Fouillée, Alfred Jules Emile

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Fouillée, Alfred Jules Emile

(älfrĕd` zhül āmēl` fo͞oyā`), 1838–1912, self-educated French philosopher and sociologist. Until 1875, when he retired, he was a teacher at various French universities. Fouillée regarded it as his particular work to "reconcile idealism and naturalism." To achieve this synthesis of Platonism and modern science he developed the conception of idées-forces, in which ideas are inseparable from action. This motor theory of consciousness makes ideas the agent of change and progress. Fouillée expanded this idea of self-consciousness into a metaphysics (L'Avenir de la metaphysique, 1889). In The Sphere of Sociology and Ethics he stressed the interdependence of the individual and society. Chief among his works are Critique des systemes de morale contemporaine (1883), L'Evolutionnisme des idées-forces (1890), and La Psychologie des idées-forces (1893).

Fouillée, Alfred Jules Émile


Born Oct. 18, 1838, in La Pouëze; died July 16, 1912, in Lyon. French philosopher and sociologist.

Fouillée taught philosophy at the Ecole Normale in Paris from 1872 to 1879. His eclectic metaphysics represented an attempt to unite different philosophical currents by the “method of reconciliation.” Fouillée conceived of such reconciliation as based on certain volitional mental states, which he called idées-forces; the masses’ understanding and recognition of these “thought forces” would lead to their implementation.

In his sociological views, Fouillée was a moderate organicist, viewing society in psychological terms as a “contractual organism” that does not exist independently of individuals. In the process of evolution the feeling of social solidarity develops together with personal consciousness, and their conjoined progress in its turn relates to the increasing dependence of social development on ideological factors as well as on the conscious will of society’s individual members. Fouillée considered the highest stage of evolution to be the complete unity of the social and the individual under advanced forms of contractual relationships. Fouillée’s views characterize him as a supporter of bourgeois liberalism.


La Psychologie des idées-forces. Paris, 1893.
Les Eléments sociologiques de la morale. Paris, 1905.
La Morale des idées-forces. Paris, 1908.
In Russian translation:
Istoriia filosofii. Moscow, 1893.
Sovremennaia nauka ob obshchestve. Moscow, 1895.
Svoboda i neobkhodimost’. Moscow, 1900.


Vvedenskii. A. I. Ocherk sovremennoi frantsuzskoi filosofii. Kharkov, 1894.
Kon, I. Pozitivizm v sotsiologii. Leningrad, 1964.
Guyau, A. La Philosophie et la sociologie d’A. Fouillée. Paris, 1913.