Interest in the Semitic languages has been a cherished tradition in France. As Abel Lefranc tells us in his valuable "Histoire du Collège de France depuis ses origines jusqu'à la fin du premier empire," this institution started with two professors of Hebrew, and another was added the next year. From that day to this, nearly four hundred years, instruction in Hebrew has been given continuously in this college. The diplomatic, religious, and commercial relations of France with North Africa and the Near East had been such that practical considerations early called attention to the importance of Arabic. It is true that not till 1587 do we find mention of an Arabic chair at the Collège de France (the incumbent of which was Arnoul DE L'ISLE); but nearly fifty years earlier, in 1538, the celebrated Guillaume POSTEL was appointed for "l'enseignement des lettres grecques, hébraïques et arabiques." It was a professor at the Collège de France, Antoine GALLAND, who early in the eighteenth century published his translation of the Arabian Nights. This work was not only one of great literary importance, but it has aroused and kept alive an interest in things Oriental to an extent difficult or impossible to estimate.
But it was not till the nineteenth century that great advances in Semitic philology were made. Napoleon's expedition stimulated interest in the Near East, while CHAMPOLLION'S discovery of the key to the Egyptian language not only was a great achievement in itself, but helped all Oriental learning. The decipherment of the cuneiform writing opened up new vistas in the world's history, and in this work French scholars took a splendid part. The names of LENORMANT, MÉNANT, Jules OPPERT, BOTTA, DE SAULCY, and others, are familiar wherever these languages are studied. The Crimean War and the French expedition to Syria in 1860 not only helped general interest in things Oriental, but the latter gave an opportunity to RENAN to make a journey not only to Phoenicia, but also to the Holy Land proper, results of which appear in some of those works which have made his name so famous. Meantime the genius .of DE SACY (1758-1838) had aroused new interest in Arabic, and Caussin DE PERCEVAL (1795-1871), QUATREMÈRE (1782-1857), and others, had done fine work in this field. The conquest of Algiers (1830-1847) had brought Islam to the very doors of France. The occupation of Tunis brought still more Moslems under French control; and with the acquisition of Morocco France has become a great Mohammedan power and must perforce give much study and attention to the Arabic language and to Islam.
In Archaeology, French scholars have done splendid work,---work in which they have had the intelligent and liberal support of the government. Some of the results of this work and this support are to be found, for example, in the magnificent collections of Oriental antiquities at the Louvre, in the Institut français d'archéologie orientale du Caire, and in such publications as the "Mémoires publiés par les membres de la Mission archéologique au Caire," those of the Institut français just mentioned, and above all in the magnificent "Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum."
Such well known names as those of DEFRÉMERY, SLANIE, and Garcin DE TASSY (Arabic and Mohammedan science); MARTIN, DUVAL, and NAU (Syriac studies especially); DE VOGÜÉ, BERGER, and CHABOT (Epigraphy); Joseph and Hartwig DERENBOURG (Hebrew, Arabic, South Arabian and other studies); and THUREAU-DANGIN in the field of Old Babylonian science, may also receive mention here.
Instruction. Courses of interest to students of Semitic philology are given in the following institutions: Université de Paris; Collège de France; École pratique des Hautes Études; École spéciale des Langues Orientales vivantes; École du Louvre; École Coloniale; Institut Catholique de Paris; Cours de Langues vivantes.
It must suffice here to mention the men giving instruction in Semitic philology in the first three of these institutions, with a statement of the lectures or courses they have offered, and of the institution in which the instruction was given. The names of the instructors are arranged alphabetically, and in certain cases attention is called to some of their published works. The statement of courses is based on the "Livret de l'étudiant," 1914-15. Following the name of the instructor are, in order, the name of the institution, the title of his chair, and the subject of his courses.
BARTHÉLEMY (Adrien). École des Hautes Études. I. Classical Arabic. Interpretation of the Beyrouth Madjâni l'adab. II. Arabic Dialectology.
CASANOVA (Paul). Collège de France. Arabic language and literature. I. The schools and sects of Islam. II. Interpretation and critical study of the most ancient parts of the Coran. (Casanova is the author of "Mohammed et la fin du monde, étude critique sur l'Islam primitif," the first part of which was published in 1911; but much of his best work has appeared in the "Mémoires publiés par les membres de la mission archéologique au Caire," and in those published by the Institut français d'archéologie orientale du Caire.)
CLERMONT-GANNEAU (Charles). Collège de France. Semitic epigraphy and antiquities. Study of various Semitic monuments and texts recently discovered.---Also, at the École des Hautes Études: Oriental archaeology. I. Oriental antiquities (Palestine, Phoenicia, Syria). II. Hebrew archaeology. (CLERMONT-GANNEAU has done so much valuable work in the field of oriental archaeology and has published so much that a complete bibliography would be a very long one. Perhaps it will suffice to mention here his" Archaeological Researches in Palestine," 1873-74; published for the Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund, 2 vols., 1896 and 1899; also his great "Recueil d'archéologie orientale," of which seven full volumes and part of an eighth had appeared by 1907).
