Who is Charles Bernard Renouvier?

Who is Charles Bernard Renouvier?

June 25, 2021 Off By Felso

Charles BernardCharles Bernard Renouvier or Charles Renouvier is a French thinker who lived between 1815-1903 and was influenced by Leibniz and Kant and influenced William James, the founder of pragmatism.

Saying that things are phenomena in terms of knowledge, Renouvier did not deduce from this that things depend on the subject for their existence, as Berkeley did. Understanding a synthesis of designs with I, Renouvier tried to overcome this empiricism with freedom of will.

French philosopher, founder of French Neo-Kantianism. He tried to improve Kant’s theory of knowledge by reinterpreting it.

Born January 1, 1815, in Montpellier, died September 1, 1903, Prades. After completing his primary education in his birthplace, he first joined the youth who adopted the views of Saint-Simon in Paris, where he came in 1831, and then entered the Polytechnic School, where August Comte taught. After studying mathematics at this institution for a while, he concentrated all his studies on philosophy and sociology. His early youth works, Manuel de philosophie modeme (“Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy”) and Manuel de philosophie ancienne (“Handbook of Ancient Philosophy”) were published in 1842 and 1844. He wrote a few articles in the Encyclopedie nouvelle published by P. Leroux and J. Reynaud.

He was involved in social events for a while. He collected and published his articles on the 1848 Revolution in a book. His articles defending freedom of thought appeared in the newspaper La feuille de la Republique. After the change of administration in 1851, he continued his studies on religion and philosophy. In 1868, he published Annee philosophieque with his friend, writer Pillon. He later changed the name of this journal to Critique philosophieque and directed it for twenty years.

Beginning principle, number, finite-infinite

Renouvier’s philosophy is based on a view that feeds on science and aims to reconcile morality with religion. What is important for this understanding of philosophy, which gives wide coverage to the principle of contradiction, is to reach a definite judgment on the problems of knowledge and belief that everyone can agree on. In order to come to this conclusion, it is necessary to come up with a reliable solution to three fundamental problems, namely the initial principle, freedom, and the relativity of beings to each other.

Renouvier tries to explain these three problems by considering them in a methodical integrity. Benefiting from the thinking methods developed by philosophers such as Leibniz, Hume, Kant, Hegel and A. Comte and the mathematician Cauchy, Renouvier first focuses on the initial principle. According to Cauchy, infinite numbers are impossible, so small chunks of numbers must be finite chunks. Starting from this view, Renouvier also argues that there should be a pure principle that can be the source of the universe. According to this initial principle, events are both finite and dominated by numbers. Events form a series, which, as one goes back, is understood to be a dynamic and actual beginning. However, this beginning does not carry a legal obligation, it is the effect arising from the relations created by a will that does what it wishes. The relation of this effect with the contradiction principle associated with numbers is as follows: number exists only through the act of counting, since the number exists, the existence of an infinite number is both an integrated synthesis and an incomplete synthesis due to the infinity of the number. Here, the starting principle, based on the finite-infinite contradiction of numbers, brings up the finite-infinite nature of events.

Freedom, choice and will

In the solution of the freedom problem, Renouvier, inspired by the thoughts of the philosopher J. Lequier, relies on the principle of free will. The source of free will is morality and spiritual life, it has no a priori or internal feature. When a person is caught between freedom and necessity, he feels the need to choose one of them without relying on any spiritual motive. This selection is also an affirmation. If the person approves of necessities, that approval can be true or false. If the confirmation turns out to be correct, information about it is certain and inevitable. Yet another person’s knowledge of freedom is also necessary, without choice. For the conditions prevailing in the two cases are equally necessary. Here a questionable situation arises as one chooses freedom and the other necessitity. If the confirmation is not correct, the conclusion is incorrect. The situation does not change in the affirmation and denial of freedom, so one encounters two contradictory situations in exercising one’s free will. These contradictory situations show the moral responsibility of the person. Because the person has chosen one of the two situations based on his free will, and he has given his final judgment about opposite focuses such as freedom and necessity.

Renouvier puts forward his own view on the relativity of events, inspired by Kant and A. Comte. According to him, there are only events and there is a relative connection between them. This connection can be seen in objects as composite or as a component.


According to Renouvier, who sets out from Kant’s theory of knowledge in the solution of the knowledge problem, every designed object is an event and exists or exists.