Une version traduite et complétée de cette bibliographie, présentée de manière chronologique, se trouve dans le deuxième Cahier Jules Lequier (2011).
Jules Lequyer (or Lequier) : Selected annotated bibliography of French and English Sources
Compiled by Donald Wayne Viney
Introduction : Jules Lequyer (1814-1862) was a Breton philosopher who published nothing during his lifetime, but who had a profound influence on the works of Charles Renouvier (1815-1903) and William James (1846-1910) and a lesser influence on French existentialism and American process philosophy. Until recently, English translations of Lequyer’s works were either fragmentary or not widely available. Likewise, the works of his friend and greatest champion, Renouvier, have not been rendered into English. Furthermore, most scholarly discussion of Lequyer was carried on in French. These facts may account for the relative neglect among English speaking philosophers of this “French philosopher of genius,” as James called him. Following is a list of the main sources on Lequyer in French and English, with annotations. Bibliographical information about the reviews of books that I have been able to find are included in the annotations. This bibliography remains a work-in-progress. Many of the sources on Lequyer are difficult to obtain either because they were originally printed in very limited editions or because they are in obscure publications. Lequyer’s name is often spelled “Lequier” and “Léquier,” although “Lequyer” is the official orthography.
Primary Sources and Biography
Hello, Ernest. “Jules Léquier.” Revue de Bretagne et de Vendée. Dix-huitième année, quatrième série, Tome V (Tome XXXV de la Collection), Mai 1874 (Biographie Bretonnes) : 377-381.
Ernest Hello (1828-1885), fellow Breton and an acquaintance of Lequyer, says, “Physically as well as morally, Léquier played with abysses” (381). Three months before Lequyer’s death, near the place where the bay would give up his body, the philosopher spoke of his aspirations. At this time, or some other—Hello is not clear on this point—Lequyer fell to his knees and prayed that he would accept all possible tests, save that of madness, if only he could penetrate the mystery of predestination (379). Hello says that Lequyer seized the truth of free will to the exclusion of other truths. “This profound thinker walked, without safeguards, along precipices” (379). In Hello’s view, the limit of Lequyer’s genius was in not seeing that, beyond the visual horizon, man is blinded by proximity to God and, in this terrible place, human sovereignty must be abdicated; but Lequyer refused to abdicate (378). Great men, humbling their genius, must adhere to the Church, not so much as an institution, but as a child holds to its mother. The madness that Lequyer feared, in view of the temerity of his prayer, “justly fell upon his head” (380). Hello’s stern judgments are tempered, in the closing paragraph, by a touching farewell prayer for his friend who may “contemplate, face to face, in the depths of mercy what he did not find in the subtleties of his intelligence . . . Rest in peace, my friend, and have your fill of immensity” (381).
Hémon, Prosper. “Notice Biographique de Jules Lequyer.” See Lequier 1991.
Le Brech, Goulven (2006). Jules Lequier. Rennes : La Part Commune.
Richly illustrated with material from Le Fonds Jules Lequier [Lequier archives] at Rennes, photographs, and the art of Tanguy Dohollau (son of Heather, see “Dohollau” under secondary sources), Le Brech’s biography shows many of the ways that Lequyer’s philosophy was inseparable from his life. Included among the illustrations is the only known portrait of Lequyer, drawn Mathurin Le Gal La Salle (p. 23). Le Brech (archivist at l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales) also shows how Lequyer’s legacy was insured by Charles Renouvier, Prosper Hémon, Baptiste Jacob, Louis Guilloux, Jean Grenier, Ludovic Dugas, André Clair and others. The book concludes with thirty pages of excerpts from Lequyer’s philosophical works and correspondence and a six page bibliography. Reviewed by Thierry de Toffoli for Revue philosophique de la France et de L’étranger, janvier-mars 2009, (PUF), n. 1, pp. 105-106, and François Bordes for Revue de synthèse, décembre 2009, tome 130, 6ème série, n°4. See also Stéphane Beau’s interview with Le Brech (secondary sources, Le Brech, 2007).
Lequier, Jules (1865). La Recherche d’une première vérité, fragments posthumes [The Search for a First Truth, Postumous Fragments]. Edited by Charles Renouvier. Saint-Cloud, Impr. de Mme Vve Belin.
Available on-line at :
This is the first edition of Lequyer’s works. Renouvier printed 120 copies of the book at his own expense. The book was never put up for sale but was given by the editor to his and Lequyer’s friends and admirers. In 1872 or 1873 Renouvier sent a copy of the book to William James, which copy is now housed in the Houghton Library at Harvard University. The book includes principally three sections, Comment trouver, comment chercher une première vérité ? [How to find, how to look for a first truth ?]—which includes “La feuille de charmille” [The Hornbeam Leaf]—Le Dialogue du Prédestiné et du Reprouvé [The Dialogue of the Predestinate and the Reprobate], and Abel et Abel, récit biblique [Abel and Abel, biblical narrative]. Renouvier’s name appears nowhere in the book, although it is known from his personal correspondence and other sources that he was the editor. When presenting the book to others he signed it and identified himself as the editor.
Lequier, Jules (1924). La Recherche d’une première vérité, fragments posthumes, recueillis par Charles Renouvier. Notice biographique, par Ludovic Dugas. Paris : Librairie Armand Colin.
This republication of Renouvier’s volume was the first edition of Lequyer’s writings to be widely available. Dugas’ fifty-eight page introductory essay, titled “La Vie, l’Œuvre et le Génie de Lequier” [The Life, Work, and Genius of Lequier], draws heavily on Hémon’s biography (see Lequier 1991). Reviewed by L. J. Russell in Mind v. 36 (1927), pp. 512-514.
Lequier, Jules (1936). La Liberté [Freedom]. Textes inédits présentes par Jean Grenier. Paris : Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin.
Contains many of Lequyer’s writings not found in La Recherche d’une première vérité. In addition, Grenier provides a catalogue of the manuscripts available in Le Fonds Lequier, the Lequyer archives at the University of Rennes.
Lequier, Jules (1952). Œuvres complètes [Complete Works]. Édition de Jean Grenier. Neuchâtel, Suisse : Éditions de la Baconnière.
Contains the complete texts of Renouvier’s edition of La Recherche d’une première vérité and Grenier’s edition of La Liberté as well as some of Lequyer’s correspondence. The title is somewhat misleading since not all of Lequyer’s works are included (see below, Turpin 1977).
Lequier, Jules (1968). La Dernière Page [The Last Page]. Préface de Jean Grenier. n.p. [Printing limited to 100 copies].
Lequier, Jules (1969). Je vois un pays aride [I see an arid land]. Paris : Guy Lévis Mano. [Printing limited to 795 copies].
A fifteen page booklet containing the last page that Lequyer wrote (cf. Lequier 1968 and Grenier’s edition, Lequier 1952, p. 492). Primarily of interest for its aesthetic and sentimental value.
Lequier, Jules (1985). Comment trouver, comment chercher une première vérité ? Suivi de “Le Murmure de Lequier (vie imaginaire)” par Michel Valensi [How to find, how to search for a first truth ? Followed by “The Murmure of Lequier (imaginary life)”]. Préface de Claude Morali. Paris : Éditions de l’éclat.
The first part of La Recherche d’une première vérité. Includes the last page Lequyer wrote (cf. Lequier 1968, Lequier 1969). It is of interest that Michel Valensi, founder of Éditions de l’Éclat, originally created the publishing house in order to publish Lequyer’s writings.
Lequier, Jules (2009). Comment trouver, comment chercher une première vérité ? Postface de Clarie Marin, “La fragilité du cogito” [The fragility of the cogito]. Paris : Éditions Allia.