FOSSEY (Charles). Collège de France. Assyrian Philology and archaeology. Topics in Babylonian and Assyrian law.---École des Hautes Études. Assyro-Babylonian religion. Certain Babylonian and Biblical myths. (Among Fossey's works may be mentioned: "La magie assyrienne: étude suivie de textes magiques, transcrits, traduits et commentés," Paris, 1902; "Contribution au dictionnaire sumérien-assyrien, supplément à la Classified list de Brunnow," Paris, 1905-7; "Manuel d'assyriologie, fouilles, écriture, langue, littérature, géographie, histoire, religion, institutions, art," Tome I, Paris, 1904.)
GRÉBAUT. Université de Paris. Ancient History of the Peoples of the Orient. The Egyptian conquests in Asia.
GSELL (Stéphane). Collège de France. History of North Africa. I. History of Carthage, constitution and administration of the Carthaginian Empire. II. Study of the ancient texts relative to the military operations in Africa during the first and second Punic Wars. (Among GSELL'S published works are: "Les monuments antiques de l'Algérie," 2 vols., Paris, 1901; "L'Algérie dans l'antiquité," Alger, 1903; "Histoire ancienne de l'Afrique du Nord," Paris, 1913.)
HALÉVY, J. École des Hautes Études. Ethiopichimyarite languages and Turanian languages. I. Grammar of the Ethiopic language; Interpretation of texts. II. Interpretation of texts drawn from the "Corpus inscriptionum semiticarum." III. Turanian languages; Grammar; Interpretation of texts. (Among HALÉVY'S published works are "Recherches Bibliques: l'histoire des origines d'après la Genèse," Paris, 1895-1907: "Mélanges d'épigraphie et d'archéologie sémitiques," Paris, 1874. In 1893 Halévy founded the "Revue Sémitique d'épigraphie et d'histoire ancienne," to the pages of which he has contributed very extensively.)
HUART (Clément). École des Hautes Études. Islam and religions of Arabia. I. Interpretation of the Coran (Chapter IV) with the aid of Tabari's commentary. II. Persian mysticism according to the Methnewi of Djelâl-ed-din Roumi. (Among HUART'S works are: "A History of Arabic Literature," New York, 1903; "Histoire des Arabes," vols. I, II, Paris, 1912-13.)
LAMBERT (Mayer). École des Hautes Études. Semitic languages. I. Hebrew: Grammar, and the interpretation of the Book of Deuteronomy. II. Interpretation of the Book of Isaiah. III. Syriac: Outline of Syriac grammar; Interpretation of texts.
LE CHATELIER (Alfred). Collège de France. Moslem sociology and sociography. The Chadeliga in North Africa, their religious, political, and social rôle. (Among Le Chatelier's published works are: "Les confréries musulmanes du Hedjaz," Paris 1887; "L'Islam au siècle," Paris, 1888. Some of his most valuable work has been in connection with the "Revue du Monde Musulman;" the first number bears the date November, 1906, and he has been director from the beginning.)
LÉVI (Israël). École des Hautes Études. Talmudic and Rabbinic Judaism. I. The Rabbinic commentaries on the Psalms. II. The religious poems of Juda Halévi.
LEVY (Isidore). École des Hautes Études. Ancient History of the Orient. I. Researches in the Alexandrian literature. II. History of Israel.
LODS (A.). University of Paris. History of the Hebrew religion. I. The beginnings of Hebrew literature. II. The prophets of Israel and their time. III. Interpretation of texts. IV. Elements of Hebrew grammar.
LOISY (A.). Collège de France. History of Religions. I. The Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians. II. General history of sacrifice. (Among Loisy's writings may be mentioned: "Les mythes babyloniens et les premiers chapitres de la Genèse", Paris, 1901; "L'évangile et l'église," 3d ed., 1904.)
SCHEIL (V.). École des Hautes Études. Assyrian philology and antiquities. I. Interpretation of texts. Critical examination of the translations attempted by the first decipherers. II. Deciphering of epistolary texts.
(Scheil has done so much valuable work that his name is familiar to every student of the cuneiform writings; beyond a reference to the texts which he edited for the "Mémoires de la Délégation en Perse," among them the Code of Hammurabi, it would be impracticable to enumerate here his numerous important publications.)
VERNES. École des Hautes Études. Religions of Israel and of the western Semites. I. Researches on the ancient organization of the clergy and of worship in Israel. II. Interpretation of Ecclesiastes. (Among VERNES' works may be mentioned: "Histoire des idées messianiques depuis Alexandre jusqu'à l'empereur Adrien," Paris, 1874; "Du prétendu polythéisme des Hébreux; essai critique sur la religion du peuple d'Israël suivi d'un examen de l'authenticité des écrits prophétiques," Paris, 1891, 2 vols.).
Libraries and Museums. The following Libraries and Museums may be mentioned as having especial value for the student of Semitic philology and history. A detailed account of their several treasures worthy of mention is here impossible: Libraries: Bibliothèque de l'Alliance israélite; Bibliothèque d'Art de d'Archéologie; Bibliothèque du Collège de France; Bibliothèque de l'École des Hautes Études; Bibliothèque de l'École spéciale des Langues orientales vivantes; Bibliothèque de l'École normale israélite; Bibliothèque de l'École rabbinique centrale; Bibliothèque de l'Imprimerie Nationale; Bibliothèque de l'Institut Catholique; Bibliothèque de l'Institut de France; Bibliothèque Mazarine; Bibliothèque du Musée Guimet; Bibliothèque Nationale; Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève; Bibliothèque de la Société Asiatique; Bibliothèque de la Société biblique protestante. Museums: 1. Musée du Louvre; 2. Musée de la Bibliothèque Nationale; 3. Musée Guimet; 4. Musée monétaire.
