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ELIE HALEVY AND PHILOSOPHICAL RADICALISM

  • LUDOVIC FROBERT (a1)
Abstract

In 1995, the Presses universitaires de France re-published (for the very first time in French) Elie Halévy's classic book La formation du radicalisme philosophique (first edition 1901–4). Startlingly, in the afterword of volume 1, Jean-Pierre Dupuy explained that even if this book on Bentham and his school of thought has been considered a classic and one of the first serious historical studies in any language, Halévy had been a “bad interpreter” of utilitarianism.

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1 Dupuy Jean-Pierre, “Postface,” in Elie Halévy, La formation du radicalisme philosophique, vol. 1, La jeunesse de Bentham (1776–1789) (Paris, 1995). The main themes of this preface were immediately republished in an article by Dupuy, “Elie Halévy mauvais interprète de l’utilitarisme,” La Revue du MAUSS, 6 (1995) 61–79. Dupuy's article relied on claims first made by Francisco Vergara, “Utilitariasme et hedonisme: Une critique d’Elie Halévy . . . et de quelques autres,” Economie et sociétés, 29 (1995), 31–60, série PE; and Vergara, “Une critique d’Elie Halévy: Réfutation d’une importante déformation de la philosophie britannique,” Philosophy, 73 (1998), 97–111. Dupuy and Vergara's analytic claims have been criticized by Mongin Philippe and Sigot Nathalie, “Halévy's Bentham IS Bentham,” Philosophy, 74 (1999), 271–81.

2 Parsons Talcott, “Utilitarianism: Sociological Thought,” International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 16 (1968) 229–36.

3 Caillé Alain, “Présentation,” La Revue de MAUSS, 6 (1995), 414.

4 Girard René, La Violence et le Sacré (Paris, 1972).

5 Stephen Leslie, The English Utilitarians, 3 vols. (London, 1900).

6 Gillespie Charles C., “The Work of Elie Halévy: A Critical Appreciation,” Journal of Modern History, 22 (1950), 232–49.

7 Marrou Henri Iréné, De la connaissance historique (Paris, 1975; first published 1954).

8 Halévy Elie to Bouglé Célestin (26 June 1900), Correspondance (1891–1937), ed. Henriette Guy-Loë (Paris, 1996), 281.

9 Viner Jacob, “Bentham and J. Mill: The Utilitarian Background,” American Economic Review, 39 (1949), 360–82, 368.

10 Robbins Lionel, The Theory of Economic Policy in English Classical Political Economy (London, 1952), 192–3. See also the study of West Edward G., Adam Smith and Modern Economics (Brookfield, VT, 1990). In his 1966 study of Mandeville, Hayek presented the same criticism of Halévy and noted, “the identity of interests was thus neither ‘natural’ in the sense that is independent of the institutions which had been formed by men's actions, nor ‘artificial’ in the sense that it was brought about by deliberate arrangement, but the result of spontaneously grown institutions which had developed because they made those societies prosper which tumbled upon them.” See Hayek Friedrich, “Dr. Bernard Mandeville,” in The Collected Works of Friedrich Hayek (London, 1991), 3: 91.

11 For the various discussions and commentaries on Halévy's book see L. J. Hume's survey, “Revisionism in Bentham Studies,” Bentham Newsletter (May 1978), 4–20.

12 Elie Halévy to Célestin Bouglé (19 Oct. 1896), Correspondance (1891–1937), 184.

13 Elie Halévy to Florence Halévy (28 Dec. 1906), Correspondance (1891–1937), 382.

14 On the notion of “two Frances” see the classical thesis of Digeon Claude, La crise allemande de la pensée française (Paris, 1956). For the distinction between the “Party of Movement” and the “Party of Order” see Goguel François, La politique des partis sous la IIIe République (Paris, 1958).

15 Halévy Elie, The Era of Tyrannies, trans. Webb R. K. (New York, 1966; first published 1938), 269. Biographical information can be found in Raymond Aron, “Pour le centenaire de Elie Halévy,” Bulletin de la société française de philosophie (1970), 1–31; Chase Myrna, Elie Halévy: An Intellectual Biography (New York, 1980); François Furet, “Préface,” in Elie Halévy Correspondance (1891–1937), 19–54.

16 See Frobert Ludovic, Elie Halévy: République et économie (1896–1914) (Villeneuve d’Ascq, 2003).

17 Elie Halévy, “Les principes de la distribution des richesses,” Revue de métaphysique et de morale, 14 (1906), 593, 594.

18 Christophe Prochasson, “Philosopher au XXe siècle: Xavier Léon et l’invention du système R2M (1891–1902),” Revue de métaphysique et de morale (1993), 109–40.

19 Descombes Vincent, Modern French Philosophy (Cambridge, 1980), 11.

20 Ferry Luc and Renaut Alain, Political Philosophy, vol. 3, From the Rights of Man to the Republican Idea (Chicago, 1992), 123. Also see Nicolet Claude, L’idée républicaine en France (1789–1924) (Paris, 1982).

21 Notable here is Halévy's involvement in the Dreyfus affair. See his Correspondance (1891–1937), 203–40; and Duclert Vincent, L’affaire Dreyfus (Paris, 1996).

22 Revue de métaphysique et de morale, 9 (1901), supplement, 4, original emphasis. All reviews were anonymous. However, in this case (and numerous others) we can assume Halévy was the author, since he took personal responsibility for reviewing the works of English economists.