The first four parts of Comment trouver, comment chercher une première vérité, minus the fragments of the fifth, sixth, and seventh parts that were included in the editions of Renouvier, Dugas, Grenier, Clair, and Valensi. Claire Marin’s (Professor of Philosophy at the École Normale Supérior) afterword highlights the differences between Descartes’ and Lequyer’s view of the “I think” (cogito). For Descartes, the cogito is the secure foundation on which knowledge is built, whereas for Lequyer it is a further occasion for doubt about the unity of the self. As Sartre would later elaborate in Existentialism is a Humanism, Lequyer affirms that, in making, one makes oneself. In Lequyer’s formula (found in the fragments that are left out of this edition) : “FAIRE, non pas devenir, mais faire, et en faisant, SE FAIRE” [TO MAKE, not to become, but to make, and in making, to make oneself.] (see below, Birnnbaum 2009).
Lequier, Jules (1991). Abel et Abel, suivi d’une “Notice Biographique de Jules Lequyer” [Abel and Abel followed by “A Biographical Notice of Jules Lequyer”] par Prosper Hémon. Édition de G. Pyguillem. Éditions de l’Éclat.
The greatest significance of this book for Lequyer scholars is the publication of Hémon’s biography. Although it is incomplete, it is the first extensively researched biography of the philosopher. It was written at the end of the nineteenth century. Dugas (cf. Lequier 1924), Viney (cf. translations, Viney and West 1999), and Le Brech (2006) are indebted to Hémon’s work. This book served as the model for Viney and West, 1999.
Lequier, Jules (1993). La Recherche d’une première vérité et autres textes, édition établie et présenté par André Clair. Paris : Presses Universitaires de France.
A reissue of Renouvier’s original volume with a couple of additions and a fine introduction by André Clair, professor of philosophy at Rennes. Reviewed by Donald Wayne Viney in Process Studies 23/4 (Winter 1994), pp. 290-291.
Lequier, Jules. “La Feuille Charmille” [The Hornbeam Leaf].
Available on-line :
Lequier, Jules. (2007). “La Feuille Charmille.” Le Grognard, Décembre : 8-11.
Addendum to an interview with Goulven Le Brech concerning his biography, Jules Lequier.
Lequier, Jules. (2009). “Pensées et Aphorismes” [Thoughts and Aphorisms]. Le Grognard, n. 10, Juin : 15.
Lequier, Jules. (2009). “C’est donc ton frère . . .” [It is then your brother . . .] Philosophie Magazine (Hors-Série), La Bible des Philosophes, L’Ancien Testament. Août-Septembre : 23.
This edition of Philosophie Magazine is devoted to the theme of how philosophers have used the Old Testament in their works. Lequyer’s Abel et Abel is excerpted. One of Tanguy Dohollau’s drawings of Lequyer accompanies the excerpt.
Viney, Donald W. “Incidents in the Life and Death of Jules Lequyer.” See translations, Viney and West 1999.
Wahl, Jean, Editor. (1948). Jules Lequier. Les Classiques de la Liberté. Genève et Paris : Editions des Trois Collines.
A selection of Lequyer’s writings on freedom drawn from Dugas’ edition of La Recherche d’une première vérité (1924), Grenier’s edition of La Liberté (1936), and Dugas’ selection of Lequyer’s extracts in Revue Bleue (1920). The book is 177 pages in length of which the first 117 are Wahl’s introduction. (See same entry under secondary sources).
Brimmer, Harvey H. (1974). “Jules Lequier’s ‘The Hornbeam Leaf’” Philosophy in Context, 3 : 94-100.
Brimmer and Jacqueline Delobel’s translation. Brimmer announced here that he was preparing Lequyer’s complete works for translation. This never appeared.
Brimmer, Harvey H. (1975). Jules Lequier and Process Philosophy (Doctoral Dissertation, Emory University), Dissertation Abstracts International, 36, 2892A.
The appendix to this dissertation contains Brimmer’s and Delobel’s translations of The Problem of Knowledge (which includes “The Hornbeam Leaf”) (pp. 291-354) and Probus, or the Principle of Knowledge (an alternate title for Le Dialogue du Prédestiné et du Reprouvé) (pp. 362-467). Brimmer also includes a sample of Lequyer’s handwriting.
Hartshorne, Charles and William L. Reese, editors (1953). Philosophers Speak of God. University of Chicago Press : 227-230.
Hartshorne and Reese provide the first English language translation of Lequyer’s writing, brief selections from Le Dialogue du Prédestiné et du Reprouvé.
Viney, Donald W. (1989). Questions of Value : Readings for Basic Philosophy. Needham Heights, Massachusetts : Ginn Press : 163-180.
Contains Viney’s translation of selections from Le Dialogue du Prédestiné et du Reprouvé.
Viney, Donald W. (1998). Questions of Value : Beginning Readings for Philosophy. Dubuque, Iowa : Kendall/Hunt Publishers : 181-188.
Contains Viney’s translation of “The Hornbeam Leaf.”
Viney, Donald W. (1998). Translation of Works of Jules Lequyer : The Hornbeam Leaf, The Dialogue of the Predestinate and the Reprobate, Eugene and Theophilus. Foreword by Robert Kane. Lewiston, New York : The Edwin Mellen Press.
The first widely available English language edition of these works. The translator’s introduction provides an orientation to Lequyer’s life and work and an analysis of the three works translated. The introduction is partially a reprint of “Jules Lequyer and the Openness of God” (Viney 1997). Reviewed by Anita Chancey in The Midwest Quarterly 40/4 (Summer 1999) : 515-517.
Viney, Donald W. (2004). “The Hornbeam Leaf” (with facing French text). Pittsburg, Kansas : Logos-Sophia Press.
Includes Viney’s translation of “The Hornbeam Leaf,” “A note on Lequyer’s Philosophy,” a Chronology of Jules Lequyer (which is an amplified version of the one found in Grenier’s edition of the Œuvres completes, p. xv), and a selected bibliography.
Viney, Donald W. and West, Mark (1999). Jules Lequyer’s “Abel and Abel” Followed by “Incidents in the Life and Death of Jules Lequyer.” Translation by Mark West ; Biography by Donald Wayne Viney. Foreword by William L. Reese. Lewiston, New York : The Edwin Mellen Press.
First English translation of Abel and Abel. This book is modeled on the edition of G. Pyguillem, Abel et Abel, suivi d’une “Notice Biographique de Jules Lequyer” par Prosper Hémon (1991). Viney’s “Incidents” draws principally on the works of Hémon, Renouvier, Dugas, Grenier, Huerre, Brimmer, Pyguillem, Houillon, Clair, and the dossier of Le Gal La Salle. This biography also traces Lequyer’s legacy in philosophy (from Renouvier to James to Hartshorne) and in literature in the works of Jean-Marie Turpin and Heather Dohollau. Reviewed by Carol Walker MacKay in The Midwest Quarterly 42/2 (Winter 2001) : 228-229.
Bars, Jean (1962). “Le 26 mai, centenaire de la mort de Jules Lequier philosophe breton méconnu (1814-1862).” [May 26th, centenary of the death of Jules Lequier, misunderstood Breton philosopher]. Journal de Saint-Brieuc, May 5, 1962.
Account of Lequyer’s life and work and an announcement of the celebration in Quintin and St.-Brieuc of the centenary of his death.
Birnbaum, Jean (2009). “Le berceau de la liberté” [The cradle of freedom] Le Monde Magazine, 10 Septembre 2009.
Reflection on the certitude of freedom in the experience of a child occasioned by the author’s reading of Comment trouver, comment chercher une première vérité, especially “La feuille charmille” (Allia edition).
Bois, H. (1911). “L’influence de Lequier sur Renouvier” [Lequier’s influence on Renouvier]. Recueil de l’Académie de Tarn et Garonne, Montauban : 95-106.
