GASSENDI (Peter)

, one of the most celebrated philosophers France has produced, was born at Chantersier, about 3 miles from Digne in Provence, in the year 1592. When a child, he took great delight in gazing at the moon and stars whenever they appeared. This pleasure often drew him into bye-places, that he might feast his eyes freely and undisturbed; by which means his parents had him often to seek, not without many anxious fears and apprehensions. Inconsequence of this promising disposition, he was sent to the best schools, to cultivate it with the instructions of the first masters. He profited so well of these aids, that he was invited to be professor of rhetoric at Digne, before he was quite 16 years of age. After filling this office three years, upon the death of his master at Aix, he was appointed to succeed him as professor of philosophy. After a few years residence here, he composed his Paradoxical Exercitations; which coming to the hands of Nicholas Peiresc, that great patron of learning joined with Joseph Walter, prior of Valette, in promoting him; and, having entered into holy orders, he was first made canon of the church of Digne and doctor of divinity, and then warden or rector of the same church.

Gassendi's fondness for astronomy grew up with his years; and his reputation daily increasing, he was appointed the king's professor of mathematics at Paris in 1645. This institution being chiefly intended for astronomy, our author read lectures on that science to a crowded audience. However, he did not long enjoy this situation; for a dangerous cough and inflammation of the lungs obliged him, in 1647, to return to Digne for the benefit of his native air. Having thus, and by the intermission of his studies, recovered his health, he again returned to Paris in 1653; where, after first writing and publishing the lives of Tycho Brahe, Copernicus, Purbach, and Regiomontanus, in 1654 he again renewed his astronomical labours, with the design of completing the system of the heavens. But while he was thus employed, too intensely for the feeble state of his health, he relapsed into his former disorder, under which, with the aid of too copious and numerous bleedings, by order of three physicians, he sunk in the year 1655, at 63 years of age.

Gassendi wrote against the metaphysical meditations of Des Cartes; and divided with that great man the philosophers of his time, almost all of whom were either Cartesians or Gassendists. To his knowledge in philosophy and mathematics, he joined profound erudition and deep skill in the languages. He wrote, 1. Three volumes on Epicurus's philosophy; and six others, which contain his own philosophy.—2. Astronomical Works.—3. The lives of Nicholas de Peirese, Epicurus, Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Purbach, and Regiomontanus.—4. Epistles, and other treatises. All his works were collected together, and printed at Lyons in 1658, in 6 volumes folio.

Gassendi was the first person that saw the transit of Mercury over the sun, viz, Nov. 7, 1631; as Horrox first predicted and shewed the transit of Venus.—His library was large and valuable: to which he added an astronomical and philosophical apparatus, which, for their accuracy and magnitude, were purchased by the emperor Ferdinand the 3d.—It appears by his letters, printed in the 6th volume of his works, that he was often consulted by the most celebrated astronomers of his time, as<*>Kepler, Longomontanus, Snell, Hevelius, Galileo, Kircher, Bulliald, and others: and he has generally been esteemed one of the founders of the reformed philosophy, in opposition to the groundless hypotheses and empty subtleties of Aristotle and the schoolmen.

GAUGE-Line, a line on the common Gauging rod, used for the purpose of gauging liquids. See Gauging-Rod.

Gauge-Point, of a solid measure, is the diameter of a circle, whose area is expressed by the same number as the solid content of that measure. Or it is the diameter of a cylinder, whose altitude is 1, and its content the same as of that measure.

Thus, the solid content of a wine gallon being 231 cubic inches; if a circle be conceived to contain so many square inches, its diameter will be 17.15; which is therefore the Gauge-point for wine measure. And an ale gallon containing 282 cubic inches; by the same rule, the Gauge-point for ale measure will be found to be 18.95. And after the same manner may the Gauge-point for any other measure be determined.

Hence it follows, that when the diameter of a cylinder in inches is equal to the Gauge-point in any measure, given likewise in inches, every inch in its length will contain an integer of the same measure. So in a cylinder whose diameter is 17.15 inches, every inch in height contains one entire gallon in wine measure; and in another, whose diameter is 18 95, every inch in length contains one ale gallon.

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Entry taken from A Mathematical and Philosophical Dictionary, by Charles Hutton, 1796.

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GALLERY
GALLON
GALLOPER
GARDECAUT
GARRISON Guns
* GASSENDI (Peter)
GAUGER
GAUGING
GAZONS
GELLIBRAND (Henry)
GEMINI