23 Halévy, La formation du radicalism philosophique; Halévy, Thomas Hodgskin (1787–1869) (Paris, 1903); Halévy, “La doctrine économique saint-simonienne,” La Revue du Mois, (1908), 641–76, 39–75.

24 Halévy, “Les principes de la distribution des richesses.”

25 Bulletin de la société française de philosophie (1905), 197–8.

26 Elie Halévy, “La naissance du Méthodisme en Angleterre,” La revue de Paris (1906), 519–39, 841–67; Halévy, Histoire du peuple anglais au XIXe siècle, vol. 1, L’Angleterre en 1815 (Paris, 1912).

27 Elie Halévy, La théorie platonicienne des sciences (Paris, 1896), ii.

28 Ibid., i–ii.

29 Ibid., viii.

30 Ibid., x.

31 Elie Halévy to Célestin Bouglé, 15 May (1898) Correspondance (1891–1937), 247, original emphasis.

32 Halévy, La théorie platonicienne des sciences, xxiii.

33 Halévy Elie, The Growth of Philosophic Radicalism, trans. Morris Mary (London, 1949), xv.

34 Ibid., 33.

35 Halévy referred to Marx as a “synthesizer,” not a “great creator of ideas.” Halévy Elie, Histoire du socialisme européen (Paris, 1948), 75.

36 Halévy, The Growth of Philosophic Radicalism, 491–2.

37 Ibid., 496.

38 Ibid., 486.

39 Ibid., 434.

40 Ibid., 476–7.

41 Ibid., 477–8.

42 Revue de métaphysique et de morale, 9 (1901), supplement, 12. Halévy's main works in psychology were “Quelques remarques sur l’irréversibilité des phénomènes psychologiques,” Revue de métaphysique et de morale, 4 (1896), 756–77; “L’explication du sentiment,” Revue de metaphysique et de morale, 5 (1897), 703–24; “De l’association des idées”, Bibliothèque du congrès de 1900 (Paris, 1900), 219–35; De concatenatione quae inter affectiones mentis propter similitudinem fieri dicitur, Latin thesis (Paris, 1901).

43 Halévy, The Growth of Philosophic Radicalism, 487.

44 Ibid., 489.

45 See Mongin Philippe, “Le libéralisme, l’utilitariame et l’économie politique classique dans l’interprétation d’Elie Halévy,” Revue du MAUSS, 10 (1990), 135–69.

46 Halévy, The Growth of Philosophic Radicalism, 489–90.

47 Ibid., 490.

48 Ibid.

49 Ibid., 491.

50 Halévy's dialectic was perfectly described by Aron: “The mechanism of contradiction seems to me to be more or less the following. Fundamental principle: interest. Derivation: the interest of the greatest number. Contradictory hypotheses: the interests of different groups are spontaneously reconciled, through the functioning of the market, by the competition of egoisms. In certain cases, with regard to the rent or even, more generally, with regard to distribution of wealth according to Ricardo, the reconciliation does not occur by itself. Thus an intervention of the law or the state imposes itself. The principle of interest, in accordance with the mode of reconciling interests, thus leads either in the direction of socialism or in the direction of liberalism. But this contradiction is not Hegelian, it does not resolve itself with syntheses but with compromises. Starting with a common trunk, we follow the different branches as they separate themselves, distance themselves from one another, and then come closer to one another. Raymond Aron, “Pour le centenaire de Elie Halévy,” 28.

51 See Frobert, Elie Halévy: République et économie, 34–49; and Frobert, “Elie Halévy's First Lectures on the History of European Socialism,” Journal of the History of Ideas, 68 (2007), 329–53.

52 Halévy, The Growth of Philosophic Radicalism, 492.

53 Ibid.

54 Ibid., 493–4.

55 Ibid., 495.

56 Ibid., 496.

57 Ibid., 498.

58 Ibid., 499.

59 Ibid., 499.

60 Ibid., 500.

61 Ibid., 501.

62 Ibid., 503.

63 Ibid.

64 Ibid., 504.

65 Ibid., 506.

66 Ibid., 508.

67 Ibid.

68 Ibid., 106.

69 Ibid., 10.

70 Ibid., 90.

71 Ibid., 105.

72 Ibid., 225.

73 Ibid., 230.

74 Ibid., 230–31 (emphasis in original).

75 Ibid., 231.

76 Ibid., 230.

77 Elie Halévy, Histoire du peuple Anglais au XIXe siècle, vol. 3, De la crise du Reform Bill à l’avènement de Sir Robert Peel Bill (1830–1841) (Paris, 1923), 316.

78 Halévy, The Growth of Philosophic Radicalism, 514.

79 “Compte-rendu de la séance générale du IIème Congrès International de Philosophie,” Revue de métaphysique et de morale, 12 (1904), 1103–13.

80 Elie Halévy to Célestin Bouglé (24 Nov. 1902), Correspondance (1891–1937), 329.

81 Halévy, “Les principes de la distribution des richesses,” 548–9.

82 Aron Raymond, “L’ère des tyrannies d’Elie Halévy,” Revue de métaphysique et de morale, 46 (1939), 283307.

83 Review of Célestin Bouglé's Le solidarisme, in Revue de métaphysique et de morale (1907), supplément, 5.

84 Halévy Elie, “Grandeur, décadence et persistence du libéralisme en Angleterre,” in Elie Halévy et al., Inventaires: Le crise sociale et les idéologies nationales (Paris, 1936), 23.

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Modern Intellectual History
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