World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Maine de Biran

Article Id: WHEBN0000174287
Reproduction Date:

Title: Maine de Biran  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: List of philosophy anniversaries, Philipp Albert Stapfer, Procedural memory, Émile Boutroux, Jean-Bernard Duvivier
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Maine de Biran

Maine de Biran
Born (1766-11-29)November 29, 1766
Grateloup (near Bergerac), Périgord
Died July 20, 1824(1824-07-20) (aged 57)
Other names François-Pierre-Gonthier Maine de Biran (full name)
Era Modern philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School French Spiritualism
Notable ideas
"Volo, ergo sum"[1]

François-Pierre-Gonthier Maine de Biran (French: ; November 29, 1766 – July 20, 1824), usually known simply as Maine de Biran, was a French philosopher.


  • Life 1
  • Thought 2
  • Criticism 3
    • Equating "cause" with "force" 3.1
  • Portraits 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Maine de Biran was born at Bergerac. The name Maine he assumed (some time before 1787) from an estate called Le Maine, near Mouleydier. After studying with distinction at Périgueux, he entered the life guards of King Louis XVI of France, and was present at Versailles during the events of October 1789. He entered politics and was part of the Conseil des Cinq Cents.[5] On the breaking up of the gardes du corps Biran retired to his patrimonial inheritance of Grateloup, near Bergerac, where he avoided the excesses of the French Revolution.

It was at this period that, to use his own words, he "passed per saltum from frivolity to philosophy". He began with psychology, which he made the study of his life. After the Reign of Terror, Maine de Biran took part in politics. Having been excluded from the Council of the Five Hundred on suspicion of royalism, he took part with his friend Joseph Lainé in the commission of 1813, which first expressed direct opposition to the will of the emperor Napoleon. After the restoration of the monarchy, he became treasurer to the chamber of deputies, retiring during each autumn recess to study at home. The exact date of his death is uncertain.


Maine de Biran's philosophical reputation has suffered because of his obscure and laboured style, and the fact that only a few of the least characteristic of his writings appeared during his lifetime: the essay on habit (Sur l'influence de l'habitude, 1803), a critical review of Pierre Laromiguière's lectures (1817), and the philosophical portion of the article "Leibnitz" in the Biographie universelle (1819). A treatise on the analysis of thought (Sur la décomposition de la pensée) was never printed. In 1834 these writings, together with the essay entitled Nouvelles considérations sur les rapports du physique et du moral de l'homme, were published by Victor Cousin, who in 1841 added three volumes, under the title Œuvres philosophiques de Maine de Biran. But the publication (in 1859) by Édouard Naville (from manuscripts placed at his father's disposal by Biran's son) of the Œuvres inédites de Maine de Biran, in three volumes, first rendered possible a connected view of his philosophical development.

At first a cause, power, force, etc.

In the last stage of his philosophy, Biran distinguished the animal existence from the human, under which the three forms above noted are classed. And both from the life of the spirit, in which human thought is brought into relation with the supersensible, divine system of things. This stage is left imperfect. Altogether Biran's work presents a very remarkable specimen of deep metaphysical thinking directed by preference to the psychological aspect of experience.


Equating "cause" with "force"

Schopenhauer,[6] claimed that "No one has carried this confusion, or rather identification, of natural force with cause so far as Maine de Biran has in his Nouvelles considérations des rapports du physique au moral, since this is essential to his philosophy." This confusion of force of nature and cause occurred often throughout the book. “[W]hen he speaks of causes, he hardly ever puts cause alone, but almost always says cause ou force….” Schopenhauer believed that the confusion was intentional. Biran was "conscious of identifying two disparate concepts in order to be able to make use of either of them according to the circumstances." Therefore he purposely equated cause with force in order "to keep the identification present in the reader’s mind."


See also


  1. ^ Horst Albert Glaser and György Mihály Vajda (eds.), Die Wende Von Der Aufklärung Zur Romantik 1760-1820: Epoche Im Überblick, John Benjamins Publishing, 2000, p. 325.
  2. ^ Frederick Charles Copleston, , Volume 9A History of Philosophy, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2003, p. 23.
  3. ^ Maine de Biran, Mémoire sur la décomposition de la pensée, Tome I: "Introduction de l'éditeur, par Pierre Tisserand" (juillet 1921), PUF, 1952 (PDF page 23); also in: Oeuvres de Maine de Biran Tome III-IV, Mémoire sur la décomposition de la pensée, Paris, 1924.
  4. ^ Frederick Charles Copleston, A History of Philosophy: Maine de Biran to Sartre, Paulist Press, 1946, p. 30
  5. ^  "François-Pierre-Gonthier Maine de Biran".  
  6. ^ On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, § 20


  • The Œuvres inédites of Maine de Biran by E. Naville contains an introductory study
  • in 1887 appeared Science et psychologie: nouvelles œuvres inédites, with introduction by A. Bertrand
  • O. Merton, Étude critique sur Maine de Biran (1865)
  • E Naville, Maine de Biran, sa vie et ses pensées (1874)
  • J. Gerard, Maine de Biran, essai sur sa philosophie (1876)
  • Mayonade, Pensées et pages inédites de Maine de Biran (Périgueux, 1896)
  • G. Allievo, Maine de Biran e la sua dottrina antropologica (Turin, 1896, in Memorie dell' accademia delle scienze, 2nd ser., xlv, pt. 2)
  • A. Lang, Maine de Biran und die neuere Philosophie (Cologne, 1901)
  • monographs by A. Kühtmann (Bremen, 1901) and M. Couailhac (1905)
  • A. de La Valette Monbrun, Maine de Biran (1766–1824): essai de biographie historique et psychologique..., Paris, 1914.
  • N. E. Truman in Cornell Studies in Philosophy, No. 5 (f 904) on Maine de Biran's Philosophy of Will.
  • Michel Henry. The Essence of Manifestation. The Hague: Nijoff, 1973
  • Michel Henry. Philosophy and Phenomenology of the Body. The Hague: Nijoff, 1975

External links

  • . Tome I at classiques.uqac.caMémoire sur la décomposition de la pensée
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from National Public Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.