Mersenne, Marin

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Person Born Died Gender Person ID
Marin Mersenne Oizé 1588 Paris 1648 M P0945

Instrument(s) Professional group Social status Social sphere Why is the person listed?
guitar guitarra Academic Professional Urban Author Music theorist

Years active Place active Century Region
Paris 17cent/1/early France
Biographical information

Marin Mersennus or le Père Mersenne (8 September 1588 – 1 September 1648) was a French theologian, philosopher, mathematician and music theorist, often referred to as the "father of acoustics" (Bohn 1988:225). Mersenne was "the center of the world of science and mathematics during the first half of the 1600s."[1]
Marin Mersenne (pronounced Mehr-SENN) was born of peasant parents near Oizé, Maine (present day Sarthe, France). He was educated at Le Mans and at the Jesuit College of La Flèche. On 17 July 1611, he joined the Minim Friars, and, after studying theology and Hebrew in Paris received his full holy orders in 1613.
Between 1614 and 1618, he taught theology and philosophy at Nevers, but he returned to Paris and settled at the convent of L'Annonciade in 1620. There he studied mathematics and music and met with other kindred spirits such as René Descartes, Étienne Pascal, Gilles de Roberval and Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc. He corresponded with Giovanni Doni, Constantijn Huygens and other scholars in Italy, England and the Dutch Republic. He was a staunch defender of Galileo, assisting him in translations of some of his mechanical works.
For four years, Mersenne devoted himself entirely to philosophic and theological writing, and published Quaestiones celeberrimae in Genesim (1623); L'Impieté des déistes (1624); La Vérité des sciences (Truth of the Sciences against the Sceptics, 1624). It is sometimes incorrectly stated that he was a Jesuit. He was educated by Jesuits, but he never joined the Society of Jesus. He taught theology and philosophy at Nevers and Paris.
In 1635 he set up the informal Académie Parisienne (Academia Parisiensis) which had nearly 140 correspondents including astronomers and philosophers as well as mathematicians and was the precursor of the Académie des sciences established by Colbert in 1666. He was not afraid to cause disputes among his learned friends in order to compare their views, notable among which were disputes between Descartes and Fermat and Beaugrand.[2] Peter L. Bernstein in his book Against the Gods: the Remarkable story of risk writes: "The Académie des Sciences in Paris and the Royal Society in London, which were founded about twenty years after Mersenne's death, were direct descendants of Mersenne's activities."[3]
In 1635 Mersenne met with Tommaso Campanella, but concluded that he could "teach nothing in the sciences (...) but still he has a good memory and a fertile imagination." Mersenne asked if René Descartes wanted Campanella to come to Holland to meet him, but Descartes declined. He visited Italy fifteen times, in 1640, 1641 and 1645. In 1643-1644 Mersenne also corresponded with the German Socinian Marcin Ruar concerning the Copernican ideas of Pierre Gassendi, finding Ruar already a supporter of Gassendi's position.[4] Among his correspondents were Josh, Dekar, Galilei, Roberval, Pascal, Bekman and other scientists.
He died through complications arising from a lung abscess. Mersenne accessed 26/03/14

Related persons

Source documents
Date Document
1636 ‪Marin Mersenne, Harmonie universelle.