Boutroux, Émile

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Boutroux, Émile


Born July 28, 1845, in Montrouge (Hauts de Seine); died Nov. 22, 1921, in Paris. French idealistic philosopher; representative of spiritualism. Professor at the Sorbonne; member of the Académie Française (1912).

Boutroux criticized the positivism of Comte and the absolute valuation of scientific methods (The Contingency of the Laws of Nature, 1874; Russian translation, 1900); he held that objective conformity to natural law still leaves room for contingency, which has the same source as necessity—the creative divine principle; freedom to Boutroux is the “root of being.” Thus, he argued from the position of indeterminism. He viewed religion as the highest level of spiritual freedom, as the expression of human striving to go beyond the boundaries of the given. The teaching of Boutroux influenced H. Bergson, M. Blondel, and L. Brunschvicg.


De l’idée de la loi naturelle dans la science et la philosophic contemporaines. Paris, 1895.
Pascal, 5th ed. Paris, 1912.
Etudes d’histoire de la philosophic, 5th ed. Paris, 1925.
In Russian translation:
Nauka i religiia v sovremennoi filosofii. St. Petersburg, 1910.
“Ob otnoshenii filosofii k nauke.” In the collection Novye idei filosofii, collection 1. St. Petersburg, 1912.


Istoriia filosofii, vol. 3. Moscow, 1959. Pages 489-93.
Lafontaine, A. P. La Philosophic de Boutroux. Paris, 1921.
Crawford, L. S. The Philosophy of Emile Boutroux as Representative of French Idealism in the Nineteenth Century. New York, 1924.