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The reaction against positivism and against eclecticism took another form quite apart from that of the neocritical philosophy. This was the triumphant spiritualist philosophy, as we may call it, to give it a general name, represented by a series of great thinkers—Ravaisson, Lachelier, Fouillée, Guyau, Boutroux, Bergson and, we may add, Blondel. These men have all of them had an influence much greater than that of Renouvier, and this is true of each of them separately. This is rather noteworthy for, if we exclude Fouillee, whose writings are rather too numerous, the works of all the other men together do not equal in quantity the work of Renouvier. There is another point which is worthy of notice. While Renouvier worked in comparative solitude and never taught philosophy in any college or university, being, in fact, neglected by the University of Paris, all the company—Ravaisson, Lachelier, Fouillée, Guyau, Boutroux and Bergson—had a connection with the University of Paris in general, being associated with the Sorbonne, the Collège de France or the important Ecole Normale Supérieure.
The initiator of the spiritualistic philosophy was Ravaisson (1815-1900), who himself drew inspiration from Maine de Biran, to whose work he had called attention as early as 1840 in a vigorous article contributed to the Revue des Deux Mondes. This roused the indignation of Victor Cousin and the eclectics, who in revenge excluded Ravaisson from the Institute. His independent spirit had been shown in his thesis De l'Habitude (1838)* and his remarkable study of the metaphysics of Aristotle (1837-1846).
[Footnote *: Reproduced in 1894 in the Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale.]
Ravaisson's chief title to fame, however, lies in his famous philosophic manifesto of 1867, for such, in fact, was his Rapport sur la Philosophie en France au XIXè Siècle. This Report, prepared for the Exposition universelle at the request of the Ministry of Education, marks an epoch, for with it began the current of thought which was to dominate the close of the century. The "manifesto" was a call to free spirits to assert themselves in favour of a valid idealism. It, in itself, laid the foundations of such a philosophy and dealt a blow to both the Eclectic School of Cousin and the followers of Auguste Comte. Ravaisson wrote little, but his influence was powerful and made itself felt in the University, where in his office of president of the agrégation en philosophie he exercised no little influence over the minds of younger men. His pupils, among whom are to be found Lachelier, Boutroux and Bergson, have testified to the profound and inspiring influence which this thinker exercised. A notable tribute to his memory is the address given by Bergson when he was appointed to take Ravaisson's place at the Académie des Sciences morales et politiques in 1904.
Various influences meet in Ravaisson and determine his general attitude to thought. He reverts, as we have said, to Maine de Biran, whose insistence upon the inner life he approves. We must examine human consciousness and make it our basis. We have in it powers of will, of desire and of love. Ravaisson blends the Aristotelian insistence upon Thought with the Christian insistence upon Love. In his method he manifests the influence of the German philosopher, Schelling, whose lectures he attended at Munich in company with the young Swiss thinker, Secretan.* This influence is seen in his doctrine of synthesis and his intellectual intuition. Science continues to give us analyses ever more detailed, but it cannot lead us to the absolute. Our highest, most sublime knowledge is gained by a synthesis presented in and to our consciousness, an intuition. Further, he argues that efficient causes, about which science has so much to say, are really dependent upon final causes. Spiritual reality is anterior to material reality, and is characterised by goodness and beauty. Himself an artist, imbued with a passionate love of the beautiful (he was guardian of sculptures at the Louvre), he constructs a philosophy in the manner of an artist. Like Guyau, he writes metaphysics like poetry, and although he did not give us anything like Vers d'un Philosophe, he would have endorsed the remarks which Guyau made on the relation of poetry and philosophy if, indeed, it is not a fact that his influence inspired the younger man.
[Footnote * : Charles Secretan (1815-1895), a Swiss thinker with whom Renouvier had interesting correspondence. His Philosophie de la Liberté appeared in 1848-1849, followed by other works on religious philosophy. Pillon wrote a monograph upon him.]