Bois supports Baptiste Jacob’s view that Renouvier owed to Lequyer a certain lively sense of the importance of freedom but that his system would have been stronger without the inordinate place Renouvier gave to free will as Lequyer conceived it. Bois says that Renouvier’s chief arguments for valuing freedom are, first, that determinism commits one to an actually infinite series of causes, which is absurd for it violates either the principle of contradiction or the principle of number, and, second, that our sense of obligation requires freedom to obey or disobey. Freedom presupposes faith in logic, reason, and obligation. Furthermore, belief in obligation is most fundamental since it requires faith in logic and reason but not vice versa. “Duty obliges me to believe in logic and reason” (98). Yet, Renouvier, following Lequyer’s double dilemma, argues that freedom is the foundation of knowledge and certitude. This is in tension with, if not in direct contradiction to, the idea that freedom requires faith in logic and reason. Bois examines Lequyer’s double dilemma and concludes that it is a “specious dilemma” (103) primarily because Lequyer’s arguments that determinism undermines knowledge are unconvincing. For this reason, Bois prefers the “uniquely renouvierist Renouvier” (106).
Bréhier, Émile. (1968). Histoire de la Philosophie, Tome II. La Philosophie Moderne, 4. Le XIXe siècle après 1850-Le XXe siècle. Cinquième édition revue et bibliographie mise à jour par Lucien Jerphagnon et Pierre-Maxime Schuhl. Paris : Presses Universitaires de France (Originally published in 1932) : 839-842. Translated as Contemporary Philosophy Since 1850, History of Philosophy, Volume VII. Translated by Wade Baskin. University of Chicago Press, 1969 : 59-62.
One of the very few historians of philosophy to take note of Lequyer’s work. Bréhier concludes his brief summary with these words : “Freedom, in Lequier… leaves us then in a profound ignorance of ourselves and of our destiny” (842).
Brimmer, Harvey H. (1967). “Lequier (Joseph Louis) Jules.” The Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by Paul Edwards. Volume 4 : 438-439. New York : Macmillan.
A summary of the main themes of Lequyer’s philosophy.
Brimmer, Harvey H. (1975). Jules Lequier and Process Philosophy (Doctoral Dissertation, Emory University), Dissertation Abstracts International, 36, 2892A.
Lequyer is a forerunner of the kind of process philosophy and theology one finds in the works of A. N. Whitehead and C. Hartshorne. This dissertation was written under the direction of Charles Hartshorne.
Brunschvicg, Léon (1920). “L’orientation du rationalism” [The Orientation of rationalism]. Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale, v. 27 : 261-343.
Lequyer conflated the distinction between necessity as it applies to events and necessity as it applies to judgments and, in so doing, “the rational autonomy of Socrates was sacrificed to the cosmic indeterminism of Epicurus” (p. 289).
Callot, Émile. (1962). Propos sur Jules Lequier Philosophe de la Liberté Reflexions sur sa Vie et sur sa Pensée. [Remarks on Jules Lequier, Philosopher of Freedom, Reflections on his Life and his Thought]. Paris : Éditions Marcel Rivière et Cie.
Emphasizing the fragmentary character of Lequyer’s literary remains and the need for a critical edition of his works (which was begun but not finished by Dugas and Grenier), Callot offers “remarks” mostly on Lequyer’s thoughts on the meaning of freedom and its philosophical and theological implications.
Castre, Victor (1950). “Jules Lequier.” Empédocle : Revue Littéraire Mensuelle, numéro 10 : 70-73.
Castre, a student of Louis Prat, maintains that Lequyer was what Kierkegaard called “a subjective thinker,” someone for whom life and thought are not separate. The reason for Lequyer’s obscurity is that the nineteenth century, in contrast to this passionate thinking, saw the flowering of a type of philosophy that “led an existence of sleep-walking in the frozen night of concepts.” Lequyer’s reflections on free will and determinism “light up our actual universe as lightning does a stormy sky; drawing, in strokes of fire, the contradictions which tear it apart.”
Citot, Vincent (2009). La Condition philosophique et le problème du commencement : parcours thématique et historique des gestes fondateurs par lesquels les philosophes ont défini la nature de la pensée et sa vocation [The Philosophical condition and the problem of beginning : thematic and historical development of the founding movements by which philosophers have defined the nature of thought and its vocation], Collection Phéno, (Argenteuil: Le Cercle Herméneutique).
“The philosophical condition” mentioned in the title refers to “the collection of conditions that make philosophical thought possible” (15-16). The primary condition making philosophical thought possible is that the individual begins to think. Citot proposes a three-fold “typology of beginnings” (13): one may begin from truth as one’s foundation and erect a system of philosophy, be it idealist or materialist—this type of beginning is called dogmatic or realistic; one may begin from the false, or at least by doubting all that seems to be true, and seek certainty—this type of beginning is called skeptical or phenomenalist; finally, one may begin by questioning the sense of the world for us and of our relation to it—this type of beginning, which Citot advocates as best suited to philosophy in its etymological sense as “love of wisdom,” is called interrogative or reflexive. Citot canvasses various philosophers in a “sometimes very rapid treatment” (14)—that is to say, often with little more than a paragraph—for how they illustrate the elements of the typology. Although philosophy tends to solidify into dogmatism or to fragment into skepticism, wisdom is ever possible: “Like a sea shell held to the ear, this beautiful word of philosophy can still sing something to us if one pays attentions to it” (7). Citot maintains that the strain of reflexive thinking reached fruition only in nineteenth century French philosophy, with Lequyer holding pride of place as its first representative (163). Citot alludes to “The Hornbeam Leaf” and remarks, “It is in a breathtaking style, rarely equaled, never surpassed, that [Lequyer] goes about The Search for a First Truth” (132). It is fitting that Citot’s own beginning sounds like an echo of Lequyer, “What is susceptible of beginning is not what one inherits, it is what one creates. The creator alone is ‘one who begins’. In creating, he creates himself, that is to say, he ‘recommences himself’” (1).
Clair, André (1997). “Lequier et les documents de la bibliothèque de Renvouvier". Archives de Philosophie, 60/1.
Clair, André (2000). Métaphysique et existence : essai sur la philosophie de Jules Lequier. Bibliothèque d’histoire de la philosophie, Nouvelle série. Paris : J. Vrin.
This is a major contribution to Lequyer scholarship that rivals the works of Renouvier, Grenier, and Wahl. Clair gives more prominence to Abel and Abel than previous commentators. According to Clair, the Dialogue of the Predestinate and the Reprobate raises questions about free will and divine sovereignty in a reflexive and dialectical style, but ends with a theoretical impasse (an aporie). The story of the twin brothers Abel and Abel is written in an existential and theological style; it resolves the impasse of the dialogue through the idea of love as union. The absolute freedom of aseity, conceived as the power to arbitrarily choose, that figures in the dialogue is understood in the story of the Abel twins as a freedom of responsibility that is exercised only relative to another—to the Father of the twins who sets the conditions of their “test” and of each of the boys to his brother. Clair says that the dialogue and the story of the twins “form a diptych,” wherein the former fails and the later succeeds in resolving the conflict between freedom and necessity (41). Reviewed by V. Delecroix in Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale (2001) 1, n. 29, 120-122.
Clair, André (2008). Kierkegaard et Lequier, lectures croisées. Paris : Cerf.
Reviewed by Goulven Le Brech in Le Grognard, n. 8 (Décembre 2008), pp. 32-33.
Cooper, John W. (2006). Panentheism, The Other God of the Philosophers : From Plato to the Present. Grand Rapids, Michigan : Baker Academic.
Lequyer is situated as a forerunner of panentheism, although Cooper notes that the case isn’t entirely clear since Lequyer never clarifies how the creatures are “in” God except to say that human free acts “make a spot in the absolute that destroys the absolute.” (141-143).
Deslandes, Ghislain (1998-99). Kierkegaard, Pascal, Lequier : Convergences de trois chrétiens philosophes. Thèse de Doctorat : Université de Paris I, Panthéon-Sorbonne.
