Maurice Blondel

Last updated

Maurice Blondel
Born 2 November 1861
Dijon
Died4 June 1949 (1949-06-05) (aged 87)
Aix-en-Provence
Alma mater École Normale Supérieure
Era 19th-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School French spiritualism
Main interests
Philosophy of action
Christian philosophy
Notable ideas
Philosophy of action

Maurice Blondel (French:  [blɔ̃dɛl] ; 2 November 1861 – 4 June 1949) was a French philosopher, whose most influential works, notably L'Action, aimed at establishing the correct relationship between autonomous philosophical reasoning and Christian belief.

Philosopher person with an extensive knowledge of philosophy

A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term "philosopher" comes from the Ancient Greek, φιλόσοφος (philosophos), meaning "lover of wisdom". The coining of the term has been attributed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras.

Contents

Biography

Blondel was born in Dijon in 1861. He came from a family who were traditionally connected to the legal profession, but chose early in life to follow a career in philosophy. In 1881, he gained admission to the École Normale Supérieure of Paris. In 1893 he finished his thesis "L'Action" (Action), a critical essay of life and of a science of the practice. He was at this time refused a teaching post (as would have been his due) because his philosophical conclusions were deemed to be too 'Christian' and, therefore, "compromising" of philosophical reason. In 1895, however, with the help of his former teacher Émile Boutroux, he became a Maître de Conférences at Lille, then shortly after at Aix-en-Provence, where he became a professor in 1897. He would remain in Aix-en-Provence for the rest of his career. [2]

Dijon Prefecture and commune in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, France

Dijon is a city in eastern France, capital of the Côte-d'Or département in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region.

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.

Émile Boutroux French philosopher and historian

Étienne Émile Marie Boutroux was an eminent 19th century French philosopher of science and religion, and an historian of philosophy. He was a firm opponent of materialism in science. He was a spiritual philosopher who defended the idea that religion and science are compatible at a time when the power of science was rising inexorably. His work is overshadowed in the English-speaking world by that of the more celebrated Henri Bergson. He was elected membership of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences in 1898 and in 1912 to the Académie française.

In L'Action, Blondel developed a "philosophy of action" in which he applies the method of phenomenology. This leads him to the first order issue of "action", critiquing the Enlightenment enshrinement of thought, which he subsumes under the category of action. This leads him to discover the distinction between the willing will and the willed will. This distinction shows a real insufficiency between the two elements of the will. The problem of connaturility - that man cannot desire something which cannot be fulfilled - leads to investigating how the willing will can be fulfilled in the willed will. This insufficiency leads him to eventually hypothesize the supernatural as the only real possibility. He insists that this is as far as a philosopher can go, that the supernatural is the real end of man, and that the content of the supernatural is left to the realm of theology.

His subsequent works, the Letter on Apologetics and History and Dogma, were also connected to the philosophical problem of religion. They unleashed an enormous controversy at the time of publication. Pope Pius X's 1907 encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis targeted the 'Modernist' threat to Catholic thought, and Blondel's thought remained associated (perhaps tenuously) with the Modernists. Blondel, however, was never the target of Pascendi and he received letters, through the Archbishop of Aix, from numerous Popes affirming he was not under suspicion. [3] He did, however, have great influence on later Catholic thought, especially through ressourcement theologians such as Henri de Lubac. [4]

Pope Pius X Catholic Pope and saint

Pope Pius X, born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, was head of the Catholic Church from August 1903 to his death in 1914. Pius X is known for vigorously opposing modernist interpretations of Catholic doctrine, promoting liturgical reforms and orthodox theology. He directed the production of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, the first comprehensive and systemic work of its kind.

Modernism in the Catholic Church liberal theological opinions

In a Catholic context Modernism is a loose gestalt of liberal theological opinions that developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The term came to prominence in Pope Pius X's 1907 encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis, which synthesizes and condemns modernism as embracing every heresy. The movement was influenced by Protestant theologians and clergy, starting with the Tübingen School in the mid-19th century. Pius charged that it was prominent in French and British intellectual circles and, to a lesser extent, in Italy. The term is generally used by critics of rather than adherents to positions associated with it.

