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This essay examines the rapprochement between science and metaphysics that the French philosopher Alfred Fouillée staged in his writings from 1872 up until his death in 1912. Amidst the influx of new research in scientific psychology inundating France in the late nineteenth century, Fouillée's thought stands out for its creative effort to advance a new spiritualist philosophy on the basis of positive scientific advancements. Fouillée's work is significant for intellectual historians of thought in the fin de siècle because it challenges the common historiographical narrative, initially presented in H. Stuart Hughes's Consciousness and Society, which erroneously frames spiritualist thinkers, Henri Bergson chief among them, as leading a “revolt against positivism.” Fouillée throws into stark relief a new spiritualist current that incorporated research in the natural and human sciences from across Europe in order to craft an updated understanding of consciousness. This essay treats Fouillée's work as a historical window onto a distinctly new spiritualism whose proponents sought to overcome the old spiritualism of Victor Cousin's eclectic school, which shunned any naturalist underpinning of metaphysics. While Fouillée has already been widely historicized as a social and political thinker, this essay introduces original archival materials that help to resituate Fouillée as a leading figure of the new spiritualism animating French philosophy in the final quarter of the nineteenth century.

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1 Fouillée, Alfred, “La crise actuelle de la métaphysique. I—La métaphysique et la poésie de l’idéal,” Revue des deux mondes, 86 (1888), 110–40, 110, original emphasis. All translations from the original French are my own unless otherwise noted.

2 Hughes, H. Stuart, Consciousness and Society: The Reorientation of European Social Thought, 1890–1930 (New York, 1958), 3366. Hughes uses the term “positivism” in a loose sense “to characterize the whole tendency to discuss human behavior in terms of analogies drawn from natural science.” Ibid., 37.

3 Goldstein, Jan, The Post-revolutionary Self: Politics and Psyche in France, 1750–1850 (Cambridge, MA, 2005), 6.

4 Janet, Paul, “Une nouvelle phase de la philosophie spiritualiste,” Revue des deux mondes, 108 (1873), 383.

5 Fouillée, Alfred, “La philosophie des idées-forces: comme conciliation du naturalisme et de l’idéalisme,” Revue philosophique, 8 (1879), 132.

6 Lindenfeld, Davidcritiques Hughes on similar grounds, though he does not mention French spiritualism, in The Transformation of Positivism: Alexius Meinong and European Thought, 1880–1920 (Berkeley, CA, 1980), 7.

7 Gronin, R. C. depicts the spiritualist period as a religious revival in The Bergsonian Controversy in France, 1900–1914 (Calgary, 1988), 120.

8 Burrow, J. W., The Crisis of Reason: European Thought, 1848–191 (New Haven, 2000), 5667.

9 Winders, James A., European Culture since 1848, from Modern to Postmodern and Beyond (New York, 2001), 94.

10 Laqueur, Thomas, “Why the Margins Matter: Occultism and the Making of Modernity,” Modern Intellectual History, 3/1 (2006), 112.

11 The thinkers that Kloppenberg identifies in his configuration are Fouillée, Alfred, Dilthey, Wilhelm, Green, Thomas Hill, Sidgwick, Henry, James, William, Dewey, John. and Kloppenberg, James, Uncertain Victory: Social Democracy and Progressivism in European and American Thought, 1870–1920 (New York, 1988).

12 Ibid., 26.

13 Logue, William, From Philosophy to Sociology: The Evolution of French Liberalism, 1870–1914 (Dekalb, IL, 1983), 10.

14 Scott, John A., Republican Ideas and the Liberal Tradition in France, 1870–1914 (New York, 1966), 159–69.

15 Among American historians, Hayward, J. E. S. has pursued the most sustained analysis of “solidarity” in Fouillée: “Solidarity: The Social History of an Idea in Nineteenth Century France,” International Review of Social History, 4 (1959), 261–84; Hayward, , “‘Solidarity’ and the Reformist Sociology of Alfred Fouillée I,” American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 22/1 (January 1963), 205–22; Hayward, , “‘Solidarity’ and the Reformist Sociology of Alfred Fouillée II,” American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 22/2 (March 1963), 303–12; also see Rosanvallon, Pierre, Le modèle politique français: Société civile contre la jacobinisme de 1789 à nos jours (Paris, 2004); Spitz, Jean-Fabien, Le moment républicain en France (Paris, 2005); Blais, Marie-Claude, La solidarité: Histoire d’une idée (Paris, 2007).

16 Fedi, Laurent, “Entre organicisme et individualisme, la concurrence des philosophes sociales, en France, vers 1900,” Frédéric Worms, ed., in Le moment 1900 en philosophie (Lille, 2004), 370.