After surveying the currents of thought up to 1867 Ravaisson not only summed up in his concluding pages the elements of his own philosophy, but he ventured to assume the role of prophet. "Many signs permit us to foresee in the near future a philosophical epoch of which the general character will be the predominance of what may be called spiritualistic realism or positivism, having as generating principle the consciousness which the mind has of itself as an existence recognised as being the source and support of every other existence, being none other than its action."* His prophecy has been fulfilled in the work of Lachelier, Guyau, Fouillée, Boutroux, Bergson, Blondel and Weber.
[Footnote * : Rapport, 2nd ed., 1885, p. 275.]
After Ravaisson the spiritualist philosophy found expression in the work of Lachelier (1832-1918), a thinker whose importance and whose influence are both quite out of proportion to the small amount which he has written.† A brilliant thesis of only one hundred pages, Du Fondement de l'Induction, sustained in 1871, together with a little study on the Syllogism and a highly important article on Psychologie et Métaphysique, contributed to the Revue philosophique in May of 1885, constitute practically all his written work.* It was orally that he made his influence felt; by his teaching at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (1864-1875) he made a profound impression upon the youth of the University and the Ecole by the dignity and richness of his thought, as well as by its thoroughness.
[Footnote † : Dr. Merz, in his admirable History of European Thought in the Nineteenth Century, is wrong in regard to Lachelier's dates; he confuses his resignation of professorship (1875) with his death. This, however, did not occur until as late as 1918. See the references in Mertz, vol. iii., p. 620, and vol. iv., p. 217.]
[Footnote * : The thesis and the article have been published together by Alcan, accompanied by notes on Pascal's Wager. The Etude sur le Syllogisme also forms a volume in Alcan's Bibliothèque de Philosophie contemporaine.]
Lachelier was a pupil of Ravaisson, and owes his initial inspiration to him. He had, however, a much more rigorous and precise attitude to problems. This is apparent in the concentration of thought contained in his thesis. It is one of Lachelier's merits that he recognised the significance of Kant's work in a very profound manner. Until his thesis appeared the influence of Leibnitz had been more noticeable in French thought than that of Kant. It was noticeable in Ravaisson, and Renouvier, in spite of his professed adherence to Kant, passed to a Leibnitzian position in his Nouvelle Monadologie.
The valuable work Du Fondement de l'Induction is concerned mainly with the problem of final causes, which Lachelier deduces from the necessity of totality judgments over and above those which concern merely efficient causes. On the principle of final causes, or a ideological conception of a rational unity and order, he founds Induction. It cannot be founded, he claims, upon a mere empiricism. This is a point which will concern us later in our examination of the problem of science.
Lachelier was left, however, with the dualism of mechanism, operating solely by efficient causes, and teleology manifested in final causes, a dualism from which Kant did not manage to escape. In his article Psychologic et Métaphysique he endeavoured to interpret mechanism itself as a teleological activity of the spirit.* He indicates the absolute basis of our life and experience, indeed of the universe itself, to be the absolute spontaneity of spirit. In spirit and in freedom we live and move and have our being. We do not affirm ourselves to be what we are, but rather we are what we affirm ourselves to be. We must not say that our present depends upon our past, for we really create all the moments of our life in one and the same act, which is both present to each moment and above them all.† Here psychology appears as the science of thought itself and resolves itself into metaphysics. Here, too, we find the significance of the new spiritualism; we see its affinity with, and its contrast to, the doctrines of the older spiritualism as professed by Cousin. Lachelier here strikes the note which is so clearly characteristic of this current of thought, and is no less marked in his work than in that of Bergson—namely, a belief in the supremacy of spirit and in the reality of freedom.
[Footnote * : It is interesting to compare this with the attitude taken by Lotze in Germany.]
[Footnote † : Psychologie et Métaphysique, p. 171.]
