Moore, Michael (c.1639–1726), priest, philosopher and educationist, was born in Bridge St., Dublin, son of Andrew Moore and Mary Moore (née Dowdall) of Mountown (Monktown, Co. Meath). In the 1650s Moore travelled to Nantes, where he received an education in the humanities at the Oratorian Collège Saint-Clement. Around 1660 he moved to the University of Paris, where he graduated as a master of arts two years later. During the following two decades he carved out a career at one of the teaching colleges of the University of Paris, the Collège des Grassins. He initially taught philosophy but changed to rhetoric in the 1670s and also became vice-principal of the institution. He refused an appointment as rector of the University of Paris in 1677, the result of a power struggle within the faculty of arts.
Moore directly involved himself in Irish affairs throughout the 1670s and 1680s. During the ‘popish plot’ scare, one Edmund Everard accused him of having helped the archbishop of Dublin, Peter Talbot (qv), to attempt to organise a French-sponsored invasion of Ireland in 1673. During the late 1670s and early 1680s Moore was responsible for the education of the children of the 16th Lord Slane, Randall Fleminge, who died in 1676. The children's maternal grandmother, Alice Moore, a protestant, made strenuous efforts to have the children committed to her care, which involved threats towards Moore from the English court.
These continued Irish associations assisted Moore's return to Ireland during the reign of James II (qv), probably around October 1686. He was appointed (titular) vicar-general of the archdiocese of Dublin, a position that reveals his ecclesiastical standing. Moreover, Moore was apparently appointed provost of TCD. This appears to have involved the recommendation of the catholic bishops and the earl of Tyrconnell (qv). Jacobite forces took control of the college in October 1689, when Moore was probably installed at the institution. William King (qv) believed that ‘one Doctor Moore, a popish priest, was nominated provost; one Macarty library keeper, and the whole designated for them and their fraternity’ (King, 194). In any case, Moore inherited little more than a military-dominated shell and never had the opportunity to exercise the functions of the office. Nevertheless Moore and his librarian MacCarty are credited with having preserved the library of the college from the excesses of Jacobite soldiers. During 1689 Moore may also have been selected to undertake a secret mission for James II to the French court, but it appears not to have proceeded. This makes the manner of Moore's departure from Ireland all the stranger. In early 1690 he apparently preached a sermon at Christ Church cathedral, in the presence of the king, on the gospel text ‘If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch’ (cited in Sir James Ware, The whole works . . ., ed. Harris, ii, 289). The sermon criticised James II's policy in Ireland as well as his Jesuit adviser, Father Petre. The episode apparently resulted in Moore's banishment from Ireland before the defeat of Jacobite forces.
Moore returned to Paris, where he probably concentrated on preparing his first work of philosophy, De existentia Dei et humanae mentis immortalitate secundum Cartesii et Aristotelis doctrinam dispuatio (1692). The text was an assault on Cartesian metaphysics and reflected the growing battle between scholastics and Cartesians for control in the University of Paris. The fact that Moore left France in the early 1690s, rather than focusing on rebuilding his career at the University of Paris, provides evidence of a continued enmity between him and James II, by this time resident near Paris. Around 1692 Moore departed France and travelled to Italy, where he worked as a censor of books in Rome. In 1695 he met the archbishop of Montefiascone and Corneto, Cardinal Marco Antonio Barbarigo. In early 1696 Moore joined the staff of Barbarigo's recently reformed seminary in the small town of Montefiascone, near Viterbo, as rector and professor of theology. In 1700 he published a short tract on the study of Greek and Hebrew which reflects his educational ideas: Hortatio ad studium linguae Graecae et Hebraicae, recitata coram eminentissimo D.D. Marco Antonio Barbadico (1700).
The first two decades of the eighteenth century constituted the most successful period of Moore's career. In October 1701, only a few weeks after the death of James II, he returned to France and was rapidly elected rector of the University of Paris. A permanent position was secured the following year when Moore was appointed principal of arts students at the Collège de Navarre. During his first years in the post he undertook a systematic reform of the institution, introducing a more tightly knit structure, influenced by his immersion in the counter-reformation ideas promoted by Barbarigo in Montefiascone. A teaching position was acquired in 1703 when Moore was appointed professor of physics (or Greek and Latin philosophy) at the Collège de France (an institution independent of the university). Two of Moore's courses were subsequently published as Vera sciendi methodus (1716) and De principiis physicis seu corporum naturalium disputatio (1726). These works continued Moore's reiteration of scholastic principles and his attack on the increasingly dominant Cartesianism, in the spheres of logic and physics.
Moore retired from his positions at the Collège de France and the Collège de Navarre in 1720, though he continued to reside in the latter until his death. Throughout his life he was involved in the affairs of the Irish community in Paris, particularly through the workings of the German Nation, one of the four administrative bodies of the faculty of arts. He also acted as an occasional mediator and financial patron to the Irish Collège des Lombards. Moreover, he left his impressive library, which had over 1,200 volumes at the time of his death, to the Irish institution. He died 22 August 1726 in Paris.