17 Fouillée to Ferdinand Brunetière, 22 Aug. 1902, Fonds Brunetière, Bibliothèque nationale de France, NAF 25038.

18 My biography draws from Guyau, Augustin, La philosophie et la sociologie d’Alfred Fouillée (Paris, 1913).

19 Fouillée, Alfred, La philosophie de Platon: Exposition, histoire et critique de la théorie des idées (Paris, 1869), 728.

20 La République française, 26 Dec. 1872, article not signed.

21 Guyau, La philosophie et la sociologie d’Alfred Fouillée, xii.

22 Ibid., xiii.

23 See most recently Onfray, Michel, La construction du surhomme: Jean-Marie Guyau, Friedrich Nietzsche (Paris, 2011).

24 Michon, John A., Pouthas, Viviane, and Jackson, Janet L., Guyau and the Idea of Time (Amsterdam and New York, 1988), 1922.

25 Ozouf, Jacques and Ozouf, Mona, “Le tour de la France par deux enfants,” in Pierre Nora and David P. Jordan, eds., Les lieux de mémoire, vol. 1 (Paris, 1997), 290.

26 Ribot, Thédolue, “Philosophy in France,” Mind, 2/7 (1877), 372, 369.

27 See Nietzsche's copy, Zweistimmigkeit–Einstimmigkeit: Friedrich Nietzsche und Jean-Marie Guyau, ed. Hans Erich Lampl (Cuxhaven, 1990).

28 Quoted in Guyau, La philosophie et la sociologie d’Alfred Fouillée, xv.

29 Ibid.

30 Tarde, Gabriel, “Compte rendu de A. Fouillée, La morale, l’art et la religion d’àpres M. Guyau,” Revue philosophique, 28 (1889), 183.

31 Petrovici, Jean, “Le centenaire d’Alfred Fouillée,” Revue de métaphysique et de morale, 46/4 (1939), 662.

32 See Fouillée, Alfred, Esquisse psychologique des peuples européens (Paris, 1903).

33 Azouvi, François and Bourel, Dominique, “Avant Propos,” in François Azouvi and Dominique Bourel, eds., De Königsberg à Paris: La reception de Kant en France (1788–1804) (Paris, 1991), 1011.

34 See Cousin, Victor, “Souvenirs d’Allemagne,” Revue des deux mondes, 64 (1866), 594620.

35 Victor Cousin, Elements of Psychology, trans. C. S. Henry (Hartford, CT, 1834), 406.

36 Lachelier, Jules, Sur le fondement de l’induction, 2nd edn (Paris, 1896).

37 Frank, Adolphe, Dictionnaire des sciences philosophiques, 2nd edn (Paris, 1875), 1071.

38 Ibid., 422.

39 Fouillée, Alfred, La liberté et le déterminisme (Paris, 1884), 232.

40 Cousin, Victor, Cours de philosophie sur le fondement des idées absolue du vrai, du beau et du bien, ed. Garnier, Adolphe (Paris, 1836), 12.

41 Fouillée, Alfred, “Le néo-Kantisme en France: I—le moral criticiste,” Revue philosophique, 11 (1881), 3.

42 See Logue, William, Charles Renouvier, Philosopher of Liberty (Baton Rouge, LA, 1992).

43 Darlu, Alphonse, “La liberté et le déterminisme selon M. Fouillée,” Revue philosophique, 23 (1887), 563.

44 Fouillée, La liberté et le déterminisme, 245.

45 Ibid.

46 See Revill, Joel, “Emile Boutroux, Redefining Science and Faith in the Third Republic,” Modern Intellectual History, 6 (2009), 485512.

47 Fouillée to Renouvier, 4 June 1888, in Corpus: Revue de philosophie, 53, ed. Jean Lawruszenko and Jordi Riba (2008), 261, original emphasis.

48 Fouillée, Alfred, Le mouvement idéaliste et la réaction contre la science positive, 2nd edn (Paris, 1896), xvii.

49 Burrow, The Crisis of Reason, 54.

50 Simon, W. M. argues that Comtian positivism had found few adherents in France by the 1880s in European Positivism in the Nineteenth Century (Ithaca, NY, 1963).

51 Egger, Victor, “La psychologie physiologique,” Revue philosophique, 5 (1878), 233.

52 Ibid.

53 Richet, Charles, “Sur la méthode de la psychologie physiologique,” Revue philosophique, 5 (1878), 33.

54 Fouillée to Ernest Havet, 8 March 1883, Fonds Havet, Bibliothèque nationale de France, NAF 24474, original emphasis.

55 Dominique Janicaud, Une genealogie du spiritualisme français. Aux sources du bergsonisme: Ravaisson et la métaphysique (Le Haye, 1969); later re-edited and published as Ravaisson et la métaphysique: Une généalogie du spiritualisme français (Paris, 1998).