The notion of freedom and of the spontaneity of the spirit became watchwords of the new spiritualist philosophers. Under the work and influence of Boutroux (1845-1921) these ideas were further emphasised and worked out more definitely to a position which assumes a critical attitude to the dogmatism of modern science and establishes a contingency in all things. Boutroux's thesis De la Contingence des Lois de la Nature appeared in 1874 and was dedicated to Ravaisson. His chief fame and his importance in the development of the spiritualist philosophy rest upon this book alone. In 1894 he published a course of lectures given at the Sorbonne in 1892-3, Sur l'Idée de Loi naturelle, which supplements the thesis. Outside his own country attention has been more readily bestowed upon his writings on the history of philosophy, of which subject he was Professor. In his own country, however, great interest and value are attached to his work on The Contingency of the Laws of Nature. In this Boutroux combines the attitude of Ravaisson with that of Lachelier. The totality of the laws of the universe manifests, according to him, a contingency. No explanation of these laws is possible apart from a free spiritual activity. The stress laid upon contingency in the laws of nature culminates in the belief in the freedom of man.
The critique of science which marked Boutroux's work has profoundly influenced thinkers like Hannequin, Payot and Milhaud,* and in the following century appears in the work of Duhem and of Henri Poincaré, the noted mathematician, whose books on La Science et l'Hypothèse (1902), La Valeur de la Science (1905), and Science et Méthode (1909) have confirmed many of Boutroux's conclusions.†
[Footnote * : Hannequin's notable work is the Essai critique sur I'Hypothèse des Atomes (1896). Payot's chief book is La Croyance (1896). Milhaud's critique of science is contained in his Essai sur les Conditions et les Limites de la Certitude logique (1894), and in Le Rationnel (1898). Duhem's book is La Théorie physique (1906).]
[Footnote †: It is interesting to note that Boutroux married Poincaré's sister, and that his son, Pierre Boutroux, whose education was guided by both his uncle and his father, is now Professor at the Collège de France. Emile Boutroux was a pupil of Zeller, whose lectures on Greek philosophy he attended in Heidelberg, 1868. He expressed to the writer his grief at the later prostitution of German thought to nationalist and materialist aims. He was Professor of the History of Philosophy in Paris from 1888, then Honorary Professor of Modern Philosophy. In 1914 he gave the Hertz Lecture to the British Academy on Certitude et Vérité. He was until his death Directeur de la Fondation Thiers, a college for post-graduate study, literary, philosophical and scientific.]
While the new spiritualist current was thus tending to a position far removed from that of Taine, at the commencement of our period, a wavering note was struck by the idealist Fouillée (1838-1912), who, while maintaining a general attitude in harmony with the new doctrines endeavoured to effect a reconciliation with the more positive attitude to science and philosophy. In his philosophie des ideés-forces* he endeavoured to combine and reconcile the diverging attitudes of Plato and of Comte. He shows a scorn of the neo-critical though of Renouvier. He wrote in his shorter life more books than did Renouvier, and he is conspicuous among this later group of thinkers for his mass-production of books, which appeared steadily at the rate of one per annum to the extent of some thirty-seven volumes, after he gave up his position as maître de conférence at the Ecole Normale owing to ill-health.†
[Footnote * : His Evolutionnisme des Idées-forces appeared in 1890, La Psychologie des Idées-forces three years later. His Morale des Idées-forces belongs to the next century (1907), but its principles were contained already in his thesis Liberté et Déterminisme.]
[Footnote † : He only held this for three years, 1872-75.]
