Victor Cousin

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Cousin, Victor


Born Nov. 28, 1792, in Paris; died Jan. 14, 1867, in Cannes. French idealist philosopher and politician.

Cousin taught philosophy at the Ecole Normale from 1814 to 1820 and later was its director. He visited Germany in 1817–18 and in 1824 and became personally acquainted with G. Hegel and F. W. von Schelling. He was professor of philosophy at the Sorbonne from 1828 to 1851. An advocate of constitutional monarchy, Cousin was a member of the Conseil d'Etat under Louis Philippe and was a peer of France. He was elected to the Académie Française in 1830 and to the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques in 1832. As minister of education in 1840 he introduced reforms aimed at a rapprochement of the universities with the church.

Cousin's philosophical views were formed under the direct influence of P. P. Royer-Collard and M. F. Maine de Biran and were on the whole eclectic. He affirmed that all philosophical truths had already been expressed and that therefore the only task of philosophy was the critical selection of truths from previous philosophical systems on the basis of common sense. Cousin attacked materialism, especially 18th-century French materialism, which was based, in his view, on the sensualism of E. de Condillac. Cousin contributed to the popularization of history of philosophy. He translated Plato into French, edited works of Plato, Proclus, Abelard, Pascal, and Descartes, and acquainted French readers with the philosophy of Kant, Schelling, and Hegel. Marx classified Cousin among the “true interpreters” of the “sober reality” of bourgeois society (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 8, p. 120) and called him a “weak eclectic” (ibid., vol. 27, p. 376).


Oeuvres complétes, vols. 1–16. Paris, 1851–55.
Histoire de la philosophic du XVIII siècle, vols. 1–2, Paris, 1826. Cours de Vhistoire de la philosophic moderne, 2nd series, vols. 1–2, new ed. Paris, 1846–47.
Histoire générale de la philosophic, new ed. Paris, 1863.
Du Vrai, du beau et du bien, 29th ed. Paris, 1904.


Taine, H. Frantsuzskaia filosofiia pervoipoloviny XlX-go veka. St. Petersburg, 1896. Chapters 4–8. (Translated from French.)
Janet, P. Victor Cousin et son oeuvre. Paris, 1885.
Simon, J. Victor Cousin, 3rd ed. Paris, 1891.
Barthélemy-Saint-Hilaire, J. Victor Cousin, sa vie et sa correspondance, vols. 1–3. Paris, 1895.
Ody, H. J. Victor Cousin. Saarbriicken, 1933.
Cornelius, A. Die Geschichtslehre V. Cousins unter besonderer Berucksichtigung des hegelschen Einflusses. Geneva-Paris, 1958.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The point that was highly controversial in Aestheticism was that it separated art form from any social or moral context; thus the "art for art's sake" phrase attributed to the French philosopher Victor Cousin.
He stayed at Hotel Design Sorbonne, rue Victor Cousin in the Latin Quarter.
Como punto de partida puede recordarse la interpretacion de Victor Cousin (1792-1867) y otros autores posteriores, que reconocen el valor literario de su pensamiento pero se resisten a incluir su obra entre las de filosofia.
And only two have triumphed, the subsequently disqualified Dunguib and 2008 victor Cousin Vinny.
Site: Universite de la Sorbonne, 1 rue Victor Cousin, 75005 Paris, France; contact:
Or, du point de vue de l'histoire de la philosophie, la figure de Hegel concerne d'abord le philosophe Victor Cousin. (1) Cousin a connu la philosophie hegelienne des 1817, mais c'est en 1824-25, alors qu'il se trouve a Berlin, qu'il noue des relations avec le cercle de ses disciples.
But in examining the trajectory of the doctrine of l'art pour l'art from its first public expression in the lectures of Victor Cousin in Paris in 1817-1818 to its reappearance as a rallying cry for young artists in the early 1830s, what is perhaps most remarkable are the differences between Cousin's conceptualization of this disinterest and Theophile Gautier's.