Caroline Warman

Published On


Page Range

pp. 231-270

Print Length

39 pages

8. 1794–95: Garat and the École normale

  • Caroline Warman (author)
By examining Garat’s lectures as delivered at the École normale, Warman argues that Garat was not only familiar with Diderot’s Éléments de physiologie but actively drew from its material to form the basis of his own teachings. The chapter first describes how the École normale was supposed to act as the physical base of a centralised national education system and provide a means of re-establishing trust between the Republic and the country’s elites. At the centre of this institution, Garat envisaged the École normale as ‘the first School in the world’ and presented his own lectures on the Analysis of Human Understanding as the foundation of all other subjects. In particular, Garat was interested in the theory of sense-based knowledge and declared himself a loyal follower of Étienne Bonnot de Condillac. However, Warman notes that Garat often diverges from the Condillacian school of thought and, within these instances, appears to repeat arguments presented in Diderot’s Éléments. The chapter presents five overarching topics on which Garat and Diderot formulate parallel commentaries including sensory perception, memory, and imagination. It was likely that Garat was using Condillac as a ‘shield’ to prevent any student or scholar from recognizing his connections to materialism and, more precisely, to Diderot. Warman concludes this chapter by explaining that Garat, after repeatedly being accused of atheism, never released the unpublished transcripts of his lectures in order to break the dangerous associations between himself, materialism, and Diderot.


Caroline Warman