We all know TAINE'S "Histoire de la Littérature anglaise" which appeared in 1864. It has been translated into English, and it may be found, sometimes in an abbreviated form, on the shelves of every bookshop and among the bethumbed volumes of every library. This book, despite its impatience of detail, may by its astonishing vogue introduce us at once to some of the dominating characteristics of French scholarship. French scholars have a talent for popularizing great ideas in a distinguished way; and they are more profoundly interested in literature than in linguistics and grammar.
This is not saying that linguistic studies in English do not appear in France. We may mention, at random, DEROCQUIGNY, "A Contribution to the Study of the French Element in English," 1904; BARBEAU, "On Differences between the use of the Definite Article in the Bible and in the Speech of To-day," 1904; BIARD, "L'Article THE et les caractéristiques différentielles de son emploi," 1908; THOMAS, "On the Epic Verse of John Milton," 1901; and VERRIER," Essai sur les principes de la métrique anglaise," 1909; but the French incline to regard such investigations as subsidiary to the study of literature.
Another history of English Literature, which is the work of the French Ambassador at Washington, and which is in the hands of every serious student of English is JUSSERAND'S "Histoire littéraire du peuple anglais." This book, which is also known in an English version, appeared in several volumes from 1895 to 1909--- More thoroughly documented than the History of Taine, more historical in tone, more inclusive of different origins and influences, Jusserand's History illustrates by its clarity and charm the prevailing tendencies of French scholarship. Jusserand is the author of numerous other works relating to English literature, among which are: "La vie nomade et les routes d'Angleterre au XIVe Siècle," 1884 (known in an enlarged English version as "English Wayfaring Life in the Fourteenth Century," 1891); "Le Roman au temps de Shakespeare," 1887; and "Shakespeare en France sous l'ancien régime," 1898.
French scholars of English have devoted the most of their energies to the modern period which begins with Wyatt and Surrey. Yet students who go abroad with a primary interest in the literature of mediaeval England can nowhere find more congenial surroundings for work than at the University of Paris, where the spirit of GASTON PARIS, the prince of mediaevalists, still lingers, and where the most eminent of his pupils, such men as JEANROY and BÉDIER, are publishing mediaeval studies that arouse the attention of the entire world of letters. LEGOUIS' "Chaucer," 1912, which in the English translation by Lailavoix has become a standard book of reference in our college courses in Chaucer, is an example of French work in the older period of English A good specimen of a French thesis in this field is Miss SPURGEON'S "Chaucer devant la critique en Angleterre et en France depuis son temps jusqu'à nos jours," 1911.
In literary criticism of the Modern English period, the French surpass every other foreign nation. It is advantageous for a student of English to learn to look at our literature sometimes from a foreign point of view, and no foreigners have looked at English so steadily and so discerningly as have the French.
BELJAME, who till 1906 held in the University of Paris the chair of English which is now occupied by Legouis, began a new era in French criticism of English by the publication in 1881 of his "Le Public et les hommes de lettres en Angleterre au XVIIIe siècle." Other works dealing with a period or a movement have followed, for example: CAZAMIAN, "Le Romantisme social en Angleterre," 1904; BASTIDE, "John Locke, ses théories politiques et leur influence en Angleterre," 1906; GUYOT, "Le Socialisme et l'évolution de l'Angleterre contemporaine," 1913.
For the most part, however, French scholarship has turned to the study of individual authors. The first of these studies in date is STAPFER'S "Laurence Sterne," 1870, and perhaps the most charming is ANGELLIER'S "Robert Burns," 1893. Only a few others can be mentioned merely as examples: FEUILLERAT (a scholar who is also known for his studies of English theatrical companies), "John Lyly," 1910; DELATTRE, "Robert Herrick," 1911; MOREL, "James Thomson," 1895; LEGOEJIS, "La jeunesse de W. Wordsworth," 1896; DEROCQUIGNY, "Charles Lamb," 1904; LAUVRIÈRE, "Edgar A. Poe," 1904; and DHALEINE, "Nathaniel Hawthorne, sa vie et ses oeuvres," 1905. These are books of an average length of five hundred pages, which represent from five to ten years' toil for the French "doctorat ès lettres." They display the most painstaking research combined with unusual skill in expression. In each of them the effort is to study the author's life as throwing light on his writings, and his writings, in turn, as illuminating his character.
HEDGCOCK'S "David Garrick and his French friends," 1912, is an expansion of his thesis which was written at Paris. MASSECK'S "Richard Jefferies: Étude d'une personnalité," 1913, is a good example of a thesis for the new "Doctorat de l'Université de Paris." Studies like these show how well French scholars have guarded their pupils from the pitfalls of inaccuracy and vagueness, and at the same time have stimulated them to sympathetic literary appreciation.
Instruction at the Universities. The student of English who goes to France will naturally establish himself at Paris. Here is the great library, the Bibliothèque Nationale, with its 3,000,000 volumes, and 110,000 manuscripts, and almost unlimited resources. Other libraries such as the Bibliothèque Mazarine, the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, the latter in the immediate neighborhood of the Sorbonne, may also interest him as convenient places for all ordinary researches. There is also of course, the library of the Sorbonne itself, with its "salle de travail" and numerous special collections.