Deslandes, Ghislain (2002). “‘L’amitié stellaire’ de trois chrétiens philosophes, Kierkegaard, Pascal, Lequier,” Etudes, Juillet-Août: 53-62.
Available on-line at :
Dobrenn, Marguerite, Editor (1981). Correspondance : Albert Camus-Jean Grenier 1932-1960. Paris : Gallimard.
These letters, written while Grenier was doing most of his work on Lequyer, make surprisingly little mention of the Breton (cf. pages 26, 61, 64, 114, 168, 170), although Camus reflects on the letters between Lequyer and his childhood sweetheart Nanine Deszille. “One draws from these letters the impression that exceptional destinies have their pathetic aspect” (p. 66).
Dohollau, Heather (1982). La Réponse. [The Response]. Éditions Folle Avoine.
Dohollau, a poet living in Bretagne, captures in moving but unsentimental prose the desperation of Lequyer’s final hours. The three-fold significance of the title concerns three questions: How Clair (a.k.a. Anne Deszille) will respond to Lequyer’s proposal ? ; How God will respond to Lequyer’s desperate act of swimming into the bay ? ; How Lequyer’s friends will respond to his death ?
Dugas, Ludovic (1914). “La ‘feuille de charmille’ de Jules Léquyer (texte, variantes et comentaire).” [The ‘Hornbeam Leaf’ of Jules Léquyer (text, variations and commentary)]. Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale, v. 22, n. 2 (Mars) : 153-173.
A comparative genetic study of variations in the extant manuscripts of “The Hornbeam Leaf.” Lequyer’s final version is a triumphal hymn to freedom whereas earlier versions put more emphasis on the horror of necessity. An important change was to make the bird’s fatal flight the result of the child’s voluntary act rather than the result of the fortuitous movement of a frail branch. Lequyer shows himself in this meditation to be both a poet and a philosopher.
Dugas, Ludovic (1920). “Un philosophe français, Jules Lequyer” [A French philosopher, Jules Lequyer]. Revue Bleue (4 septembre).
Erickson, Millard J. (2003). What Does God Know and When Does He Know It ? The Current Controversy Over Divine Foreknowledge. Grand Rapids, Michigan : Zondervan.
Erickson treats Lequyer as a forerunner of “openness of God theology”, although no attempt is made to analyze Lequyer’s arguments and Lequyer’s death is incorrectly reported as 1854 (pp. 116-118).
Friedler, J. (1975). “Jules Lequier ou la question du savoir divin” [Jules Lequier or the question of divine knowledge]. Annales de l’Institut de Philosophie. Bruxelles.
Garfitt, J. S. T. (1983). The Work and Thought of Jean Grenier (1898-1971). Texts and Dissertations, volume 20. London : Modern Humanities Research Association.
This book contains numerous passing references to Lequyer’s ideas as they are relevant to Grenier’s work. The first chapter, “Philosophical Initiation: Renouvier and Lequier” explains how Grenier came to his studies of Lequyer. Raised in Saint-Brieuc, he knew of Lequyer’s grave ; through his work on the problem of evil in Renouvier he learned of Lequyer’s writings ; finally, Dugas’ 1924 edition of La Recherche d’une Première Vérité aroused his interest further. (Garfitt writes in English but does not translate the numerous quotations from French sources that pepper the text).
Garrigou-Lagrange, P. Fr. R. (1923). Dieu, Son Existence et Sa Nature [God, his Existence and Nature]. 4eme edition (originally published 1915). Paris : Gabriel Beauchesne: IIe partie, ch. IV : 590-604.
Intellectualism and voluntarism represent two extremes in the analysis of divine and human freedom that Catholicism rejected. Leibniz’s psychological determinism is an unsuccessful attempt to solve the problem from the side of intellectualism. Lequyer and Charles Secrétan opt for an extreme voluntarism wherein eternal verities depend upon God’s will (following Descartes) and divine prescience is sacrificed to human freedom. Lequyer’s “dilemma” is briefly discussed. “We do not believe,” says Garrigou-Lagrange, “that the problem of free will has made a lot of progress in modern times” (601). The basic answers to the puzzle of free will are to be found in Aristotle and Aquinas.
Guilloux, Louis (1935). Le Sang noir. Paris : Éditions Gallimard.
A novel whose title could be translated “Bitter Victory” (literally Black Blood). The main character, Cripure, is an aging scholar who in his youth wrote a dissertation on Turnier (a.k.a. Lequyer) to regain the affection of Toinette, a prostitute who was the mother of his son.
Grenier, Jean (1924). “Un philosophe Breton: Jules Lequier.” [A Breton philosopher : Jules Lequier]. La Bretagne touristique, n. 31 (15 Octobre) : 226-227.
Grenier’s first published work on Lequyer. The author provides a brief summary of the life and thought of Lequyer. Of historical interest is an account of a meeting of La Société d’Emulation des Côtes-du-Nord in 1866. A proposal was made to republish Renouvier’s edition of Lequyer’s work. A certain Abbot Robert, philosophy teacher at the St.-Brieuc high school, was appointed to the commission to investigate the idea. Robert denounced Lequyer as a heretic and a fool and, while not all agreed with him, his objections prevented the republication of Lequyer’s work by the society. The article includes photographs of Lequyer’s house, the statue over his tomb, and location of where his body was found on the beach.
Grenier, Jean (1936). La Philosophie de Jules Lequier. [The Philosophy of Jules Lequier]. Paris : Presses Universitaires de France.
This is Grenier’s doctoral thesis and it remains the standard account of Lequyer’s philosophy. Grenier’s stated purpose is to question Renouvier’s “obviously tendentious” interpretation and to restore Lequyer’s thought as a whole (p. 9). Grenier includes valuable documents pertaining to the controversy that raged in the local newspapers for a month after Lequyer’s death over the issue of whether the philosopher committed suicide. Also included is an index of authors cited by Lequyer. Contains the same photographs as in Grenier’s 1924 article in La Bretagne Touristique. This book was republished in 1983 by Calligrammes, with the same pagination, but without pages 251-343, that is to say, without the supporting documenation on Lequyer’s life and thought (which includes the material on Lequyer’s death) and the index of authors cited by Lequyer.
Grenier, Jean (1951). “Un grand philosophe inconnu et méconnu: Jules Lequier” [A great philosopher unknown and unrecognized]. Rencontre, no ll. Lausanne (novembre) : 31-39.
Grenier focuses on Lequyer’s biography and notes the paucity of evidence for following his footsteps, as though the philosopher were constantly on tip toe. Lequyer was an “obscure among the obscure” (p. 32). To make matters more difficult, he is something of an απαξ (hapax)—one of a kind. His philosophy does not readily fit any classification or historical development of ideas. Grenier wryly comments on those eager to classify philosophical schools and movements: “Meteors do not have a right to exist because they enter under no nomenclature” (p. 33). Of special interest is that Grenier reports the professional opinion of Dr. Yves Longuet, doctor at the psychiatric hospital of Nantes, written in November 1949. Dr. Longuet’s assessment is that Lequyer exhibited symptoms of paranoia with episodes of hallucinations and mystical ecstasy. Lequyer suffered a “clear cyclothemia” (i.e. manic-depressive personality). Grenier also cites the evidence for Lequyer’s Oedipal tendencies in which his love of his mother may have been transposed into his devotion to the Virgin Mary. Grenier distances himself from such speculation saying, “Psychoanalysis has the great weakness of explaining everything” (p. 37). Grenier says that Lequyer’s love for Anne Deszilles was less like the love of Dante for Beatrice than it was like the love of Don Quixote for Dulcinea. Grenier closes the article with the three hypotheses about Lequyer’s death by drowning, as accidental, as voluntary, and as an appeal to God to save his genius. The final hypothesis brings together the two keys to Lequyer’s thought: “Freedom of man, freedom of God, the latter not bothering the former, the former braced on the latter” (p. 39).
