Théodore Simon Jouffroy
Philosopher, Deceased Person
1796 – 1842
Who was Théodore Simon Jouffroy?
He was born at Les Pontets, Franche-Comté, département of Doubs. In his tenth year, his father, a tax-gatherer, sent him to an uncle at Pontarlier, under whom he began his classical studies. At Dijon his compositions attracted the attention of an inspector, who had him placed in the normal school, Paris. There he came under the influence of Victor Cousin, and in 1817 he was appointed assistant professor of philosophy at the normal and Bourbon schools.
Three years later, being thrown upon his own resources, he began a course of lectures in his own house, and formed literary connexions with Le Courrier français, Le Globe, L'Encyclopédie moderne, and La Revue européenne. The variety of his pursuits at this time carried him over the whole field of ancient and modern literature. But he was chiefly attracted to the philosophical system represented by Thomas Reid and Dugald Stewart. The application of "common sense" to the problem of substance supplied a more satisfactory analytic for him than the scepticism of David Hume which reached him through a study of Kant.
He thus threw in his lot with the Scottish philosophy, and his first dissertations are adaptations from Reid's Inquiry. In 1826 he wrote a preface to a translation of Stewart's Moral Philosophy, demonstrating the possibility of a scientific statement of the laws of consciousness; in 1828 he began a translation of the works of Reid, and in his preface estimated the influence of Scottish criticism upon philosophy, giving a biographical account of the movement from Francis Hutcheson onwards. In the following year he was returned to parlement by the arrondissement of Pontarlier; but the work of legislation was ill-suited to him. Yet he attended to his duties conscientiously, and ultimately broke his health in their discharge. In 1833 he was appointed professor of Greek and Roman philosophy at the college of France and a member of the Academy of Sciences; he then published the Mélanges philosophiques, a collection of fugitive papers in criticism and philosophy and history. In them is foreshadowed all that he afterwards worked out in metaphysics, psychology, ethics and aesthetics.
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