In the Faculté des Lettres, LEGOUIS and CAZAMIAN lecture regularly on some special topic in English literature with appropriate "conférences" and exercises. In 1914-15 Legouis lectured on The Life and Work of Edmund Spenser, and Cazamian on Special Topics relating to the History of Civilization in England. Beside, the works above mentioned, Cazamian has written, "Carlyle," 1913, and "L'Angleterre moderne, son évolution," 1914. HUCHON, author of "George Crabbe," 1907, also lectures on The History of the English Language and Its Anglo-Saxon Origins, with a "conférence" in which an Anglo-Saxon text is read.
The student of English will naturally take also courses relating to his special interests. If he is pursuing the comparative study of literature, he will follow the lectures of BALDENSPERGER, author of various books, as for example: "La Littérature, Création, Succès, Durée," 1913. If he is investigating the mediaeval field, he will hear BÉDIER, renowned for his "Les Fabliaux," 1893, and "Les Légendes épiques," 1908-13, or JEANROY for his "Les Origines de la poésie lyrique en France au moyen âge," 1889. If he is a student of Celtic influences on English, he will hear LOTH, known for his "Les Mabinogion, traduits en français avec un commentaire explicatif," 1913, and GAIDOZ, as the founder of "Mélusine" and the "Revue celtique." If he is interested in palaeography, he will be delighted by the unexampled facilities of the École des Chartes. If he has a turn for linguistics, he will hear THOMAS, one of the editors of the "Dictionnaire général de la langue française;" BRUNOT, who is writing the as yet unfinished "Histoire de la langue française des origines à 1900" (5 vols., 1906-13), and ROQUES, one of the authors of the "Étude de Géographie linguistique," 1912. If he is interested in the renaissance, he will follow the courses of LEFRANC, editor of "Calvin, l'Institution chrétienne," 1911, and of "Rabelais, Oeuvres complètes," 1912-13. If he inclines to the modern field, he will attend the lectures of LANSON, author of the "Histoire de la littérature française," 1895. Whatever his subsidiary interest may be, whether for example in History, or Spanish, or Italian, or mediaeval Latin, he will find these subjects expounded weekly by a master.
In the smaller universities of France, the chair of English is often occupied by a scholar of distinction. At Rennes, the professor of English is FEUILLERAT, and at Lille, DEROCQUIGNY; the writings of these men have already been mentioned. At Bordeaux, the professor of English is CESTRE, author of "Les Poètes anglais et la Révolution française," 1905; at Caen is BARBEAU, who wrote "Une Ville d'eau anglaise au XVIIIe Siècle," 1904; and at Poitiers is CASTELAIN, author of "La Vie et l'oeuvre de Ben Jonson," 1906.
Although in the provincial universities instruction in English is not often carried into the higher branches, the serious student will be sure to find lectures on some subsidiary topic that will help him to understand the life and the literature of the past. At Bordeaux, for example, he may profit by the lectures of LE BRETON, author of "Le Roman au XVIIe Siècle," 1898, and "Balzac, l'homme et l'oeuvre," 1905. If he is interested in folklore, he may at Rennes hear the courses of DOTTIN, known for his "Manuel d'irlandais moyen," 1913, and of LE BRAZ, author of "La Légende de la mort chez les Bretons armoricains," 1893, and "Au Pays de pardons," 1894. It is worthy of note that numerous French scholars of literary eminence are unconnected with a university, but teach in a "lycée," as for example PELLISSIER, author of "Le Mouvement littéraire au XIXe Siècle," 1899; and "Le Mouvement littéraire contemporain," 1901.
"The rôle of France in the evolution of modern philosophy is perfectly clear: France has been the great initiator. Elsewhere as well there have appeared philosophers of genius; but nowhere has there been, as in France, an uninterrupted continuity of original philosophical creation." Does this claim of Bergson ("La Science française," I, i) in behalf of French philosophy appear too sweeping? Yet even a slight survey of the course of French thought goes far towards justifying it. Not that French philosophers have always developed their ideas systematically and in detail; on the contrary they have shown a certain distrust of system-making, preferring instead to keep their ideas in close contact with the concrete problems of experience which suggested them. The happy result of this tendency is seen in the peculiarly intimate relation throughout French history between philosophy and the other main thought---currents of the day, literary and art criticism, social and political movements, religious reforms, scientific discoveries and achievements. Perhaps in no country as in France have the current philosophical ideas permeated and influenced the great mass of the people. No nation has lived so concretely its philosophy.
Two of the most fundamental but opposed methods and tendencies in all modern thought were initiated by Frenchmen. DESCARTES gave to modern rationalism its method and main outlines; but he also left open a way of interpreting problems which, taken up and developed by PASCAL, has furnished the method for all succeeding antirationalistic and romantic philosophies. In the eighteenth century the ENCYCLOPAEDISTS, extending the method of Descartes to psychological, social, ethical and religious phenomena, sketched the outlines of all future materialism. At the same time ROUSSEAU, continuing the tradition of Pascal in his own unique way, inaugurated the romantic movement.