Grenier, Jean (1952). “Jules Lequier, philosophe et théologien de la liberté” [Jules Lequier, philosopher and theologian of freedom]. Revue de Théologie et de Philosophie. Lausanne, no I.
Hartshorne, Charles (1984). Creativity in American Philosophy. Albany : State University of New York Press.
In a long endnote to his chapter on William James (p. 60), Hartshorne discusses the reasons for the relative neglect of Lequyer’s writings. In addition, Hartshorne outlines Lequyer’s “double dilemma” of freedom and necessity, the uselessness pragmatically speaking of the idea that all truth is timeless, and the fact that God’s “knowing all truth” is compatible with God’s “acquiring new truths” as new realities come into being. (For more on Hartshorne’s views on Lequyer, see Viney 2001).
Hengelbrook, Jörgen (1968). “Cogito, Ergo Sum Liber: Un essai sur Jules Lequier.” [I Think Therefore I am Free : An Essay on Jules Lequier]. Archives de Philosophie 31 (Julliet-Septembre) : 434-455.
Hengelbrook criticizes the ways in which other scholars have approached Lequyer’s work—Grenier’s examination of philosophic sources, Wahl’s comparisons with existentialism, Tilliette’s biographical approach—and argues for a more systematic understanding of the incomplete writings that Lequyer left behind. Lequyer’s “great idea” is that certitude is created by a voluntary creative act of the self that affirms its own freedom.
Houillon, Paul (1991). “Le Plus Grand Philosophe Français du XIXe Siècle, Est-Il Breton . . . et Quintinais ?” [The Greatest French Philosopher of the 19th Century, Was He Breton . . . and from Quintin ?]. Le Quintinais, Numéro Spécial, Noël : 10-11.
Raises the question whether it is unreasonable to suppose that Lequyer, a native of Bretagne and the little town of Quintin, was the greatest of nineteenth century French philosophers. Includes a drawing by André Bluteau of Lequyer’s face based on the statue over the philosopher’s grave.
Houillon, Paul (1999). “Jules Lequyer, un Quintinais trop méconnu.” [Jules Lequyer, a Quintinian too much unrecognized]. Société d’Émulation des Côtes d’Armor. Tome CXXVIII : 3-45.
A wide ranging and informative essay on the life and thought of Lequyer that includes discussions of the works of Grenier, Callot, and Tillette and reflections on Lequyer’s contemporary relevance.
Huerre, Lt. Colonel (1963). “J. Léquyer, dernières recherches sur sa vie et ses relations” [J. Léquyer, final researches on his life and his relations]. Société d’Emulation des Côtes-du-Nords, Tome XCI, St. Brieuc : 103-117.
Contains a number of important details concerning Lequyer’s relations to Marianne (his housekeeper), to Anne Deszille (the woman he loved from childhood), to Le Gal la Salle (a friend from whom he became estranged), and concerning his financial situation.
Jacob, Baptiste (1905). “Jules Lequier.” Bulletin de l’Association des élèves de Sèvres. (Julliet).
Jacob highlights the essentially religious motivation behind Lequyer’s work. “In [Lequyer’s] eyes, philosophy had but one goal, which was to justify Catholicism.” Jacob holds that Renouvier had an inexact idea of Lequyer’s intellectual development, for he believed that Lequyer had formulated his philosophy before he tried, in his last years, to reconcile it with the Catholic faith. As evidence against Renouvier, Jacob cites the sketch of Lequyer’s system contained in the notebook that was completed in 1846 [probably Cahier H]. Jacob closes with an account of Lequyer’s direct influence on Renouvier and of his indirect influence, through Renouvier, on nineteenth century philosophy.
Jacob, Baptiste (1911). Lettres d’un philosophe [Letters of a philosopher], précédées de Souvenirs [Memories] par C. Bouglé. Paris.
James, Henry, Editor (1920). The Letters of William James, in two volumes. Boston : Atlantic Monthly.
In April 1870 James read Renouvier’s second Essais (see Renouvier 1912) at a crisis point in his life. After reading those portions of the Essais that reprint Lequyer’s writings James resolved, “My first act of free will shall be to believe in free will” (p. 147). In his letter to Charles Revouvier on Nov. 2, 1872 (v. I, p. 163) James requested a copy of Renouvier’s edition of Lequyer’s writings. Renouvier sent the book, which James read and then donated to the Harvard library.
James, William (1981). The Principles of Psychology, (Volumes I and II). F. Burkhardt and F. Bowers (Editors). Cambridge Massachusetts : Harvard University Press.
James quotes Lequyer and calls him a “French philosopher of genius,” but does not mention him by name (v. II, p. 1176). The quote is, “l’amour de la vie qui s’indigne de tant de discours” [the love of life that is indignant of so much discourse] and is found in Grenier’s edition of Œuvres complètes, p. 69.
Josse, Jacques (2001). Jules Lequier et la Bretagne. [Jules Lequier and Brittany]. Collection Bretagne, terre écrit. Möelan-sur-Mer : Editions Blanc Silex.
Forty-one page meditation on the relation of Lequyer to his native Brittany. According to Josse, Lequyer “carried in himself a philosophy weighed down by a dreadful Christian blackness to which Brittany was doubtless no stranger.” This little volume is part of a series of essays on Breton authors, including, among others, André Breton, Chauteaubriand, Jean Grenier, and Louis Guilloux.
Kane, Robert (1998). Foreword to Translation of Works of Jules Lequyer. Edited by Donald W. Viney. Lewiston, NY : Edwin Mellen Press : xi-xiv.
Lequyer’s work can be mined for its relevance to the existentialism of Camus and Sartre. Lequyer and Kierkegaard “represent the possible options open to those who would reject classical theology without rejecting religious faith altogether.” Lequyer is an early contributor to what has come to be called the theology of the “openness of God.” Lequyer also developed a concept of free will as self-creation that remains important today—Kane sees Lequyer as a precursor of the type of free will that he defends in The Significance of Free Will (1996).
Kane, Robert (1999). “Lequier, Jules.” Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, second edition. Edited by Robert Audi. London : Cambridge University Press : 495.
Brief notice of Lequyer linking him to James through Renouvier. Lequyer “anticipates in striking ways some views of James, Bergson, Alexander, and Peirce, and the process philosophies and process theologies of Whitehead and Hartshorne.”
Lacroix, Jean (1962). “L’actualité de Lequier.” [Topicality of Lequier]. Le Monde (20-21 Mai).
A remarkably succinct and elegant statement of Lequyer’s philosophy and its relevance to the contemporary philosophy of the time.
Lazareff, A. (1938). “L’Entreprise philosophique de Jules Lequier.” [The Philosophical Enterprise of Jules Lequier]. Revue Philosophique de la France et de L’Étranger 9 et 10 (Septembre-Octobre) : 161-182. Reprinted in Lazareff’s Vie et Connaissance : Essais, [Life and Knowledge: Essays]. traduits du Russe par B. de Schloezer. Paris : J. Vrin, 1948.
The philosophical enterprise of Lequyer, like that of Kierkegaard, was to look for “an existential philosophy.” Lequyer was willing to sacrifice reason in the name of freedom. Lazareff provides an interesting twist on Lequyer’s death: by throwing himself into the waves of the bay Lequyer was not so much tempting God as issuing a terrible challenge to Necessity.
Le Brech, Goulven. (1998-1999). Jules Lequier et l’énigme de FAIRE [Jules Lequier and the enigma of MAKING]. Mémoire de Maîtrise ; directeur de mémoire : André Clair. Université de Rennes 1.
Le Brech, Goulven. (2007). “Jules Lequier, Zoom sur le livre de Goulven Le Brech.” Enretien avec Goulven le Brech. Le Grognard, Décembre : 3-8.