56 See Antliff, Mark, Inventing Bergson: Cultural Politics and the Parisian Avant-Garde (Princeton, NY, 1993); Gillies, Mary Ann, Henri Bergson and British Modernism (Montreal, 1996); Gontarski, S. E., Ardoin, Paul, and Marrison, Laci, eds., Understanding Bergson, Understanding Modernism (New York, 2012).

57 Seigel, Jerrold, The Idea of the Self: Thought and Experience in Western Europe since the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge, 2005), 251. Henri Gouhier originally used the term “spiritualist positivism” to characterize French spiritualism in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. See the “Introduction” to Oeuvres choisies de Maine de Biran (Paris, 1942), 22.

58 Fouillée, Alfred, La pensée et les nouvelles écoles anti-intellectualistes (Paris, 1911), 347.

59 Vacherot, Étienne, Le nouveau spiritualisme (Paris, 1884), i, original emphasis.

60 For a discussion of France's exception from European interest in Darwin see Cannon, H. Graham, The Evolution of Living Things (Manchester, 1958), 1720.

61 Spencer, Herbert, Principles of Psychology (London, 1855), 517.

62 Ibid., 620.

63 Fouillée, Alfred, L’evolutionnisme des idées-forces (Paris, 1890), xxxii.

64 Ibid., original emphasis.

65 Ibid., xliv.

66 Ibid., xi, original emphasis.

67 Ibid., liv, original emphasis.

68 Ibid., 196.

69 Contini, Annamaria, “L’intelligence créatrice: Puissance et volonté de conscience dans la philosophie d’Alfred Fouillée,” Corpus, 53 (2008), 43.

70 See Solms, Mark and Turnbull, Oliver, The Brain and the Inner World: An Introduction to the Neuroscience of Subjective Experience (New York, 2002), 116.

71 Young, Robert, Mind, Brain, and Adaptation in the Nineteenth Century (New York, 1990), 93.

72 Fouillée, L’evolutionnisme des idées-forces, xliv, original emphasis. The standard translation of pâtir is “to suffer from,” but I have translated it as “being passive” in order to better capture the obverse active and passive modalities of the will.

73 Becquemont, Daniel and Mucchielli, Laurent, Le cas Spencer (Paris, 1998), 273.

74 Bergson, Henri, Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness, trans. Pogson, F. L. (New York, 2001), 128, original emphasis.

75 Bergson, Henri, La pensée et le mouvant (Paris, 1934), 8.

76 Bergson, Time and Free Will, 196.

77 Fouillée, L’evolutionnisme des idées-forces, liv.

78 Worms, Frédéric, La philosophie en France au XXe siècle (Paris, 2011), 37, original emphasis.

79 Ibid., 39, original emphasis.

80 Fouillée, L’evolutionnisme des idées-forces, lix, original emphasis.

81 Ibid., original emphasis.

82 Ibid.

83 Guyau, La philosophie et la sociologie d’Alfred Fouillée, 88.

84 Ibid.

85 Nicolas, Serge and Charvillat, Agnès, “Introducing Psychology as an Academic Discipline in France: Théodule Ribot and the Collège de France (1888–1901),” Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 37/2 (2001), 151.

86 Roth, Michael S., “Remembering Forgetting: Maladies de la Mémoire in Nineteenth-Century France,” Representations, 26 (1989), 50.

87 Ribot, Théodule, Les maladies de la mémoire (Paris, 1880), 1.

88 Ibid., 83.

89 Fouillée, Alfred, “Introduction,” in Guyau, Jean Marie, La genèse de l’idée du temps (Paris, 1890), xxxii.

90 Kant, Immanuel, Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Norman Kemp Smith (Basingstoke, 1933), 77.

91 Fouillée, Alfred, “La mémoire et la reconnaissance des idées,” Revue des deux mondes, 70 (1885), 146.

92 Ribot, Les maladies de la mémoire, 36.

93 Ibid., 39.

94 Fouillée, “La mémoire et la reconnaissance des idées,” 146.

95 Fouillée, Alfred, “La survivance et la sélection des idées dans la mémoire,” Revue des deux mondes, 69 (1885), 367.

96 Ibid., 362–3.

97 Fouillée, “La mémoire et la reconnaissance des idées,” 147; Ribot, Les maladies de la mémoire, 41.

98 Guyau, La genèse de l’idée du temps, 50.

99 Ibid., 50.

100 Ibid., 117.

101 Fouillée, “La mémoire et la reconnaissance des idées,” 148.

102 Ibid., 160

103 Bergson, Henri, “Analyse de l’ouvrage de Guyau: La genèse de l’idée de temps avec un introduction par Albert [sic] Fouillée,” Revue philosophique, 31 (1891), 187.

104 Bergson, Henri, Matter and Memory, trans. Margaret Paul and W. Scott Palmer (London, 1911), 112, original emphasis.

105 Guyau, La philosophie et la sociologie d’Alfred Fouillée, 88.

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Modern Intellectual History
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