At the very beginning of the nineteenth century appear two thinkers whose ideas and methods of procedure were destined to develop into the two most opposed tendencies in French philosophy to-day. MAINE DE BIRAN, in his "Essai sur les fondements de la psychologie et sur ses rapports avec l'étude de la nature," 1812, reaffirmed the tendency, employed so successfully by Descartes, of making self-conscious analysis the basis for metaphysics. On the one hand, he attached himself to the Ideologists who continued the tradition of CONDILLAC'S sensational psychology; but, on the other, he so deepened the scope of this psychology that he made it reveal the inner consciousness of man as a continually unfolding dynamic process in which the sense of effort is central and in which man's freedom is revealed. On the basis of this psychological analysis Maine de Biran suggested the possibilities of a spiritualistic interpretation not only of human nature but also of physical nature. This suggestion, taken up and developed by Victor COUSIN, Felix RAVAISSON, Jules LACHELIER, Émile BOUTROUX, Henri BERGSON, and others, has continued down to the present day as one of the most original strands of idealistic thought in the nineteenth century.
Unfortunately COUSIN mingled Maine de Biran's fruitful suggestions with diverse and incongruous elements into a shallow Eclecticism, altogether too subservient to conservative political ends and the requirements of a school philosophy. RAVAISSON, on the contrary, in "De l'habitude" and "Rapport sur la philosophie en France au XIXe siècle," making full use of de Biran's method and ideas, but also drawing on Aristotle, Leibnitz, and Schelling, arrived at a comprehensive realistic spiritualism in which nature appears as a refraction or diminution of mind (" esprit"). Falling under the spell of Ravaisson but also profoundly influenced by Kant, whose thought he introduced into academic circles in France, LACHELIER, in "Du fondement de l'induction," "Étude sur le syllogisme," and "Psychologie et métaphysique," has demonstrated the necessity of subordinating ultimately physical causation and mechanism to final causation and teleology. Influenced alike by Ravaisson's doctrine of habit as the analogy most illuminating in interpreting. the relation between the material and spiritual aspects of our experience and by Lachelier's criticism of the causal concept, BOUTROUX, in "De la contingence des lois de la nature," and "De l'idée de loi naturelle," sketches an evolutionary conception of the world in which laws, conceived on the analogy of habits, are contingent and ever in course of development.
In this same general current of tradition stands BERGSON. In a brilliant series of monographs," Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience," "Matière et mémoire," and "L'Évolution créatrice," he has attempted, on the one hand, to show the fallacy involved in the method of intellectual analysis and the inadequacy of the rational, mechanical interpretation of the world in which it inevitably issues; on the other hand, he has endeavored to display the fruitfulness of intuition as the method which can reveal the immediately given data which make up our concrete experience. On the basis of these data the world discloses itself to us as a qualitative process of continuous change, unfolding itself after the manner of our innermost psychological life of which the very essence is time. Closely associated with this same tendency, though basing their conclusions more directly on a critical examination of the methods and results of science, are the three mathematicians, the late Henri POINCARÉ, Gaston MILHAUD, and Edouard LEROY. Milhaud and LeRoy have recently entered the ranks of professional philosophers.
In sharp contrast to this spiritualistic tendency in French thought is the current which is characterized, on the one hand, by the attempt to make the study of social relations the starting point for the solution of all philosophical problems; and, on the other hand, by its method, called Positivistic, which maintains that explanation consists in stating as accurately as possible the constant relations which are observed to hold between our sense-impressions, elimination having been made of all theories, hypotheses, or other intellectual interpretations. SAINT-SIMON in his "Réorganisation de la société européenne" and numerous other works emphasized the first phase of the movement. His pupil, Auguste COMTE, added to it the method, and thus became the founder of Positivism. The systematic application of this method to social relations in his great work," Cours de philosophie positive," entitles Comte to the honor of founding the strict science of Sociology. The dominant idea in his doctrine of the classification of the sciences --- that the sciences are arranged in a hierarchy of increasing complexity passing from mathematics to sociology, and that the subject matter of no science is reducible to the laws and principles of another has become almost an axiom of subsequent thought.
If the positivistic method be interpreted broadly as a distrust of all metaphysics and as a demand to keep to concrete problems, especially the problems of man's social and historical life, then is it possible to attach to this same tradition Ernest RENAN and Hippolyte TAINE. Not, however, that the standpoint of either of these original thinkers can be identified the one with the other or with orthodox Positivism. RENAN, in his "Dialogues et fragments philosophiques" and "L'Avenir de la science," supports the standpoint of scientific probabilism; while TAINE, in his famous work "De l'intelligence" unfolds and illustrates the method of intellectual analysis. Both Renan and Tame are quite as well, if not better, known for their great historical than for their philosophical works. (Vide Renan: "Les origines du Christianisme," "Histoire du peuple d'Israël," "Vie de Jésus;" Taine: "Histoire de la littérature anglaise" and "Les origines de la France contemporaine.")
Today the tradition of Positivism is represented by a very influential and closely organized school with an organ of its own, "L'Année sociologique." Émile DURKHEIM, the recognized leader of the school, has developed the method of its procedure in "Les règles de la méthode sociologique." This method has been carried out in a systematic and brilliant manner by DURKHEIM, in "De la division du travail," "Le suicide," "Les formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse" and other studies; by LÉVY-BRUHL, in "La morale et la science des moeurs" and "Les fonctions mentales dans les sociétés inférieures;" by C. BOUGLÉ in "Le régime des castes;" by H. HUBERT and M. MAUSS, in "Le sacrifice," "La magie," and other studies; by Fr. SIMIAND, in "Le salaire des ouvriers des mines;" by M. HALBWACHS in "La classe ouvrière et les niveaux de vie;" and by numerous others in the studies of "L'Année sociologique."
