Northern Illinois University Press

From Philosophy to Sociology

The Evolution of French Liberalism, 1870–1914

William Logue

While the origins of French fascism and French socialism have been widely studied, comparable attention has not been devoted to liberalism, despite the fact that liberalism was the dominant force in French political life at the turn of the century. This study delineates aspects previously unexplored in the history of liberalism as it is understood today. Examining sources heretofore neglected, Logue demonstrates the emergence in late nineteenth-century France of a new liberalism that rejected laissez-faire economics and paved the way for the welfare-state liberalism of the twentieth century. The emergence of this new liberalism was paralleled by a shift in the intellectual foundations of French liberalism from philosophy to sociology.

Early nineteenth-century French philosophy was dominated by the eclectics, followers of Victor Cousin, and From Philosophy to Sociology begins with a look at the political ideas of a group of eclectics: Adolphe Franck, Elme-Marie Caro, Paul Janet, and Jules Simon. Separate chapters are devoted to two of the most original minds of the nineteenth century, Charles Renouvier and Alfred Fouillée. The tenets of liberalism and especially its relation to the development of public education at the beginning of the Third Republic are examined in connection with the work of two popularizers of liberalism, Ferdinand Buisson and Gabriel Séailles. The relations of the emergent discipline of sociology to liberalism are then examined in the works of Alfred Espinas, Jean Izoulet, and Gabriel Tarde. Finally, the liberalism of Emile Durkheim is analyzed and additionally illustrated by consideration of works of two Durkheimians, Célestin Bouglé and Léon Duguit.

(1983) 291 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-088-2
cloth $32.00

Table of Contents

I. French Liberalism, Old and New
II. Eclecticism and Individualism
III. Charles Renouvier: Critical Philosophy and Liberal Democracy
IV. The Triumphant Republic: Liberalism and Education
V. Sociology and Liberalism: The Challenge
VI. Alfred Fouillée: Science and Liberal Democracy
VII. Durkheim's Sociology and the New Liberalism
VIII. Durkheimian Liberalism: Bouglé and Duguit
IX. Afterword

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-088-2
cloth $32.00