Fouillée, with the noblest intentions, set himself to the solution of that problem which we have already indicated as being the central one of our period, the relation of science and ethics, or, in brief, the problem of freedom. This was the subject of his thesis, undoubtedly the best book he ever wrote, La Liberté et le Déterminisme, which he sustained in 1872.‡ The attitude which he takes in that work is the keynote to his entire philosophy. Well grounded in a knowledge of the history of systems of philosophy, ancient and modern, he recognises elements of truth in each, accompanied by errors due mainly to a one-sided perspective.§ He recalls a statement of Leibnitz to the effect that most systems are right in their assertions and err in their denials. Fouillée was convinced that there was reconciliation at the heart of things, and that the contradictions we see are due to our point of view. Facing, therefore, in this spirit, the problems of the hour, he set himself "to reconcile the findings of science with the reality of spirit, to establish harmony between the determinism upheld by science and the liberty which the human spirit acclaims, between the mechanism of nature and the aspirations of man's heart, between the True which is the object of all science and the Good which is the goal of morality."*
[Footnote ‡ : This work created quite a stir in the intellectual and political world in France just after the war. Fouillée's book led to an attack on the ministry, which did not go so far as that occasioned by Renouvier's volume in 1849. (See p. 61.)]
[Footnote § : Fouillée stands in marked contrast to Comte in his general acquaintance with the history of ideas. Comte, like Spencer, knew little of any philosophy but his own. Fouillée, however, was well schooled, not only in Plato and the ancients, but had intimate knowledge of the work of Kant, Comte, Spencer, Lotze, Renouvier, Lachelier, Boutroux and Bergson.]
[Footnote * : This is also the idea expressed at length in his Avenir de la Métaphysique, 1889.]
Fouillée had no desire to offer merely another eclecticism à la mode de Cousin; he selects, therefore, his own principle of procedure. This principle is found in his notion of idée-force. Following ancient usage, he employs the term "idea" for any mental presentation. For Fouillée, however, ideas are not idées-spectacles, merely exercising a platonic influence "remote as the stars shining above us." They are not merely mental reproductions of an object, real or hypothetical, outside the mind. Ideas are in themselves forces which endeavour to work out their own realisation. Fouillée opposes his doctrine to the evolutionary theory of Spencer and Huxley. He disagrees with their mechanism and epiphenomenalism, pointing out legitimately that our ideas, far from being results of purely physical and independent causes, are themselves factors, and very vital factors, in the process of evolution. Fouillée looks upon the mechanistic arrangement of the world as an expression or symbol of idea or spirit in a manner not unlike that of Lotze.
He bears out his view of idées-forces by showing how a state of consciousness tries to realise its object. The idea of movement is closely bound up with the physiological and physical action, and, moreover, tends to produce it. This realisation is not a merely mechanistic process but is teleological and depends on the vital unity between the physical and the mental. On this fundamental notion Fouillée constructs his psychology, his ethic, his sociology and his metaphysic. He sees in the evolutionary process ideas at work which tend to realise themselves. One of these is the idea of freedom, in which idea he endeavours to find a true reconciliation of the problem of determinism in science and the demands of the human spirit which declares itself free. The love of freedom arising from the idea of freedom creates in the long run this freedom. This is Fouillée's method all through. "To conceive and to desire the ideal is already to begin its realisation." He applies his method with much success in the realm of ethics and sociology where he opposes to the Marxian doctrine of a materialist determination of history that of a spiritual and intellectual determination by ideas. Fouillée's philosophy is at once intellectual and voluntarist. He has himself described it as "spiritualistic voluntarism." It is a system of idealism which reflects almost all the elements of modern thought. In places his doctrine of reconciliation appears to break down, and the psychological law summed up in idées-forces is hardly sufficient to bear the vast erection which Fouillée builds upon it. The idea is nevertheless a valuable and fruitful one. Fouillée's respect for positive science is noteworthy, as is also his great interest in social problems.*
[Footnote * : At the end of the century these problems received highly specialised attention in the work of the sociologists inspired by Comte's influence. Works of special merit in this direction are: tspmas, with his Société's animales (1876) and Tarde, predecessor of Bergson at the Collège de France (1843-1907), with his Criminalité comparée (1898) and Les Lois de l'Imitation (1900), also Durkheim's work De la Division du Travail social (1893) and Les Régles de la Méthode sociologique (1894), and Izoulet, with his La Cité moderne (1894). Note those of Levy-Bruhl, Bouglé, and Le Bon.]
