Meyerson, Émile

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Meyerson, Émile


Born Feb. 12, 1859, in Lublin, Poland; died Dec. 4, 1933, in Paris. Idealist philosopher. Emigrated to France in 1882.

Meyerson’s works deal with the theory of knowledge. In his view, epistemology studies the forms of reason in fixed, objectivized knowledge; therefore, the theory of knowledge necessarily becomes a historical and critical analysis of science. According to Meyerson, the a priori principle of identity is the basis of reason; knowledge consists of identifying diverse phenomena. Categories and scientific theories result from the interaction of the a priori identifying capacity of reason with empirical data; therefore, categories and scientific theories are neither a priori nor a posteriori but only “probable.”

Regarding causality as the basis for explanation in science, Meyerson understood causality as the expression of the immutability of an object in time. Cause and effect are thought of as equal, the effect being the logical result of the cause. Meyerson made a distinction between the knowledge of scientific laws and the knowledge of causal relations. He criticized the subjectivist interpretations of the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics along Machist lines. However, Meyerson’s metaphysical counterposing of identity and diversity and of reason and reality ultimately led his philosophy to agnosticism.


De l’Explication dans les sciences, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1921.
La Deduction relativiste. Paris, 1925.
Du Cheminement de la pensée, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1931.
Réel et déterminisme dans la physique quantique. Paris, 1933.
In Russian translation:
Tozhdestvennost’ i deistvitel’nost St. Petersburg, 1912.


Kelly, T. R. Explanation and Reality in the Philosophy of E. Meyerson. London, 1937.
Marcucci, S. E. Meyerson. Turin, 1962.


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