Interview with Goulven le Brech conducted by Stéphane Beau concerning the publication of Le Brech’s biography, Jules Lequier (2007). The interview is followed by Lequyer’s “La feuille charmille,” pp. 8-11.
Le Brech, Goulven. (2007). “Jules Lequier et la poésie.” Hopala ! La Bretagne au monde, numéro 27 (Novembre) : 55-59.
Lequyer held that science and poetry have a common origin in human freedom. Human intelligence gives birth within itself to mental representations that present themselves, by turns, as copies of relations among external phenomena and as models of beauty. Guided by the search for truth, science seeks ordered and necessary relations among phenomena ; guided by the ideal of beauty, poetry seeks to elevate the real to the possible by means of creative imagination. Lequyer’s originality resides in seeing that science and poetry come together in the idea of the beautiful, which is “the exemplar of order.” In his prose, Lequyer strove for a rational account of freedom that embodied the highest aesthetic form. Many commentators appreciate Lequyer’s achievement, especially in his works, “The Hornbeam Leaf,” Abel and Abel, and “The Last Page.”
Le Brech, Goulven. (2008). « Jules Lequier », Anamnèse, petite anthologie des auteurs oubliés, vol. 2, IMEC.
Available on-line :
Le Brech, Goulven. (2010). “Le songe chez Lequier” [The dream in Lequier]. In Oniromancies, by Goulven Le Brech, Collection: “Les A-côtés du GROGNARD” (Association LE GROGNARD), pp. 43-47.
The theme of dreaming plays important and diverse roles in the life and thought of Lequier. In “The Hornbeam Leaf” the child dispels a nightmarish vision of necessity by affirming his own freedom. In The Problem of Knowledge, to which “The Hornbeam Leaf” was to be the introduction, Lequier reminds his readers of the Cartesian idea of dreaming as a skeptical argument against the reliability of the five senses. More importantly, Lequier rejects the idea of voluntarily living in a kind of dream state to avoid facing the problem of freedom and necessity—this fantasy does not guarantee truth. The Dialogue of the Predestinate and the Reprobate takes place in a shared dream of two clerics concerning the fate that awaits each of them according to divine foreknowledge. According to Le Brech, this dream is willed by Satan. In Abel and Abel, there is also a common dream, shared by the twins (both named Abel), although in this case the dream has a quality of foretelling the future—“oniromancie,” in the title of Le Brech’s book refers to divination through dreams. In the fourth chapter of Abel and Abel Lequier says that God sometimes secretly instructs us in dreams (cf. Job, chapter 33). Indeed, a month before his death, Lequier related in a letter to his friend and cleric, Louis Épivent, that God counseled him in a dream to see him in order to pour out his personal sufferings. Unhappily, the meeting never occurred and Lequier drowned in the Bay of St. Brieuc.
Le Gal La Salle, Mathurin. (1893). La crise : une page de ma vie [Crisis : a page of my life]. Saint-Brieuc, Fr. Guyon.
Grenier published brief extracts of this book in the appendix of La Philosophie de Jules LequierThe Crisis (1936), pp. 315-318. According to Grenier, “Le Gal La Salle [1814-1904] in a little book published without the name of the author and not put up for sale, appeared in 1893, under the name of Michel Abrall goes to Paris to create a diversion for an unhappy love and to ask advice from his old friends. It traces the portrait of young Lequier, such as it would have been at Saint-Brieuc and at Paris before he undertook his great work. This testimony helps to represent Lequier as he was at the moment when he began to meditate on his work” (p. 315). See also Grenier’s edition of Œuvres complètes, p. 495.
Lefranc, Jean (1998). La philosophie en France au XIXe siècle. Paris: Presses universitaires de France, collection "Que sais-je ?", pp. 93-94.
The "Que sais je?" [What do I know?] collection provides brief introductions written by specialists for nonspecialists, touching on a variety of topics. Limitations of space permit Le Franc to devote only a succinct paragraph to Lequyer intercalated between notices of the ideas of the Swiss philosopher Charles Secrétan and of Lequyer’s friend Charles Renouvier.
Le Savoureux, Robert (1912). “L’entreprise philosophique de Renouvier” [The philosophical enterprise of Renouvier]. Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale, v. 20: 653-681.
Le Savoureux endeavors to find continuity between the earlier and later works of Renouvier. Lequyer is mentioned in passing once and in a footnote on page 678. According to Le Savoureux, Renouvier’s turn to finitism was not solely the product of rational argument. He had a genuine horror of the infinite that was occasioned by being a witness to Lequyer’s mental crisis of 1851. Believing in an actual infinite would leave no guarantee that he would not succumb to the sort of mystical aberrations to which the religious are inclined.
Le Savoureux, Robert (1928). “La conversion de Renouvier au finitisme” [Renouvier’s conversion to finitism]. Revue d’Histoire de la Philosophie (avril et juillet).
Méry, Marcel (1957). Lequier et Renouvier devant le christianisme. [Lequier and Renouvier confronted with Christianity]. Annales de la Faculté des Lettres d’Aix, Tome, XXXI : 5-25.
In 1952 Méry published La Critique du christianisme chez Renouvier [The Critique of Christianity in Renouvier] without having the benefit of Grenier’s edition of Lequyer’s Œuvres complètes published in the same year. This article essentially adds a chapter to Méry’s book by tracing the convergence and divergence of the “disciple” (Renouvier) and the “master” (Lequyer) on the subject of Christianity. Lequyer’s emphasis on free will was definitely instrumental in Renouvier’s “conversion” to finitism in 1851, but he may also have viewed Lequyer’s attachment to the dogmas of the Catholicism as a contributing factor to his friend’s mental breakdown, which occurred in the same year. Renouvier’s objections to religious faith were driven more by his anti-clericism than by an antipathy for Christianity. He also agreed with the implication of Lequyer’s “Dialogue of the Predestinate and the Reprobate” that the Church’s teaching on God’s power and knowledge is a “nightmare.” On the other hand, he remained friendly to Lequyer’s notion of a revival of true Christianity through philosophy. In Méry’s words, “Just as it was for Lequier, it is Christian passion for the Truth that, in the final analysis, inspired his [Renouvier’s] research.”
Pillon, François (1904). “Le dilemme de Lequier” [Lequier’s dilemma]. Année philosophique.
Prat, Louis (1910). Contes pour les metaphysicians [Stories for metaphysicians]. Paris : Paulin.
Prat, Louis (2009). Contes pour les metaphysicians: Les Réalités—Les Vérités—Les Mystères [Stories for metaphysicians : Realities—Truths—Mysteries]. Texte établi et présenté par Goulven Le Brech. Nimes : Éditions Lacour.
Pyguillem, Gérard (1985). “Renouvier et sa publication des fragments posthumes de J. Lequier,” [Renouvier and the publication of the posthumous fragments of J. Lequier]. Archives de Philosophie, 48 : 653-668.
Details Renouvier’s plans to publish Lequyer’s writings and some of the objections of Lequyer’s friends, Paul Michelot and Charles Deville.
Renouvier, Charles (1886). Esquisse d’une Classification Systématique des Doctrines Philosophiques, [Sketch of a Systematic Classification of Philosophical Doctrines]. Two volumes. Paris : Bureau de la Critique Philosophique.
Pages 91-93 of volume II contain an extract from Lequyer’s writings concerning the idea that belief in freedom is affirmed by a free act.
Renouvier, Charles (1897). Philosophie Analytique de L’Historie, [Analytical Philosophy of History]. Four volumes. Paris : Ernest Leroux, Editeur.
Pages 428-431 of volume IV contains quotes from Lequyer’s writings and a brief discussion of Lequyer’s reasoning in Comment trouver, comment chercher une première vérité ? as to why the postulate of freedom is necessary to the search for a first truth and is indeed the truth sought.