Aside from its spiritualistic and positivistic tendencies, French thought has shown its vigor and originality in several other directions. Taking as his point of departure the philosophy of KANT but stressing especially the Critique of Practical Reason, Charles RENOUVIER worked his way out to a strictly independent standpoint in his "Essais de critique générale." He affirms the independence of the human person; he shows how freedom must be reintegrated in the very structure of the world. Among the thinkers who have attached themselves to this standpoint of Neo-Criticism are the late F. PILLON, for many years the editor of the organ founded by Renouvier, "L'Année philosophique"; the late O. HAMELIN; and L. DAURIAC.
Drawing his inspiration alike from the philosophy of Plato, which he so brilliantly expounded in his earlier years, and from the doctrine of evolution which made such a profound impression on French thought in the latter part of the nineteenth century, Alfred FOUILLÉE arrived at an evolutionary conception of the world which is both strictly rational and teleological. This evolution is mediated through what Fouillée has called "idées-forces," ideas which are at the same time activities tending to realize themselves. This doctrine he has set forth in "L'Évolution des idées-forces," "La psychologie des idées-forces," and numerous other works. His nephew, J. M. GUYAU, supported vigorously this same doctrine till his untimely death.
We have touched upon only a few of the more prominent and original currents in French thought in the nineteenth century which are still influential to-day. Limitation prevents us from more than mentioning several other tendencies. The profound movement in the philosophy of religion, generally known as Modernism, has been developed within very liberal Catholic circles mostly by French thinkers such as LOISY, Maurice BLONDEL, LABERTHONNIÈRE, E. LEROY, FONSÉGRIVE, WILBOIS, and others. In Protestant circles Auguste SABATIER has originated anew and profound doctrine in his works: "Esquisse d'une philosophie de la religion d'après la psychologie et l'histoire" and "Les religions d'autorité et la religion de l'esprit." French scientists have always shown a veritable genius for developing the logic of their own methods and subjecting them to criticism. Within the last third of a century scientific logic and methodology has been almost completely transformed by the works of Claude BERNARD, Ant. COURNOT, Paul and Jules TANNERY, LECHALAS, COUTURAT, DUHEM, PICARD, PERRIN, BOREL, Pierre BOUTROUX, Henri and Lucien POINCARÉ, BLOCH, WINTER, MEVERSON, and many others. Highly important contributions have been made to the fields of ethics, aesthetics, history of philosophy, psychology and social philosophy.
Inadequate as such a brief sketch as this must be in even suggesting the full originality of French philosophical thought, still it must suffice, since the prospective student of philosophy in France is likely to be more interested in the actual organization of the courses in the French schools to-day than in the achievements of the past.
Instruction at the Universities. Paris. It is a trite statement that Paris is the intellectual center of France; yet so far at least as philosophy is concerned this is literally true. The courses at the Faculty of Letters of the University of Paris and at the Collège de France represent only a small portion of the entire philosophical activity of the capital. Outside the University teaching staff are many men prominent in the philosophical world: editors and staff-men of the various publications and men in private life, such as X. LÉON, H. BERR, P. GAULTIER, L. DAURIAC, R. BERTHELOT, L. WEBER, M. WINTER, Fr. PAULHAN, G. PALANTE; administrators of the educational system, such as L. LIARD, G. BELOT, J. LACHELIER, E. BOUTROUX; teachers in lycées, collèges, private and technical schools, such as D. PARODI, FONSÉGRIVE, MALAPERT, BAZAILLOS, CRESSON, DUNAN, PlAT, SERTILLANGES, HALÉVY, LECHALAS. It is possible from time to time for the foreign student to come into direct contact with the thought of some of these men through the special courses arranged from year to year at the École des Hautes Études sociales and the Collège libre des Sciences sociales and through the discussions of the Société française de Philosophie. This latter society, founded in 1901, has become the great clearing-house for philosophical ideas in France. The hospitality of its meetings, held monthly from December to May, is not infrequently extended to foreigners through the courtesy of some member.
At the Collège de France and at the Sorbonne the greatest freedom is allowed the lecturers in the choice of the subjects which they treat; consequently no definite description of courses can be given. At the Collège de France BERGSON lectures twice a week, one hour presenting some phase of his own philosophy, the other hour expounding the work of some classical philosopher. During 1914-15 and 1915-6, LEROY of the Lycée Saint-Louis has been substituting for Bergson. He has been lecturing on the modern criticism of experimental science and its philosophical consequences, a theme which he brilliantly developed a few years ago in a series of studies in "La Revue de métaphysique et de morale," 1899-1901. IZOULET, who occupies the chair of Social Philosophy, usually treats of some phase of French social development in the eighteenth or nineteenth century. He is widely known for his work on "La cité moderne." Pierre JANET, perhaps the most distinguished representative of pathological psychology today, treats of a wide range of subjects within his field.