The importance of the sociological aspect of all problems was emphasised in a brilliant manner by Guyau (1854-1888), the step-son of Fouillée. Guyau was a gifted young man, whose death at the early age of thirty-four was a sore bereavement for Fouillée and undoubtedly a disaster for philosophy. Guyau was trained by his step-father,* and assisted him in his work. When ill-health forced both men from their professorships,† they lived in happy comradeship at Mentone at the same time, it is interesting to note, that Nietzsche was residing there. Equally interesting is it to observe that although Guyau and Fouillée were unaware of the German thinker's presence or his work, Nietzsche was well acquainted with theirs, particularly that of Guyau. Doubtless he would have been pleased to meet the author of the Esquisse d'une Morale sans Obligation ni Sanction (1885) and L'Irreligion de l'Avenir (1887). Editions of these books exist in the Nietzsche-Archiv bearing Nietzsche's notes and comments.
[Footnote * : Some authorities are of opinion that Fouillée was actually the father of Guyau. Fouillée married Guyau's mother.]
[Footnote † : Guyau taught at the Lycée Condorcet (1874) where young Henri Bergson was studying (1868-1878).]
Guyau himself has a certain affinity with Nietzsche, arising from his insistence upon Life and its power; but the author of the delightful little collection Vers d'un Philosophe (1881) is free from the egoism expressed in Der Wille zur Macht. Guyau posits as his idée-directrice the conception of Life, both individual and social, and in this concept he professes to find a basis more fundamental than that of force, movement or existence. Life involves expansion and intension, fecundity and creation. It means also consciousness, intelligence and feeling, generosity and sociability. "He only lives well who lives for others." Life can only exist by extending. It can never be purely egoistic and endure; a certain giving of itself, in generosity and in love, is necessary for its continuance. Such is the view which the French philosopher-poet expresses in opposition to Nietzsche, starting, however, from the concept of Life did Nietzsche. Guyau worked out a doctrine of ethics and of religion based upon this concept which will demand our special attention in its proper place, when we consider the moral and religious problem. He strove to give an idealistic setting to the doctrines of evolution, and this alone would give him a place among the great thinkers of the period.
In his doctrine of the relation of thought and action Guyau followed the philosophie des idées-forces. On the other hand there are very remarkable affinities between the thought of Guyau and that of Bergson. Guyau is not so severely intellectual as Fouillée; his manner of thought and excellence of style are not unlike Bergson. More noticeably he has a conception of life not far removed from the élan vital. His "expansion of life" has, like Bergson's évolution créatrice, no goal other than that of its own activity. After Guyau's death in 1888 it was found that he had been exercised in mind about the problem of Time, for he left the manuscript of a book entitled La Genèse de l'Idée de Temps.* He therein set forth a belief in a psychological, heterogeneous time other than mathematical time, which is really spatial in character. In this psychological time the spirit lives. The year following Guyau's death, but before his posthumous work appeared, Bergson published his thesis Les Données immédiates de la Conscience (1889), which is better described by its English title Time and Free Will, and in which this problem which had been present to Guyau's mind is taken up and treated in an original and striking manner. In Guyau, too, is seen the rise of the conception of activity so marked in the work of Bergson and of Blondel. "It is action and the power of life," he insists, "which alone can solve, if not entirely at least partially, those problems to which abstract thought gives rise."†
[Footnote * : This work was edited and published by Fouillée two years after Guyau's death, and reviewed by Bergson in the Revue philosophique in 1891]
[Footnote †: Esquisse d'une Morale sans Obligation ni Sanction, p. 250.]
