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ALFRED FOUILLÉE BETWEEN SCIENCE AND SPIRITUALISM

  • LARRY S. MCGRATH (a1)
Abstract

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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