Access to the full content is only available to members of institutions that have purchased access. If you belong to such an institution, please log in or find out more about how to order.



Ravaisson-Mollien, Jean-Gaspard Félix Lacher (1813–1900)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DC061-2
Version: v2,  Published online: 2021
Retrieved June 12, 2024, from

Article Summary

Félix Ravaisson (1813–1900) was the most influential French philosopher in the second half of the nineteenth century. He was pivotal in the development of the French spiritualist tradition initiated at the beginning of the century by Pierre Maine de Biran’s (1766–1824) voluntarist philosophical psychology, according to which the ground of all consciousness is will, and that rose to the evolutionary philosophy that made Henri Bergson (1859–1941) a global intellectual celebrity in the years prior to the First World War. In opposition to the materialism and scientific positivism that was gaining ground in the middle of the century, Ravaisson’s spiritualist philosophy took the form of a panpsychism according to which biological life and material extension are forms of mind; what exists beyond the self-conscious mind is, by degrees, merely a relaxation or diffusion of mind. Prior to the will, as its condition, Ravaisson discovers embodied desire, inclination and, finally, love. He published only three major works, but they were all highly regarded: a two-volume study of Aristotle’s Metaphysics (1837 and 1846); his 1838 doctoral dissertation entitled De l’habitude (Of Habit) ([1838] 2008), whose unassuming title belies a grand philosophy of nature and general metaphysics elaborated on the basis of a reflection of our experience of habit; a report on the history of French philosophy commissioned for the 1867 Paris Exposition Universelle, whose final sections present a manifesto for a new French spiritualist movement ([1867] 1889). In addition to these works, and some shorter philosophical texts, Ravaisson wrote essays on art and drawing, classical archaeology, and the history of religions. These were not erudite excursions from his philosophical concerns, but rather direct expressions of the latter. His work offers original perspectives in metaphysics, aesthetics, and the philosophy of religion in particular, and translations have brought it to the attention of philosophers writing in English.

Citing this article:
Sinclair, Mark. Ravaisson-Mollien, Jean-Gaspard Félix Lacher (1813–1900), 2021, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DC061-2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

Related Articles