Highly commended by d'Alembert for his defense, at the age of 16, of a thesis on calculus, he was admitted to the AcadémieAcademie des Sciences (1769) and was elected its secretary (1773) after further brilliant mathematical studies. As secretary he wrote his famous Éloges,Eloges, a series of appreciations of 17th-century scientists and of his contemporaries. The AcadémieAcademie FrançaiseFrancaise admitted him to membership in 1782.
Influenced by his intimate friends, Voltaire and Turgot, Condorcet turned to the social sciences, wherein he attained notable success. His abilities as an economist were recognized when, with the triumph of the Physiocrats, Turgot was appointed minister of finance and Condorcet was named inspector of the mint; and his abilities as an advocate were manifested when, as a philosophical critic of the absolute monarchy, he urged a unicameral parliament elected by universal suffrage (including women's suffrage), the separation of church and state, the secularization of education, and the abolition of slavery. As a legislator he drafted three remarkable projects, none actually adopted, but each having a profound influence on subsequent legislation: his Declaration of Rights (1789); a complete program for the reform of education on a national and laic basis (1792); and the draft of a constitution called La Girondine for the new French Republic. Only after the flight of Louis XVI had Condorcet come out wholeheartedly for the Republic.
Proscribed by the Jacobins, his opponents in the Convention, Condorcet took refuge in a hiding place in Paris in 1793. During the nine months of his concealment there he wrote his great work on social philosophy, Esquisse d'un tableau historique des progrèsprogres de l'esprit humain (Sketch of the Intellectual Progress of Mankind), a sweeping epitome of 18th-century philosophical ideas on the goodness and grandeur of man and the infinite perfectibility and progress of mankind. Captured by his enemies, he was taken to a tavern at Bourg-la-Reine, where he died, perhaps by taking poison, on Apr. 8, 1794. The Convention, which had proscribed him, subsequently ordered the publication of his great work.