Bergson, born in 1859, Professor at the Collège de France from 1901 to 1921, now retired, has had a popularity to which none of the other thinkers of this group, or indeed of our period, has attained. He is the only one of the new idealists or spiritualists who is well known outside his own country. For this reason foreigners are apt to regard him as a thinker unrelated to any special current of thought, an innovator. Although much is original and novel in his philosophy, his thought marks the stage in the development to which the spiritualist current has attained in contemporary thought. The movement of which he forms a part we can trace back as far as Maine de Biran, to whom Bergson owes much, as he does also to Ravaisson, Lachelier, Boutroux and Guyau.
Two important books by Bergson came prior to 1900, his Time and Free Will (1889) and his Matter and Memory (1896). His famous Creative Evolution appeared in 1907. It is but his first work "writ large," for we have in Time and Free Will the essentials of his philosophy.
He makes, as did Guyau, a central point of Change, a universal becoming, and attacks the ordinary notion of time, which he regards as false because it is spatial. We ourselves live and act in durée, which is Bergson's term for real time as opposed to that fictitious time of the mathematician or astronomer. He thus lays stress upon the inward life of the spirit, with its richness and novelty, its eternal becoming, its self-creation. He has his own peculiar manner of approaching our central problem, that of freedom, of which he realises the importance. For him the problem resolves itself into an application of his doctrine of la durée, to which we shall turn in due course.
Bergson insists with Guyau and Blondel upon the primary significance of action. The importance attached to action colours his whole theory of knowledge. His epistemology rests upon the thesis that "the brain is an instrument of action and not of representation," and that "in the study of the problems of perception the starting- point should be action and not sensation." This is a psychology far different from that of Condillac and Taine, and it is largely upon his merit as a psychologist that Bergson's fame rests. He devoted his second work, Matter and Memory, to showing that memory is something other than a function of the brain. His distinction between "pure" memory and mere memorising power, which is habit, recalls the mémoire of Maine de Biran and of Ravaisson upon Habit. Bergson sees in memory a manifestation of spirit, which is a fundamental reality, no mere epiphenomenon. Spirit is ever striving against matter, but in spite of this dualism which he cannot escape, he maintains that spirit is at the origin of things. This is a difficulty which is more clearly seen in his later book, Creative Evolution. Matter is our enemy and threatens our personality in its spiritual reality by a tendency to lead us into habit, away from life, freedom and creativeness.
Further we must, he claims, endeavour to see things sub specie durationis in a durée, in an eternal becoming. We cannot expect to grasp all the varied reality of life in a formula or indeed in any purely intellectual manner. This is the chief defect of science and of the so-called scientific point of view. It tries to fix in concepts, moulds and solid forms a reality which is living and moving eternally. For Bergson all is Change, and this eternal becoming we can only grasp by intuition. Intuition and intellect do not, however, oppose one another. We are thus led to realise that Life is more than logic. The Bergsonian philosophy concludes with intuitionism and contingency, which drew upon it the severe criticisms of Fouillée,* who termed it a philosophy of scepticism and nihilism. Of all the spiritualist group Fouillée stands nearest the positive attitude to science, and his strong intellectualism comes out in his criticism of Bergson, who well represents, together with Blondel, the tendency towards non-intellectual attitudes inherent in the spiritualist development. Blondel has endeavoured to treat the great problems, a task which Bergson has not attempted as yet, partly because he (Bergson) shares Renan's belief that "the day of philosophic systems has gone," partly because he desires to lay the basis of a philosophy of the spirit to which others after him may contribute, and so he devotes his attention to method and to those crucial points, such as the problem of freedom upon which a larger doctrine must necessarily rest.*
[Footnote * : Particularly in his work Le Mouvement idéaliste et la Réaction contre la Science positive (cf. .206), 1896, and later in La Pensée et les nouvelles Ecoles anti-intellectualistes, 1910.]
[Footnote * : For a fuller appreciation of the Bergsonian doctrines than is possible in such a survey as this, the reader is referred to the author's monograph, Bergson and His Philosophy, Methuen and Co., 1920.]
