Emmanuel Mounier

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Mounier, Emmanuel


Born Apr. 1, 1905, in Grenoble; died Mar. 22, 1950, in Châtenay-Malabry, near Paris. French idealist philosopher.

The founder and head of the French school of personalism, Mounier organized and supervised its theoretical organ, the journal Esprit (founded in 1932). His philosophy, which is based on a recognition of the absolute value of the person, draws a sharp distinction between the concept of the person and that of the individual. According to Mounier, the individual is the isolated human “self,” the human being shut up within himself and submerged in his own inner world. The person is the highest spiritual entity, which is in a continual state of creative self-realization. In self-realization, the person negates his self-sufficiency and imperviousness and strives for the transcendent.

In general, Mounier’s personalism is a version of Catholic modernism. Although Mounier agreed with the existentialist theory of commitment, he did not believe that the person was “cast” into a world to which he was hostile. Rather, he suggested that the person inserted himself into the world in a rational way and transformed the world to conform to his moral and political aspirations.

Mounier’s personalism also posited concrete sociopolitical tasks: a struggle against capitalism and colonialism, opposition to fascism, and support of peace. Mounier viewed moral regeneration as the path to human liberation. Although he criticized capitalism from the standpoint of Christian socialism, he called for “overcoming” Marxism. In opposition to the doctrine of the class struggle and socialist revolution he proposed “a personalist and communal spiritual revolution.”


Manifeste au service du personnalisme. Paris, 1936.
Qu’est-ce que Le Personnalisme? Paris, 1947.
Oeuvres, 4 vols. Paris, 1961–63.


Kuznetsov, V. N. Frantsuzskaia burzhuaznaia filosofiia 20 v. Moscow, 1970. Pages 211–22.
[“Emmanuel Mounier.”] Esprit, 1950, no. 12 (174).
Mounier et sa génération. Paris, 1956.
Moix, C. La Pensée d’Emmanuel Mounier. Paris, 1960.
Cuissard, L. E. Mounier. Paris, 1963.
Conilh, J. Emmanuel Mounier. Sa Vie, son oeuvre. (With an exposition of his philosophy.) Paris, 1966.
Pluzanski, T. Mounier. Warsaw, 1967.
Domenach, J.-M. Emmanuel Mounier. Paris, 1972.


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