From Habit to Monads: Félix Ravaisson's Theory of Substance

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 23 (6):1085-1105 (2015)
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Abstract

In this article, I argue that in his 1838 De l'habitude, Félix Ravaisson uses the analysis of habit to defend a Leibnizian monadism. Recent commentators have failed to appreciate this because they read Ravaisson as a typically post-Kantian philosopher, and underemphasize the distinct context in which he developed his work. I explore three key claims made by interpreters who argue that Ravaisson should be read as a Schellingian, and show [i] that these claims are incompatible with the text of De l'habitude and [ii] how they have obscured from view the monadism at the heart of this work. This article is divided into two sections. First, I explain the importance of Victor Cousin and Maine de Biran for the development of nineteenth-century French philosophy. Second, I argue that to understand the structure of De l'habitude, it should be read as a critique of Cousin's philosophical method and a demonstration of the superiority of Biran's Leibniz-inspired introspective method. Like Biran, Ravaisson believes tha..

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Author's Profile

Jeremy William Dunham
Durham University