Laromiguiere, Pierre, a distinguished French metaphysician, was born at Livignac-le-Hault, Aveyron, November 3, 1756. He studied at the College of Villefranche, and became successively professor of philosophy at Carcassonne, Tarbes and La Fleche, and Toulouse. In 1790 he went to Paris, where he soon became professor of the normal school. In 1812 he confined himself to his office of librarian of the university, still retaining, however, the title of professor of the faculty of philosophy. He died at Paris August 12, 1837. With the exception of a few miscellaneous pieces, his chief reputation as a philosopher rests on his Lemons de Philosophie (3d ed. Paris, 1826, 3 volumes, 12mo). He had been educated a zealous pupil of Condillac, but there were, as Cousin expresses it, two men in Laromiguiere, the ancient and the modern; the disciple and the adversary of Condillac.
Laromiguiere's Philosophy. —
(1.) Classification of the Faculties. —"These powers and capacities he separates into two great classes-those of the understanding and those of the will. The faculties of the understanding he reduces to these three: 1. Attention; 2. Comparison; 3. Reasoning. Of these three, attention is the fundamental principle from which the other two proceed; and of these two, again, the phenomena usually denoted by the words memory, judgment, imagination, etc., are simply modifications. Since, however, these three generic powers, in their last analysis, are all included in the first, the whole of the phenomena of the understanding may be said to spring from the one great fundamental faculty of attention. If we now turn to the will, we find, according to M. Laromiguiere, a complete parallel existing between its phenomena and those we have just been considering. The foundation of all voluntary action in man is desire; and in the same manner as we have already seen the two latter faculties of the understanding spring from the first, so now we see springing from desire, as the basis, the two corresponding phenomena of preference and liberty. These three powers, then, being established, all the subordinate powers of the will are without difficulty reducible to them, so that, at length, we have the complete man viewed in two different aspects — in the one as an intellectual, in the other as a voluntary being, the chief facts of his intellectual exactly corresponding to those of his voluntary existence. Lastly, to bring the whole system to a state of complete unity, our author shows that desire itself is, strictly speaking, a peculiar form of attention; that the fundamental principle, therefore, of our intellectual and voluntary life is the same; that the power of attention, broadly viewed (being, in fact, but another expression for the natural activity of the human mind), is the point from which the whole originally proceeds. Now the contrast between this psychology and that of Condillac is sufficiently striking, the one being indeed, in a measure, directly opposite to the other. The one lays at the foundation of our whole intellectual and active life a faculty purely passive in its nature, and regards all phenomena as simply transformations of it; the other assumes a primitive power, the very essence of which is activity, and makes all our other powers more or less share in this essence."
(2.) Origin of our Ideas. — "Here, in order to swerve as little as possible in appearance from the philosophy of Condillac, he makes the whole material of our knowledge come from our sensibility. Condillac had derived all our ideas from sensation in its ordinary and contracted sense; Locke had derived them from sensation and reflection, thus taking in the active as well as the passive element to account for the phenomena of the case; M. Laromiguiere, however, explains his meaning of the word sensibility in such a manner as to make the foundation still broader than that of Locke himself. Sensibility, he shows, is of four kinds: 1. That produced by the action of external things upon the mind — this is sensation in the ordinary sense of the word; 2. that produced by the action of our faculties upon each other this is equivalent to Locke's reflection; 3. that which is produced by the recurrence and comparison of several ideas together, giving us the perception of relations; and, 4. that which is produced by the contemplation of human actions, as right or wrong, which is the moral faculty. In this theory it appears at once evident that there is a secret revolt from the doctrines of sensationalism. The activity of the human mind was again vindicated, the majesty of reason restored, and, what was still more important, the moral faculty was again raised from its ruins to sway its scepter over human actions and purposes. M. Laromiguiere, the ideologist, will always be viewed as the day-star of French eclecticism" (Morell, History of Modern Philosophy, page 631 sq.).
Laromiguiere's works were published, in the 7th edition, as OEuvres de Laromiguiere, at Paris, in 1862. See Cousin, Fragments philosophiques (1838), 2:468; Damiron, Essai sur l'Histoire de la Philosophie en France au xixme siecle (1828); Daunou, Notice sur la Vie et les Ecrits de Laromigniere (1839); Valette, Laromiguière et l'Eclectisme (1842); Saphary, L'Ecole eclectique et l'Ecole Francaise (1844); Perrard, Logique classique d'apres les principes de Laromiguiere (1844); C. Mallet, Mem. sur Laromiguiere, in the Compte rendu de l'Academie des Sciences morales et politiques (1847), volume 3; Tissot, Appreciations des Lemons de Philosophie de Laromiguiere (1855); Mignet, Notice historique sur la Vie et les Ecrits de IM. Laromiguiere (1856); Taine, Les Philosophes Frangais du xixme siecle (1857); Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Generale, 29:669.