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François Para du Phanjas
Writer, b. at the castle of Phanja Champsaur, Basses-Alpes, 1724; d. at Paris, 1797. After his admission into the Society of Jesus in 1740, he taught mathematics and physics and later philosophy at Besançon. Many of his pupils became distinguished in the sciences and in apologetics. his was esteemed both for his learning and for his conciliatory disposition. On the suppression of the Society, the Archbishop of Paris and the Princess Adelaide granted him a pension. In 1791 he took the oath to the new authorities, but retracted it as soon as the pope had spoken. Amongst his works are: "Théorie des êtres sensibles" (5 vols., Paris, 1772; 4 vols., Paris, 1788); this work is both an encyclopedia of physics and a philosophy of the sciences; "Principes du calcul" (1st ed., Paris, 1773; 2nd ed., 1783); "Théories des nouvelles découvertes en physique et em chimie"; "Théorie des êtres insensibles" (3 vols., Paris, 1779). Para's eclecticism is not always too happy. He sides with Clarke in the latter's discussion with Leibniz as to the nature of absolute space. He keeps to close to Condillac's theory of the origin of ideas, and is deeply influenced by Malebranche's occasionalism. His works, "Les principles de la saine philosophie de la religion", and "Tableau historique et philosophique de la religion", proved very useful to the apologetics of the succeeding generation. The general treatment is marked by ingenuity in answering objections and the judicious use of his erudition.
SOMMERVOGEL, Bibl. de la C. de J., VI, 192; QUÉRARD, La France littéraire; ROCHAS Biographie du Dauphiné, II, 213; CHÉRIAS, Aperçu sur les illustrations gapençaises (1849); FELLER, Journal (1780), 507-23.