His wife died in 1919 and in 1927 he retired for health reasons. Between 1934 and 1937 he published a trilogy dedicated to thought, being and action. In 1935, he published an essay of concrete and integrale ontology "L'être et les êtres" (The Being and the Beings) and in 1946 he published "L'esprit chrétien" (The Christian Spirit).

Ontology study of the nature of being, becoming, existence or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations

Ontology is the philosophical study of being. More broadly, it studies concepts that directly relate to being, in particular becoming, existence, reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology often deals with questions concerning what entities exist or may be said to exist and how such entities may be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences.

Blondel died in Aix-en-Provence in 1949. He was the younger brother of historian Georges Blondel and a first cousin of physicist André Blondel.

Historian person who studies and writes about the past

A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past, and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is concerned with events preceding written history, the individual is a historian of prehistory. Some historians are recognized by publications or training and experience. "Historian" became a professional occupation in the late nineteenth century as research universities were emerging in Germany and elsewhere.

Georges Blondel was a French historian, specialising in the history of Germany and Austria before 1914. Born in 1856 in Dijon, France, Blondel received his doctorate in 1881 and in 1894 was named professor of letters at Lille University. He died in 1948 in Paris.After receiving his doctorate in 1881 and the rank of agrégé in 1883, he was appointed to a chair of law at Lyon in 1884 and 10 years later was named professor of letters at Lille. He later taught at the École des Hautes Études Commerciales and the Collège de France in Paris.

Commonly, "cousin" refers to a "first cousin", people whose most recent common ancestor is a grandparent. A first cousin used to be known as a cousin-german, though this term is rarely used today.

Works

A nine-volume edition of the complete works of Blondel is being published. Two volumes (as of 2013) have been published.

See also

Related Research Articles

Action theory is an area in philosophy concerned with theories about the processes causing willful human bodily movements of a more or less complex kind. This area of thought involves epistemology, ethics, metaphysics, jurisprudence, and philosophy of mind, and has attracted the strong interest of philosophers ever since Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. With the advent of psychology and later neuroscience, many theories of action are now subject to empirical testing.

Étienne Gilson was a French philosopher and historian of philosophy. A scholar of medieval philosophy, he originally specialised in the thought of Descartes, yet also philosophized in the tradition of Thomas Aquinas, although he did not consider himself a Neo-Thomist philosopher. In 1946 he attained the distinction of being elected an "Immortal" (member) of the Académie française. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Marcel Conche French philosopher

Marcel Conche, is a French philosopher, emeritus professor at the Sorbonne University (Paris).

Jean-Yves Lacoste is a French philosopher. Lacoste is associated with what Dominique Janicaud called the "theological turn in phenomenology", along with other influential French phenomenologists like Michel Henry, Jean-Luc Marion and Jean-Louis Chrétien. Lacoste's work straddles philosophy and theology, and displays an interest in what might be called postmodern themes. He works in Paris and Cambridge and has a life membership at Clare Hall, Cambridge.

Ferdinand Alquié (French: [alkje]; was a French philosopher and member of the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques from 1978. In the years 1931 to 1945 he was a professor in various provincial and Parisian lycees, and later at the University of Montpellier and Sorbonne where he worked until he retired in 1979.

Gaston Berger was a French futurist but also an industrialist, a philosopher and a state manager. He is mainly known for his remarkably lucid analysis of Edmund Husserl's phenomenology and for his studies on the character structure.

Marc Fumaroli, is a French historian and essayist. Fumaroli was elected to the Académie française on 2 March 1995 and became its director. He is also a member of the Académie des Inscriptions, the sister academy devoted to high erudition. Following his appointment to a chair in Seventeenth Century Studies at the University of Paris-IV, La Sorbonne (1980), he was elected to a Chair in Rhetoric and Society in Europe at the Collège de France. He held it from 1986 to 2002, until mandatory retirement, and is now an emeritus professor. He is acknowledged for the revival of Rhetoric as field of study of European culture, in a sharp move away from both structuralism and post-modernism. His pioneering work remains L'Age De l'Eloquence (1980). This massive work redrew the map of rhetorical scholarship across Europe. Fumaroli was also a member of the University of Chicago's Committee on Social Thought. He is a recipient of the prestigious Balzan Prize, the "Nobel" of the humanities. He is a foreign member of the British Academy and of the American Philosophical Society.

