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La Réception philosophique du pragmatisme en France : William James dans ses rapports avec Charles Renouvier (1870-1912)

Abstract : Interest in American pragmatism characterizes among other things the French intellectual landscape, in particular at the turn of the 20th century. This leads us to inquire into the French reception of what was originally an American currant of thought as well as its significant stages of development, making it possible to follow and understand the actual history of pragmatism in France. Such is the aim of this study: an examination of pragmatism, with particular emphasis on William James and his interactions with Charles Renouvier, who was one of the most influential French philosophers of his time. By focusing on his intellectual battle against any form of the absolute, his recognition of experience (or phenomena) and his fundamental thesis on freedom, we can grasp his neo-critical philosophy and the reasons for which he influenced his intellectual ally, James, and opened the way, enabling him to elaborate an American philosophical doctrine. Our philosophical analysis of the French reception of pragmatism thus makes it possible to bring out the major role and the essential contribution of Renouvier with regard to the historical development of American philosophy, namely that of James, whose pragmatist endeavor owes a lot to his French counterpart. Renouvier’s correspondence with James, his translations of the latter’s early articles as well as their publication in his journal, La Critique philosophique, represent a significant “moment”, which redefines and reveals Renouvier as a major figure, his intellectual affinities with James and the influence he exerted on the philosophical work of the American author. Renouvier’s impact on James can be perceived already in the early articles of the latter and extend up until his final texts: the fundamental thesis of freedom that Renouvier had formulated in his Essais de critique générale can be traced ̶ through its implications and consequences ̶ under various forms in the philosophy of the author of pragmatism. James was able to adapt this philosophy with a remarkable originality within the context of American thought, bestowing on it a truly pragmatist dimension, in accordance with its philosophical and intellectual aspirations.
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Euloge Ndjimby. La Réception philosophique du pragmatisme en France : William James dans ses rapports avec Charles Renouvier (1870-1912). Philosophie. Université Paul Valéry - Montpellier III, 2019. Français. ⟨NNT : 2019MON30040⟩. ⟨tel-02735548⟩

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