Renouvier, Charles (1912). Traité de Psychologie Rationelle d’après les Principes du Criticisme. [Treatise of Rational Psychology According to the Principles of Criticism]. Two volumes. Paris : Librarie Armand Colin.
This book contains the lengthiest extracts from Lequyer’s writings that Renouvier included in his own books. This is the book that James was reading during his crisis of April 1870 (see James 1920). The material in volume I comprises the first two parts of Comment trouver, comment chercher une première vérité?, excluding the introduction (i.e. “La feuille de charmille”) (Œuvres, pp. 18-41). Renouvier prefaces the lengthy quotation by emphasizing that his admission of debt to Lequyer concerning the question of freedom is not to be understood as hyperbole. He also provides a sketch of Lequyer’s life and of his attitude towards Catholicism. Extracts in volume II include Lequyer’s discussion of the subject/object distinction (Œuvres, pp. 68-70), his analysis of the act of freedom, (Œuvres, pp. 42-57), his discussion of the power of the idea of necessity (Œuvres, pp. 58-63), “La feuille charmille” (Œuvres, pp. 13-17), and disordered fragments concerning Lequyer’s resolution of what Renouvier calls “Lequier’s dilemma”—that is, one must choose necessity necessarily, or choose necessity freely, or choose freedom necessarily, or choose freedom freely (Œuvres, pp. 65-71).
Renouvier, Charles (1930). Les Derniers Entretiens. [The Final Conversations]. Recueillis par Louis Prat. Paris : Librarie Philosophique.
Renouvier’s final reflections, dictated from his death bed. He continues to mention Lequyer as his “master” (p. 64).
Sartre, Jean-Paul (1944). “A propos de l’existentialisme : Mise au point” [Apropos Existentialism : Getting It Right] Action, numéro 17, 29 décembre, p. 11. Reprinted in Les écrits de Sartres [Writings of Sartres]. Etabli par Michel Contat et Mechel Rybalka. Paris, Gallimard, 1970.
Published after Being and Nothingness (1943) and before Existentialism is a Humanism (1945), Sartre responds to critics of existentialism who claim it is inspired by Nazism, that it preaches a philosophy of quietism and anguish, and that it delights in highlighting the wickedness of human beings rather than their finer sentiments. In response to the second criticism, Sartre outlines the main thesis of existentialism that “existence precedes essence,” that humans make themselves by the choices they make. He writes, “Today, French existentialism tends to align itself with the declaration of atheism, but this is not absolutely necessary. All I can say—and without wishing to insist too much on the resemblances—is that it is not far removed from the conception of man that one finds in Marx. Would not Marx accept, in effect, this motto of man which is our own : to make and in making to make oneself and to be nothing other than what he makes himself” (Les écrits de Sartre, p. 655). The phrase, “to make, and in making to make oneself” is from Lequyer (see above, Grenier’s edition of Lequyer’s Œuvres complètes, p. 71).
Sartre, Jean Paul (1989). “Mallarmé, 1842-1898” Préface de Stéphane Mallarmé, Poésies. Paris : Gallimard.
This introduction to the poetry of Mallarmé first appeared in 1952. As in his earlier defense of existentialism (see previous entry) Sartre quotes Lequyer’s motto, “To make, and in making, to make oneself.” Although he again does not refer to Lequyer by name, he places the motto between quotation marks, apparently acknowledging that he is quoting from another source.
Séailles, George (1898). “Un philosophe inconnu, Jules Lequier.” [An unknown philosopher, Jules Lequier]. Revue Philosophique de la France et de L’Etranger. Tome XLV : 120-150.
An excellent overview of the life and thought of “an unknown philosopher.”
Shields, George W. (1993). “Some Recent Philosophers and the Problem of Future Contingents.” The Midwest Quarterly, XXXIV, 3 (Spring) : 294-309.
One of the few recent English language treatments of the problem of human freedom and divine omniscience to acknowledge Lequyer’s contributions.
Sipfle, David A. (1968). “A Wager on Freedom.” International Philosophical Quarterly, 8 (June) : 200-211.
In the absence of compelling evidence whether freedom is real or unreal, it is reasonable to affirm freedom. The author argues that his wager escapes the familiar criticisms of Pascal’s wager. Sipfle finds the most striking precedent for his argument in the work of Lequyer.
Tilliette, Xavier (1964). Jules Lequier ou le tourment de la liberté. [Jules Lequier or the torment of freedom]. Paris : Desclée de Brouwer.
A balanced and appreciative overview of Lequyer’s life and thought. Tilliette maintains that Lequyer was even more of a theologian than he was a philosopher and that the “religious Lequier” (as found in Abel et Abel) takes precedence over “Lequier the Logician, the Rational” (as found in Le Dialogue du Prédestiné et du Reprouvé) (p. 66).
Tilliette, Xavier (1968). “Lequier et le Libre Arbitre.” [Lequier and Free Will]. Archives de Philosophie, 31 (Juillet-Septembre) : 456-458.
Tilliette, Xavier (1997). “Lequier Lecture de Fichte.” [Lequier Reading Fichte]. Fichte et la France : 183-199. Sous la direction de Ives Radrizzani, Tome I, Fichte et la philosophie française : nouvelles approaches. Paris : Beauchesne.
Lequyer’s understanding of Fichte was limited to his reading of The Vocation of Man. The difference between the philosophers is Fichte’s mysticism of the Logos and Lequyer’s mysticism of the suffering and crucified Christ.
Turpin, Jean-Marie (1975). “L’Homme Interieur : A Partir de la Problematique Kantienne.” [The Interior Man : Beginning with the Kantian Problematic]. Archives de Philosophie, 38 (Juillet-Septembre) : 414-430 and 38 (Octobre-Décembre) : 629-645 [in two parts].
Turpin, Jean-Marie (1977). “Jules Lequier : La Trame et la Plume, Essai sur l’Écriture du ‘Problème de la Science’,” [Jules Lequier : The Weft and the Pen, Essay on the Writing of “The Problem of Knowledge”]. Archives de Philosophie 40 (Octobre-Décembre) : 623-656.
Philosophical significance of Lequyer’s strange reflexive handwriting in The Problem of Science. Lequyer discovered that the act of writing is the “transcendental condition of the philosophical subject.” This would seem to make the act of writing impossible, since it presupposes the subject that it constitutes. Lequyer’s bizarre style of writing was his attempt to mimic this impossibility, “to produce before itself its own character as fiction.” Turpin also catalogues the writings in the Lequyer archives that are not in Grenier’s Œuvres complètes (p. 625).
Turpin, Jean-Marie (1978). Sol ou Jules Lequier. [Sol or Jules Lequier]. Paris : Éditions Libres-Hallier.
A postmodern novel inspired by Turpin’s meticulous research of the life and death of Lequyer. The author’s persona so identifies with Lequyer as to become his brother, like the twins Abel and Abel. However, the author’s persona itself is the expression of an ancient Egyptian scribe, Sol.
Viney, Donald W. (1987). “Faith as a Creative Act: Kierkegaard and Lequier on the Relation of Faith and Reason.” Faith & Creativity : Essays in Honor of Eugene H. Peters. Edited by George Nordgulen and George W. Shields. St. Louis, Missouri : CBP Press : 165-177.
Lequyer is sometimes called “the French Kierkegaard” because of the similarities of their life and thought, although they knew nothing of each other’s work. Both philosophers agreed that a passionate inwardness accompanies the act of faith. For Kierkegaard, faith requires risk based upon objective uncertainty—the greater the uncertainty, the greater the risk, and hence the greater the inward passion. For Lequyer, faith is a creative act with consequences that one can neither control nor foresee. Because the act is partly creative of self and others, one wills “only with audacity and passion.” Contrary to Kierkegaard, Lequyer argues that the future is open, even for God. Although this belief is objectively certain—on the hypothesis of creative freedom—it does not diminish the passionate inwardness of faith; on the contrary, it augments it.