The current of the new idealism or spiritualism reaches a culminating point in the work of Blondel (born about 1870), whose remarkable and noteworthy book L'Action appeared in l893.† The fundamental thesis of the Philosophy of Action‡ is that man's life is primarily one of action, consequently philosophy must concern itself with the active life and not merely with thought. By its nature, action is something unique and irreducible to other elements or factors. It is not the result of any synthesis: it is itself a living synthesis, and cannot be dealt with as the scientist deals with his data. Blondel lays emphasis, as did Bergson, upon "the living" being unique and inexpressible in formulae. Intellect cannot grasp action; "one penetrates the living reality only by placing oneself at the dynamic point of view of the will."* His words recall Bergson's attitude to the free act. "The principle of action eludes positive knowledge at the moment at which it makes it possible, and, in a word that needs to be better defined, it is subjectivity."†
[Footnote † : The same year in which the philosophic interest in France, growing since 1870, and keener in the eighties, led to the foundation of the famous Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale by Xavier Léon. In 1876 (the same year in which Professor Croom Robertson in England established the periodical Mind) Ribot had founded the Revue philosophique de la France et de l'Etranger. These journals, along with the teaching in the Lycées, have contributed to make the French people the best educated, philosophically, of any people.]
[Footnote ‡ : It is interesting to note that this designation has been used by its author to replace his original term "pragmatisme," which he employed in 1888 and abandoned upon becoming acquainted with the theory of Peirce and James, and with their use of the term in another manner, with which he did not agree. See Bulletin de la Société française de Philosophie, 1902.]
[Footnote * : L' Action, p. 100.]
[Footnote * : Ibid., p. 87.]
Blondel, however, leads us beyond this subjectivity, for it is not the will which causes what is. Far from that, he maintains that in so far as it wills it implies something which it does not and cannot create of itself; it wills to be what it is not yet. We do not act for the mere sake of acting, but for some end, something beyond the particular act. Action is not self-contained or self- sufficing: it is a striving to further attainment or achievement. It therefore pre-supposes some reality beyond itself. Here appear the elements of "passion" and "suffering" due to resistance, for all action involves some opposition. In particular moral action implies this resistance and a consciousness of power to overcome the resistance, and it therefore involves a reality which transcends the sphere in which we act.
Owing to this inequality between the power and the wish, we are obliged to complete our actions or our activity in general by a belief in a Reality beyond. It is, however, "a beyond that is within," a Divine power immanent in man. This view, Blondel claims, unites the idea of God "transcendent" with the idea of God as "immanent." Man's action partakes of both, for in so far as it results from his own will it is immanent; transcendence is, however, implied in the fact that the end of man's action as a whole is not "given." Blondel leads us to a conception of a religious idealism in which every act of our ordinary existence leads ultimately to a religious faith. Every action is sacramental. Blondel and his follower Laberthonnière, who has taken up this idea from his master in his volume of Essais de Philosophie réligieuse (1901), go beyond a purely pragmatist or voluntarist position by finding the supreme value of all action, and of the universe, not in will but in love. For Blondel this word is no mere sentiment or transient feeling, but a concrete reality which is the perfection of will and of intellect alike, of action and of knowledge. The "Philosophy of Action," asserts Blondel, includes the "Philosophy of the Idea." In the fact of love, he claims, is found the perfect unity between the self and the non-self, the ground of personality and its relation to the totality of persons, producing a unity in which each is seen as an end to others as well as to himself. "Love," says Laberthonnière, "is the first and last word of all. It is the principle, the means and the end. It is in loving that one gets away from self and raises oneself above one's temporal individuality. It is in loving that one finds God and other beings, and that one finds oneself." It is, in short, these idealists claim, the Summum Bonum; in it is found the Absolute which philosophers and religious mystics of all ages have ever sought.
