Philosophic Thought in France and the United States: Essays Representing Major Trends in Contemporary French and American Philosophy

By Marvin Farber | Go to book overview

THE SPIRIT OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY AND OF THE SCIENCES IN FRANCE

Émile Bréhier*

In the second half of the nineteenth century, in France as elsewhere, the idea of an a priori reconstruction of the past of philosophy was completely discredited, along with that of a general philosophy of history. At the end of this century and the beginning of our own, we see the development of the great works which employ, in the handling and interpretation of text, the rigorous critical method of the historian. In the history of the sciences, in antiquity and the Middle Ages, Paul Tannery and Pierre Duhem have produced admirable works which have become classics, as have Victor Brochard, Hamelin, and Léon Robin in the history of Greek philosophy. It must be added that the spiritualistic generations which preceded them had made a positive contribution, far from negligible, to the history of philosophy. The historical works of Victor Cousin, of Ravaisson, and of Francisque Bouillier opened up many a new path in the history of philosophy both ancient and modern.

It is out of the question to enumerate here, in detail, just what of the novel France has contributed to this field during the last ten or twenty years. There have been studies and articles without number, due chiefly to the great importance our universities continue to attach to the teaching of the history of philosophy and of the sciences, and to the taste of an enlightened public for the history of ideas. It will be more useful, after

____________________
*
Born in 1876. Member of the Institute of France. Honorary Professor at the Sorbonne. Editor of the Revue philosophique. Author of Histoire de la philosophie, 7 vols. ( 1926- 1932); La philosophie et son passé ( 1940); Les idées philosophiques et religieuses de Philon d'Alexandrie ( 1907); Chrysippe ( 1910); La philosophie de Plotin ( 1928); Plotin Eunéades, Notices, Texte et Traduction, 7 vols. ( 1924- 1938); Science et humanisme ( 1948); La Philosophie du Woyen Age ( 1937); and "Y a-t-il une philosophie chrétienne?" in Revue de métaphysique, 1930.

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