Viney, Donald W. (1995). “On the trail of a French philosopher of genius : Jules Lequyer.” Pittsburg State University Magazine, 6, 1 (Winter) : 12-14.
A brief account of traveling to France on sabbatical leave in search of information on Lequyer. Photographs of Lequyer’s monument and his house and a pen and ink drawing by Michelle Bakay inspired by the monument are included. There is also an excerpt from the newspaper L’Ouest France concerning the visit.
Viney, Donald W. (1997). “William James on Free Will: The French Connection.” History of Philosophy Quarterly, 14/1 (October): 29-52. Also published as “William James on Free Will : The French Connection with Charles Renouvier” in The Reception of Pragmatism in France & the Rise of Roman Catholic Modernism, 1890-1914, edited by David G. Schultenover, S. J. (Washington, D. C. : The Catholic University of America Press, 2009) : 93-121.
Historians of philosophy have too readily accepted Ralph Barton Perry’s assessment that there is only an indirect influence of Lequyer upon James. Perry fails to take into account the fact that James read excerpts of Lequyer’s writings in Renouvier’s Deuxième Essai before he had read Renouvier’s edition of Lequyer’s La Recherche d’une Première Vérité. While it is true that James never mentions Lequyer in his published works by name, he quotes him three times, once without realizing it. James’ famous declaration that “My first act of free will shall be to believe in free will” was made under Lequyer’s influence. James continued to use and expand upon the basic ideas concerning free will that he first learned from Renouvier’s book, using Lequyer as a kind of palimpsest.
Viney, Donald W. (1997). “Jules Lequyer and the Openness of God.” Faith and Philosophy, 14/2 (April) : 1-24.
The main themes of Lequyer’s Dialogue of the Predestinate and the Reprobate are summarized and amplified to show their relevance for current debates about the openness of God. The dialogue is a literary and philosophical masterpiece in which the characteristic theses of “the open view of God” are developed: God creates other, lesser creators, whose decisions have an effect on God. Although Charles Hartshorne introduced Lequyer’s writings to an English speaking audience and saw anticipations of process theology in Lequyer’s work, the Frenchman may be closer in spirit to Evangelical thinkers because of his adherence to orthodox Catholicism.
Viney, Donald W. (1999). “The Nightmare of Necessity : Jules Lequyer’s Dialogue of the Predestinate and the Reprobate.” Journal of the Association of the Interdisciplinary Study of the Arts 5/1 (Autumn) : 17-30.
In his Dialogue of the Predestinate and the Reprobate, Lequyer finds that the twin doctrines taught by the church of God’s absolute foreknowledge and God’s providential control of events express a nightmarish philosophy of necessity. In the dialogue itself, only the figure of the reprobate finds the doctrines horrifying ; the predestinate, like Jonathan Edwards, takes delight in the thought of God’s all-arranging will. However, the reprobate’s stinging critiques of the predestinate’s arguments represent Lequyer’s dissatisfaction with the consolations of the theologians. Edwards himself found the doctrine of divine determinism “a horrible doctrine” before he was convinced of its reasonableness; Lequyer was convinced of its unreasonableness, and thus, found it nightmarish.
Viney, Donald W. (2000). “The Principle Points of Jules Lequyer.” Logos-Sophia, 10 (Spring) : 29-40.
A chronology of Lequyer’s life followed by five essential points of Lequyer’s philosophy : (1) Human freedom does not merely concern action according to the will as Augustine maintained ; (2) The free act is a creative act ; (3) Freedom has a dreadful aspect because of the unforeseen consequences of the free act ; (4) Belief in freedom is not coerced by empirical evidence ; (5) The theological implication of this idea of freedom is that the relation of the creature to God is as real as the relation of God to the creature, contrary to what Aquinas believed.
Viney, Donald W., editor (2001). Charles Hartshorne’s Letters to a Young Philosopher: 1979-1995. Logos-Sophia, volume 11 (Fall). Pittsburg, Kansas : Logos-Sophia Press.
In the letters between Viney and Hartshorne the name of Lequyer is mentioned often. Of special interest are the letters where Hartshorne outlines his knowledge of and estimation of Lequyer. See letters of May 21, 1986, p. 29; July 9, 1988, pp. 33-34; April 8, 1991, pp. 41-42; April 25, 1991, pp. 43-44. Jean Wahl arranged for Hartshorne to present two lectures in Paris in 1948. It was at that time, from Wahl, that he learned of Lequyer. Harvey Brimmer, Hartshorne’s student at Emory University, wrote a dissertation on Lequyer and translated some of his work (see TRANSLATIONS, Brimmer 1974 and Brimmer 1975). Hartshorne’s views about the asymmetry of past and future, freedom, and divine knowledge were formed before he knew of Lequyer. He says, “If [Lequyer] influenced me appreciably it was in what he said about God as the one who has ‘created me creator of myself,’ thus closely anticipating Whitehead’s ‘self-created creatures’.” (p. 33). (See also Hartshorne 1984).
Vinson, Alain (1992). “L’Idée d’éternité chez Jules Lequier.” [The Idea of Eternity According to Jules Lequier]. Les Études Philosophique, numéro 2 (Avril-Juin) (Philosophie française) : 179-193.
An expert and historically informed discussion of Lequyer’s preoccupation with the question of the relation of time to eternity. Against the weight of Thomism, Lequyer affirmed that the relation of the creatures to God is as real as the relation of God to the creatures. According to Vinson, Lequyer’s originality was to develop the idea that the creatures are really present to God (in agreement with Aquinas, but contrary to Duns Scotus) in an eternity qualified by duration (in agreement with Duns Scotus, but contrary to Aquinas). For Lequyer, the eternity of God endures but without the succession characteristic of temporal changes. Vinson argues, contrary to Lequyer, that duration without succession is as impossible as eternal life without duration. Vinson also speculates that Lequyer’s inability to resolve this conundrum contributed to his death.
Wahl, Jean, Editor. (1948). Jules Lequier. Les Classiques de la Liberté. Genève et Paris : Editions des Trois Collines.
A selection of Lequyer’s writings on freedom with a 117 page introduction by the editor. Wahl stresses the parallels between existentialism and Lequyer. It was Wahl who, in 1948, introduced Hartshorne to Lequyer’s ideas (see Hartshorne and Reese, 1953).
Wahl, Jean (1952). “Réflexions sur la philosophie de Jules Lequier.” [Reflections on the Philosophy of Jules Lequier]. Deucalion, vol. 4 : Le Diurne et le Nocturne. Neuchâtel: Suisse: Editions de la Baconnière : 81-126.
Wahl’s extended commentary on the fragments of Lequyer’s writings published in 1936 as La Liberté, by Grenier could serve as an introduction to Lequyer’s philosophy. (The fragments were republished in 1952 as the second part of Grenier’s edition of Lequyer’s Œuvres completes, pp. 313-459.) Liberally peppered with quotations, Wahl canvasses the major themes of Lequyer’s philosophy of freedom and creativity as it pertains to the divine and the human, noting along the way its unresolved problems and its points of contact with Lequyer’s contemporaries and with subsequent philosophies. The final six pages touch on Lequyer’s thoughts on the problem of evil, the logic of the incarnation of God in Christ, the possibility of universal salvation, and the redemption of the damned by the blessed.
Wahl, Jean (1967). Études Kierkegaardiennes. [Kierkegaardian Studies]. Third edition. Paris : Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin : 430-432.
In this three page footnote, Wahl outlines six “curious analogies,” supported by copious quotations from Lequyer’s writings, between the philosophies of Kierkegaard and Lequyer. Wahl’s comparisons should be read in concert with Grenier’s remarks on the “numerous differences” between Kierkegaard and Lequyer (cf. Lequier 1952, pp. ix-xi).