Article ID: CBB489750642

Monitoring the self: François-Marc-Louis Naville and his moral tables (2020)


This paper examines the self-measurement and self-tracking practices of a turn-of-the-nineteenth-century Genevese pastor and pedagogical innovator, François-Marc-Louis Naville, who extensively used Benjamin Franklin’s tools of moral calculation and a lesser known tool, Marc-Antoine Jullien’s moral thermometer, to set a direction to his life and to monitor and improve his moral character. My contribution sheds light on how technologies of quantification molded notions of personal responsibility and character within an emerging utilitarian context. I situate Naville’s use of these tools within his work as a pastor in a parish of the (then occupied) Republic of Geneva and within the Genevese and Swiss pedagogical reform movement of the early nineteenth century. I provide a detailed examination of how Naville used and adapted Franklin’s and Jullien’s tools of moral accounting for his own moral and religious purposes. Time, God’s most precious gift to man, served Naville as the ultimate measure of his moral worth.

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Authors & Contributors
Klein, Judy L.
Morgan, Mary S.
Porter, Theodore M.
Bateman, Bradley W.
Nikolow, Sybilla
Jovanovic, Franck
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Measurement Science and Technology
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Llull: Revista de la Sociedad Española de Historia de las Ciencias y de las Técnicas
Journal Electronique d'Histoire des Probabilités et de la Statistique
Duke University Press
Cambridge University Press
Science and religion
Moral philosophy
Darwin, Charles Robert
Jevons, William Stanley
Thompson, Silvanus Phillips
Poynting, John Henry
Galton, Francis
Angell, James Rowland
Time Periods
19th century
20th century
20th century, early
18th century
17th century
16th century
United States
Geneva (Switzerland)
Great Britain

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