Renouvier, Charles Bernard

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Renouvier, Charles Bernard


Born Jan. 1, 1815, in Montpellier; died Sept. 1, 1903, in Prades. French idealist philosopher and leader of French neo-Kantianism (neocriticism). Member of the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques (1900).

V. I. Lenin characterized Renouvier’s philosophy as “a combination of the phenomenalism of Hume and the apriorism of Kant” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 18, p. 221). As the starting point of philosophy, Renouvier proposed the reality of the facts of consciousness as something self-evident. He therefore rejected the existence of “things-in-themselves,” which he viewed as phenomena. Adhering to the phenomenalism of Hume, Renouvier maintained that experience is the totality of phenomena and that the relationship between thinking and being is the fundamental coordination between the subject and object of cognition. In line with Kant’s apriorism, he constructed a system of categories in which the category of relationship is central. Unlike Kant, however, he did not make a distinction between the forms of sensibility and understanding, and hence space and time are also categories in his system.

In his later works, Renouvier concerned himself chiefly with problems of morality and freedom of will. His philosophy is similar to ethical personalism. His ethics, initially in harmony with Kantian ethics, later came to be based on a rejection of necessity in the world and on an affirmation of the free creativity of numerous spiritual beings—individual personalities. Renouvier’s philosophy exerted an influence on the development of French personalism.


Manuel de philosophie moderne. Paris, 1842.
Essais de critique générale, vols. 1–4. Paris, 1854–64.
Esquisse d’une classification systématique des doctrines philosophiques, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1885–86.
La Nouvelle Monadologie. Paris, 1899.
Le Personnalisme. Paris, 1903.


Lapshin, I. I. “Neokrititsizm Sharlia Renuv’e.” In the collection Novye idei v filosofii, no. 13. St. Petersburg. 1914.
Istoriia filosofii, vol. 3. Moscow, 1959. Pages 481–85.
Milhaud, G. La Philosophie de Ch. Renouvier. Paris, 1927.
Verneaux, R . L’idéalisme de Renouvier. Paris, 1945.


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