Modern French Philosophy

  • by John Alexander Gunn, Sofia Pisou
  • Narrated by Carrie Steele
  • 11 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

It is not unjustly held the best review on French philosophy of 19th century was given through the shrewd insight and simple language of Alexander Gunn. Modern French Philosophy is a must-hear for all students and lovers of philosophy who are interested in the development of the main currents of spiritualism and neo-critical schools as well as at the independent voices who marked the advent of a new era in European thought, defined the notions of freedom, progress, and ethics, and established a lasting relationship among science, religion and philosophy. Includes:


A brief background of the author and the work
Overview, synopsis, and analysis
Historical context, criticisms, and social impact
Chapter-by-chapter summary
The full narration of the text

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

As relevant as today as when first published

A coherent look at different French thinkers and why they still matter today. The book was originally written in 1925 and one gets a contemporary take of a cross section of the greatest French thinkers of that time period. The author says these French thinkers mark a half way point between the fact based British thinkers and the 'a priori' abstract Germans. World thought was making a pivot as this book was being published and this book gives a memorialization to how the world was thought of before that pivot was made.

These group of thinkers covered in the book are diverse thinkers. They react mostly to Kant and Hegel through the lens of August Comte, a positivist. The thinkers lay a ground work for the foundation of the real through science that will culminate in the logical positivist but by first going through Bergson with his intuition, elan vital and creative evolution, and into a spiritualism of sorts. The author notes that the thinkers want to see the world in terms of mind and not mind/brain and they ended up embracing a form of spiritualism that would characterize early 20th century Anglo thought.

The thinkers also took our conception of the self away from that of 'character' to that of 'personality'. Character is that which is formed by outside of the individual while personality is developed within the individual. Those who want to blame the victim consider the person's lack of character as a fault of the person brought about by their community, those who believe that 'there but for the grace of the universe go I' realize that our personality is not always within our control. A really large part of the debate during this period of time was concerning whether or not everything always happens for a reason thus creating a necessary universe or whether or not cause does not always precede effect thus creating a contingent universe. The essences of things and the meaning of the now are at stake with this debate. Einstein will say that the universe is a block universe and time is but an illusion, quantum physics and Bergson will say that time is an emergent property of the universe and that time is real.

There's a real fascinating dynamic of how the currents of the era effected the thinkers. In particular, the revolutions of 1848 and the Pope declaring the assumption of Mary and thus leading to his claim of infallibility effected how the thinkers reflected the era they were thrown into. Ultimately, the world we are thrown into and how we react to the "they", the distractions created by 'idle chatter', the entanglements that entrap us, and the attunement we have with the zeitgeist of the time take us away from our own innermost authentic selves.

These thinkers set the stage for the logical positivist that will soon arrive, and they lay a foundation for how we ultimately think about the nature of science. This book does a great job at explaining the French thinkers. As I always like to say "who amongst us doesn't love the late 19th century French philosophers?".

(I had no problem what so ever with the narrator. They did a great job. So what if they mispronounce 'Descartes'. I know what they mean. I for one appreciate that audible makes these kind of books available and realize that they don't really sell that many copies of this kind of book, and to criticize the narrator who is probably grossly underpaid on these kind of books bedevils my imagination.)



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- Gary

Awesome review of French Philosophy!

Would you listen to Modern French Philosophy again? Why?

Absolutely! If you're a fan of French Philosophy, you'll love this audiobook.


What did you like best about this story?

How ideas have evolved in French society since the inception of western philosophy.


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- shawnyshawn

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-29-2014
  • Publisher: AudioLearn