Blondel, Maurice

Blondel, Maurice

Blondel, Maurice, 1861–1949, French Catholic philosopher, b. Dijon. He was a professor at the universities of Montauban, Lille, and Aix-Marseille during his influential career. Like his contemporary Henri Bergson he was antirationalist and scorned science. In his first work, L'Action (1893, rev. ed. 1950), he laid the groundwork for his later thought. Blondel held that action alone could never satisfy the human yearning for the transfinite, which could only be fulfilled by God, whom he described as the “first principle and last term.” In his positive affirmation of God he was close to St. Augustine, Plato, and Leibniz; he later also accorded legitimacy to the rational proofs of God's existence. His other chief works were La Pensée (2 vol., 1934–35) and Le Problème de la philosophie catholique (1932).


See study by H. Bouillard (1969).

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Blondel, Maurice


Born Oct. 2, 1861, in Dijon; died June 4, 1949, in Aix-en-Provence. French idealist philosopher, representative of spiritualism.

Blondel, a disciple of Bergson and an adherent of Catholic modernism, argued against the absolutization of the rational principle within the framework of Thomism. Blondel criticized abstract rational thinking, counterposing reason to it. He interpreted the activity of reason not only as a logical operation, but as something that is experienced, having at its base inner spiritual movement, which gives impetus to reason and imparts value to it. The combination of reason, which examines the world of phenomena, and religious revelation, which is directed toward the supernatural world and reveals to man the meaning of his life and higher values, is guaranteed, according to Blondel, by the single creator, god. Blondel saw the main expression of the human essence in action connected with thought. He set the value of action in dependence on its function in practical life—the attainment of general happiness. His voluntaristic treatment of action as a manifestation of will that forms personality anticipated the elaboration of the problem of choice in existentialism.


La Pensée, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1934.
La Philosophie et I’esprit chrétien, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1944–46.
L’Action. Paris, 1950.
L’Etre et les étres. Paris, 1963.
Carnets intimes, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1961–66.


Istoriia filosofii, vol. 6, part 2. Moscow, 1965. Pages 73–74.
Lacroix, J. M. Blondel. Paris, 1963.
Tresmontant, C. Introduction a la métaphysique de M. Blondel. Paris, 1963.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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