The "philosophy of action" is intimately bound up with the "philosophy of belief," formulated by Ollé-Laprune, and the movement in religious thought known generally as Modernism, which is itself due to the influence of modern philosophic thought upon the dogmas of the Christian religion, as these are stated by the Roman Church. Both the Philosophy of Belief and Modernism are characterised by an intense spirituality and a moral earnestness which maintain the primacy of the practical reason over the theoretical reason. Life, insists Ollé-Laprune in his book Le Prix de la Vie (l885),* is not contemplation but active creation. He urges us to a creative evolution of the good, to an employment of idées-forces. "There are things to be made whose measure is not determined; there are things to be discovered, to be invented, new forms of the good, ideas which have never yet been received—creations, as it were, of the spirit that loves the good." This dynamism and power of will is essential. We must not lose ourselves in abstractions; action is the supreme thing: it alone constitutes reality.
[Footnote * : This has been followed in the new century by La Raison et le Rationalisme, 1906. As early as 1880, however, he issued his work La Certitude morale, which influenced Blondel, his pupil.]
A similar note is sounded by the Modernists or Neo-Catholics, particularly by the brilliant disciple and successor of Bergson, Le Roy, who in Dogme et Critique (1907) has based the reality of religious dogma upon its practical significance. We find Péguy (who fell on the field of battle in 1914) applying Bergsonian ideas to a fervid religious faith. Wilbois unites these ideas to social ethics in his Devoir et Durée (1912). In quite different quarters the new spiritualism and philosophy of action have appeared as inspiring the Syndicalism of Sorel, who endeavours to apply the doctrines of Bergson, Ollé-Laprune and Blondel to the solution of social questions in his Réflexions sur la Violence (1907) and Illusions du Progrès (1911).
It would be erroneous to regard Bergson's intuitional philosophy as typical of all contemporary French thought. Following Renouvier, Fouillée and Boutroux, there prevail currents of a more intellectualist or rationalist type, to which we are, perhaps, too close to see in true and historical perspective. The élan vital of French thought continues to manifest itself in a manner which combines the work of Boutroux and Bergson with Blondel's idealism. A keen interest is being taken in the works of Spinoza, Kant and Hegel, and this is obviously influencing the trend of French philosophy at the moment, without giving rise to a mere eclecticism. French thought is too original and too energetic for that. In addition to these classical studies we should note the great and growing influence of the work of Durkheim and of Hamelin, both of whom we have already mentioned. The former gave an immense impetus to sociological studies by his earlier work. Further interest arose with his Formes élémentaires de la Vie religieuse in 1912. Hamelin indicated a turning-point from neo-criticisme through the new spiritualist doctrines to Hegelian methods and ideas. Brunschwicg, who produced a careful study of Spinoza, wrote as early as 1897 on La Modalité du Jugement, a truly Kantian topic. This thinker's later works, Les Etapes de la Philosophie mathematique (1912) and the little volume La Vie de l'esprit, illustrate a tendency to carry out the line taken by Boutroux—namely, to arrive at the statement of a valid idealism disciplined by positivism. The papers of Berthelot in his Evolutionnisme et Platonisme are a further contribution to this great end. In the work of Evellin, La Raison pure et les Antinomies (1907), the interest in Kant and Hegel is again seen. Noël, who contributed an excellent monograph on Lachelier to the Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale (that journal which is an excellent witness in itself to the vitality of contemporary French philosophy), produced a careful study of Hegel's Logik in 1897. Since that date interest has grown along the lines of Boutroux, Bergson and Blondel in an attempt to reach a positive idealism, which would combine the strictly positivist attitude so dear to French minds with the tendency to spiritualism or idealism which they also manifest. This attempt, which in some respects amounts to an effort to restate the principles of Hegel in modern or contemporary terms, was undertaken by Weber in 1903 in his book entitled Vers le Positivisme absolu par l'Idéalisme. Philosophy in France realises to-day that the true course of spiritual development will be at once positive and idealistic.
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