At the Faculty of Letters about a third of the courses are organized exclusively with reference to the requirements for obtaining the two French degrees, the "licence" and the "diplôme d'études supérieures," and for passing the competitive examination, known as the "agrégation," which aims at selecting teachers for the lycées and collèges. The rest of the courses cover an unlimited range of subjects. DELACROIX, the most distinguished representative of psychology of religion in France, usually deals with some phase of this subject. (Vide his "Essai sur le mysticisme spéculatif en Allemagne au XIVe siècle" and "Études d'histoire et de psychologie du mysticisme.") BRUNSCHVICG is best known for his study in Spinoza and his work on the logic of mathematics, "Les étapes de la philosophie mathématique." LALANDE always expounds some phase of the logic and methods of science. (Vide his "La dissolution opposée à l'évolution dans les sciences physiques et morales.") MILHAUD has made some remarkable contributions to the history, criticism, and logic of science in his "Essai sur les conditions et les limites de la certitude logique," "Le rationnel," and his two series of studies in the history of scientific thought. L. ROBIN has charge of the work in ancient philosophy, and F. PICAVET of the work in mediaeval philosophy. The former has produced two excellent studies in Plato: "Théorie platonicienne des idées et des nombres d'après Aristote" and "La théorie platonicienne de l'amour." The latter has written two of the most accurate and impartial histories of mediaeval philosophy and theology ever produced: "Esquisse d'une histoire générale et comparée des philosophies médiévales" and "Essais sur l'histoire générale et comparée des théologies et des philosophies médiévales." Of the achievements of DURKHEIM and two of his associates at the Sorbonne, LÉVY-BRUHL and BOUGLÉ, we have already spoken. DURKHEIM occupies the combined chair of Education and Sociology, and usually presents courses along both of these lines. LÉVY-BRUHL always lectures on some aspect of the history of modern philosophy. BOUGLÉ holds the chair of Social Economy; in 1914-5 he treated the following subjects: "La formation du socialisme démocratique en France de 1830 1848" and "Recherches sur l'économie politique et la morale sociale." G. DUMAS who fills the chair of Experimental Psychology, keeps closely to the French tradition of treating this subject from the pathological standpoint. He has written several notable works: "Le sourire," "La tristesse et la joie," "Psychologie de deux messies positivistes."
Other Universities. Though Paris offers a wealth of talent in philosophy both within and without the University which cannot be duplicated in any other center in France, still there is a large number of notable and original thinkers occupying chairs of philosophy in the other fifteen universities scattered throughout the country. Maurice BLONDEL became one of the initiators of the Modernistic movement through his famous work entitled "L'Action." At Bordeaux are BREHIER, who has written one of the best works on Schelling, and RUYSSEN, who has produced some excellent studies in the history of philosophy, especially on Kant and Schopenhauer. Abel REY, at the University of Dijon, has vigorously championed the extreme mechanical standpoint of science in his two works: "L'Energétiqué et le mécanisme" and "La théorie de la physique chez les physiciens contemporains." E. GOBLOT, at the University of Lyon, has done some very original work in the classification of the sciences. FOUCAULT, at the University of Montpellier, and BOURDON, at the University of Rennes, are both well known for their investigations in psychology. (Vide Foucault: "La psychophysique" and "Le rêve"; Bourdon: "De l'expression des émotions et des tendances dans le langage.") P. SOURIAU, at the University of Nancy, has made very valuable contributions to the subject of aesthetics: "La rêverie esthétique," "La beauté rationnelle," and "La suggestion dans l'art." MAUXION and RIVAUD, at the University of Poitiers, have both contributed to the history of philosophy, the former by his works on Herbart, the latter by his work on Spinoza and his study in "Le problème du devenir et la notion de la matière, des origines jusqu'à Théophraste."
But these are only a few philosophers among many in the provincial universities whose achievements entitle them to special mention. This sketch can only be suggestive.
Since the work in all the French universities is highly co-ordinated under one central administration, there are no difficulties in passing from one university to another without loss of time, grade, or privileges. This makes it possible to seek out anywhere in France the representative of any line of work in which one may be interested and to pursue one's studies under his direction. If to the unusually varied and intense creative activity manifested by French philosophy today be added the very hospitable and generous attitude of the administration of philosophical studies toward foreigners, especially Americans, there would seem to be every reason why an increasing number of students from the United States should avail themselves of the opportunities which France offers.
Some forty years ago a young American physicist conceived, planned, and executed an experiment of unusual difficulty. He impressed upon a small electric charge a speed so great that this charge, while in motion, exhibited the magnetic properties of an ordinary electric current --- a phenomenon of first importance. The manipulative skill required for this experiment was so great that more than one European physicist, attempting to repeat the process, failed. Most noteworthy of these failures was that of Crémieu, working under the auspices of the Sorbonne, with an equipment which left little to be desired. In the meantime (1900), the original work had been repeated and verified by another young American physicist, who was invited by the University of Paris to come to France and repeat the experiment in conjunction with Crémieu, in order that all doubt might be resolved and the facts of the case established. The invitation was accepted; the two men working together discovered the cause of Crémieu's negative results, and then wrote up their work in a joint paper (Phys. Rev., 1903) which established, probably for all time, the original discovery.
This incident is mentioned merely as an illustration of that openness of mind, receptivity for new ideas, and love of truth which is thoroughly characteristic of the French man of science. It was this same attitude of mind which prompted the French to invite another American to Paris when they decided to determine the metre in terms of the wavelength of light.
A second characteristic of the French scholar is a quality of mind best described, in terms of his own language, as "clarté." It is that ability in clear exposition which comes only to him who has studied the matter profoundly. The lucidity of the French treatise is that of an author who has renounced every idea which he has not made thoroughly his own.