Abbé Auguste-Théodore-Paul de Broglie was professor of apologetics at the Institut Catholique in Paris, and writer on apologetic subjects.

Pierre Grimal was a French historian, classicist and Latinist. Fascinated by the Greek and Roman civilizations, he did much to promote the cultural inheritance of the classical world, both among specialists and the general public.

Jules Vuillemin French philosopher

Jules Vuillemin was a French philosopher, Professor of Philosophy of Knowledge at the prestigious Collège de France, in Paris, from 1962 to 1990, succeeding Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Professor emeritus from 1991 to 2001. He was an Invited Professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies, in Princeton, New Jersey (1968).

Auguste Nicolas was a French Roman Catholic apologetical writer.

Pierre Batiffol – was a French Catholic priest and prominent theologian, specialising in Church history. He had also a particular interest in the history of dogma.

Illtyd Trethowan, born as Kenneth Trethowan, was an English priest, philosopher and author. For more than thirty years he was the sub-prior of Downside Abbey in Somerset and was also a visiting professor in theology at Brown University.

Victor Delbos was a Catholic philosopher and historian of philosophy.

Xavier Tilliette French philosopher

Xavier Tilliette was a French philosopher, historian of philosophy, and theologian. A former student of Jean Wahl and of Vladimir Jankélévitch, he was a member of the Society of Jesus (1938) and professor emeritus at the Catholic Institute of Paris (1969), having taught also at the Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome (1972), the Lateran University, and the Centre Sèvres in Paris.

Joseph D'Aquin was an early pioneer in the field of psychiatry.

Éric Weil was a French-German philosopher noted for the development of a theory that places the effort to understand violence at the center of philosophy. Calling himself a post-Hegelian Kantian, Weil was a key figure in the 20th century reception of Hegel in France, as well as the renewed interest in Kant in that country that has continued to this day. The author of major original works, critical studies, and numerous essays in French his adopted language, as well as German and English, Weil was both an active academic as well as public intellectual. Involved in various fecund moments of French intellectual life, Weil was, for example, a participant in the famous lectures given by Alexandre Kojève on Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, and would go on to play an instrumental role at the journal Critique during its start and then serve as one of its editors for a number of years. An influential teacher, his students, such as Bourdieu, have noted Weil's formative role in their intellectual development. This influence was also at the origin of the creation of the Institut Éric Weil, a foundation and research library created by a group of his former students after his death.

Michel Zink French philologist and professor

Michel Zink is a French writer, medievalist, philologist, and professor of French literature, particularly that of the Middle Ages. He is the Permanent Secretary of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, a title he has held since 2011, and was elected to the Académie française in 2017. In addition to his academic work, he has also written historical crime novels, one of which continues the story of Arsène Lupin.

Claude Gauvard French medievalist

Claude Gauvard is a French historian and Middle Ages specialist. She is also a President of Société de l'histoire de France since 2009.

References

  1. Sutton, Michael (1982). Nationalism, Positivism, and Catholicism. The Politics of Charles Maurras and French Catholics 1890-1914. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN   0-521-22868-9. p. 124.
  2. Michael A Conway, 'Maurice Blondel and Ressourcement ', in Gabriel Flynn and Paul D. Murray, Ressourcement (Oxford: OUP, 2012), p70.
  3. Portier, William (Spring 2011). "Twentieth-Century Catholic Theology and the Triumph of Maurice Blondel" (PDF). Communio.
  4. Michael A Conway, 'Maurice Blondel and Ressourcement ', in Gabriel Flynn and Paul D. Murray, Ressourcement (Oxford: OUP, 2012), p70.

Further reading