French Philosophy

French philosophy is relevant in the Western philosophy. The influence of French philosophy to the western culture spanned from the medieval period up to modern philosophy, and even extended up to the 20th century.

Medieval Period was dominated by Peter Abelard which helped establish the philosophies of Aristotle almost half-century after his death. Peter Abelard was the one responsible of the Doctrine of Limbo, stating that un-baptized babies do not go to hell but rather in limbo, which the Vatican accepted. Modern philosophy began in the 17th century through Rene Descartes. The father of modern philosophy was particularly concerned with science’s uncertainty, and thus, he did not accept or believe anything that appeared uncertain and just accepted the ones that are capable of demonstration.

The French philosophy was strongly political during the 18th century. Many philosophers became critics of the church, state, and progress leaders. It was during these times when the philosophers turned into political influences not only in France but also in America. Charles de Secondat was a social commentator, Voltaire criticized the Church of Dogma and French Institutions and fought for civil liberties, Jean-Jacques Rousseau proclaimed that the arts and the sciences are corrupters of morality, and Denis Diderot was one of the founders of Encyclopedia that stirred controversy which led to his arrest.

In the 19th century, positive philosophy was developed to heal the unhealthy social influence of the French Revolution. Auguste Comte was the philosopher behind it who also founded the doctrine of positivism. Meanwhile, Henri Bergson’s works were about real time as it is experienced by consciousness. The French philosophers in the early 20th century, such as Maine de Biran, Henri Bergson and Louis Lavelle, influenced the Angl-saxon ideologies. In the late 20th century, French philosophy became heavily influenced by the German thoughts, as phenomenology, existentialism, and postmodern philosophy began to influence French philosophy.


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