A third characteristic of the French investigator is of interest to every young man who is thinking of studying abroad, namely, his vivacious good humor, his lightness of touch, his cheerful, optimistic disposition. No one esteems these traits more highly than the man who works in a physical laboratory.
The high originality which is typical of the French mind may, perhaps, be best illustrated by running briefly over a few of the contributions which this nation has made to some of the subdivisions of physics.
A backward glance at the literature of the world soon convinces one that the classics are not many in number. The mature student of any subject, indeed, finds the facts and phenomena multitudinous, while its principles may usually be counted upon the fingers of two hands. In like manner, one who considers the history of any science finds not many names of the first rank. The chief actors are few, but of these France has had a very large share.
If modern physics may be dated from the birth of NEWTON and the death of GALILEO (1642) ---the time when HUYGENS, DESCARTES, PASCAL, and TORRICELLI were in their prime --- and if one makes an inventory of fundamental ideas introduced during the nearly three centuries which have followed that date, the chances are that he will be somewhat surprised at the rôle which the investigators of France have continuously played. For the features of a landscape upon which a people live are not more permanent than the intellectual character of that people.
As regards Mechanics: Father MERSENNE investigated the dynamics of vibrating strings as early as 1636 six years before the birth of Newton. VARIGNON shares with Newton the credit of introducing the new dynamics---now called the Newtonian dynamics. His" Project" appeared in the same year with Newton's "Principia" and quite independently of it.
Students of Mechanics can never forget the three brilliant contemporaries --- D'ALEMBERT, LAGRANGE, and LAPLACE --- who were living in Paris when Benjamin Franklin was there, so ably representing the American cause. A half century later POINSOT created our rotational dynamics; later this was followed by the experimental researches of FOUCAULT on the pendulum and gyrostat. Eminent contributions to the theory of elasticity and wave-motion came from POISSON and CAUCHY; work along the same line being carried on today by BOUSSINESQ and HADAMARD.
In the domain of vibrating bodies, the names of LAGRANGE, FOURIER, LISSAJOUS, and KOENIG at once come up. A distinct and important contribution to thermal science is recognized at the mention of each of the following men, CARNOT, CLAPEYRON, DULONG and PETIT, REGNAULT, BECQUEREL, POUILLET, AMAGAT, CHAPPUIS, GUILLAUME. The wave theory of light --- the theory of transverse vibrations --- was created and established largely by FRESNEL, ARAGO, CAUCHY, JAMIN, FIZEAU, FOUCAULT, CORNU, and MASCART.
Just as the quantitative side of Electrostatics was set forth by COULOMB, so the quantitative description of Electromagnetism was first given by AMPERE, BIOT and SAVART. FOURIER formulation of heat-conduction was early adapted by OHM to the case of electric conduction. GRAMME in 1876 sent to America two of his new generators, equipped with ring-armatures of his own design; these machines mark the beginning of a new era of large electric currents and of electrical transmission of power.
In the field of radioactivity, BECQUEREL and the CURIES are known even to the man on the street.
Instruction in the Universities. Paris. To-day this brilliant succession of investigators is continued, in the Faculté des Sciences of the University of Paris, by such productive scholars as BOUSSINESQ, who is lecturing on Heat Conduction; BOUTY, who offers courses on Thermodynamics; LIPPMANN, whose subject is announced as Electrocapillarity and Optics; and Mme. CURIE, whose topic is naturally Radioactivity. Still other courses in physics are offered by LEDUC Cotton ABRAHAM, and KOENIGS.
In the department of Mathematics, certain other lectures with a physical trend are given by APPELL, GUICHARD, DRACH, and others.
The astrophysical investigations of DESLANDRES in the observatory at Meudon are known to be of the highest order and along the same lines in which HALE in our own country has acquired eminence.
Many advanced students in physics will be interested in the opportunities for work along the closely related line of Physical Chemistry in which courses are offered by LE CHATELIER, URBAIN, and PERRIN. In the Collège de France, the work of LANGEVIN in experimental physics and HADAMARD in mathematical physics is well known in America.
Both at the Sorbonne and at the Collège de France the laboratory equipment is remarkably complete and quite available.
Other Universities. But the opportunities which France offers for higher work in Physics are not limited to Paris.
Along the western portion of the country lie the well known Universities of Rennes, Poitiers, and Bordeaux. At the first named institution, LE ROUX offers distinguished courses in Mechanics, pure and applied; at POITIERS, one finds GARBE and TURPAIN, in Physics. DUHEM, whom the world has just lost, has made Bordeaux a familiar name in Physics everywhere. Here H. BÉNARD offers opportunities in general physics.
Among the many charms of Southern France are always to be included the three renowned universities at Toulouse, Montpellier, and Marseille. BOUASSE and COSSERAT, in Physics and Astronomy respectively, are among the leading men on the staff at Toulouse. MESLIN is in charge of Physics at Montpellier. Some American students, whose work is now well known, have already enjoyed the privileges of study at the city of Marseille, at once so ancient and so very modern. Here will be found a distinguished trio of productive scholars in L. HOULLEVIQUE, C. FABRY, and H. BUISSON. It is doubtful if better opportunities for research in Spectroscopy are to be found in any other place.
At Lyon, a little farther north, yet still in the southern half of France, the student of Physics will find unusual opportunities with the well known investigator, Georges GOUY.
The above mentioned are but a portion of the facilities, intellectual and material, to which France generously opens wide the door.