest and admiration of Chateaubriand, who published a short selection of them for private circulation, under the title of "Recueil des Pensées de M. Joubert" (Paris, 1838). This book was re-edited with many additions by Paul Raynal, a nephew of the author, under the new title of "Pensées, Essais, Maximes et Correspondanee de J. Joubert" (Paris, 1842). Many other editions have since been published.

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