His lectures there were the basis of several of his books, notably those on Jacobi and Auguste Comte His lasting contributions, however, are his book Ethics and Moral Science and especially the six volumes he devoted to the study of what he called the primitive mentality. His stress on the role of the emotions in psychic life may have derived from his studies of Jacobi. But he was not indifferent to criticisms made of his theories, especially the objections of such sociologists as Durkheim and Mauss or of an anthropologist like Evans-Pritchard. His responsiveness to these criticisms caused changes in the orientation of his thought. Three major stages may be distinguished in his intellectual development: the first was marked by his work on morality; the second by his theories on the primitive mentality; and the third by the revisions and changes that he himself made in these latter theories.
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His lectures there were the basis of several of his books, notably those on Jacobi and Auguste Comte His lasting contributions, however, are his book Ethics and Moral Science and especially the six volumes he devoted to the study of what he called the primitive mentality. His stress on the role of the emotions in psychic life may have derived from his studies of Jacobi.
But he was not indifferent to criticisms made of his theories, especially the objections of such sociologists as Durkheim and Mauss or of an anthropologist like Evans-Pritchard. His responsiveness to these criticisms caused changes in the orientation of his thought.
Three major stages may be distinguished in his intellectual development: the first was marked by his work on morality; the second by his theories on the primitive mentality; and the third by the revisions and changes that he himself made in these latter theories. Moral philosophy. They suffer also from the fact that they fail to take into account the variation of human nature in various civilizations. On the basis of such scientific knowledge, a rational art and rules of conduct may be set up that will be valid solely in a specified sociological situation rather than claiming the universal validity of the theoretical moralities.
The theory of the primitive mentality. The surest way to prove this, he believed, was to begin by comparing the mentality of civilized man with the mentality furthest removed from it. He therefore studied the mental functions in so-called primitives, collecting and classifying a large number of documents on this subject. His first conclusion was that the mentality of primitives and that of people living in modern Occidental civilization differ not in nuance or degree but rather in kind.
The anthropologists of the English animist school had believed that primitive peoples think or reason in the same way as civilized ones, although they may reason from mistaken premises. What makes for these differences is not the thought of the individual but collective representations. Ideally, the social scientist would establish the particular collective psychology of each society. When Evans-Pritchard reproached him with taking his examples from the books of travelers or missionaries, whose observations had not been made in conformity with the best ethnographical methods, he replied that it sufficed for him if the mentality of the peoples studied had been well understood.
The collective representations of primitives, he asserted, are essentially mystical, since they imply belief in forces or influences that are imperceptible to the senses. Mysticism pervades all their perceptions. Further, the primitive mentality is not governed exclusively by our laws of logic.
Although it is not generally opposed to these laws, it does not shrink from violating especially the law against contradiction. According to this principle, a being or object can be both itself and at the same time something else.
Participation cannot be explained by animism. He showed the effects of this mentality on the language of primitive peoples and on their way of conceiving the world. He thus seems to have placed his dualism in an evolutionist perspective.
But he took care to state that the mystical and prelogical mentality is never completely supplanted by the undisputed reign of logic. He held that in every human mind there is always some rational thought and some mystical thought. Reason alone cannot completely satisfy man. For him there are not two mentalities that exclude one another; prelogical thought is not a stage antedating logical thought.
And the phenomenologist Van der Leeuw interpreted it as postulating the mystical mentality and the logical mentality as two permanent structures of the human mind.
In primitive man, the first dominates the second; in civilized man, it is the contrary. Revisions in the theory. Many further criticisms appeared in —, in particular those of Larguier des Bancels, Raoul Allier, and Olivier Leroy.
As a result between and he published three further books on the same subject He now became more demanding as to the sources of his documentation, relying more frequently on the work of the best ethnographers. Also, without completely abandoning any of the basic concepts of his first analysis mysticism, prelogical character, participation, occasionalism , he inverted their order of importance, putting mysticism ahead of the prelogical character.
This colors their entire thinking, since for them ordinary experience is pervaded by mystical experience; similarly, for them the supernatural world, although different from the natural world, is not separate from it, and they pass unaware from one to the other. The prelogical is therefore explained by the mystical and this in turn by the predominance of affectivity over reason.
Indeed, affectivity gives a special tonality to primitive representations, and it thus has that element of generality that makes it a category of thought. He showed how this experience of the supernatural emerges mainly in the face of the unusual. He devoted other chapters to the various representations and beliefs marked by this affective category, for example, occult influences, beings and objects that bring bad or good luck, various rituals, magic, revelations as to the secret nature of things and animals, dreams, visions, the presence of the dead, and all of mythology and the techniques for participating in the mythical world.
He found such transitions especially in the development of prereligion into elaborated religion, or of myth into tale and folklore; but at the same time he emphasized more and more that both mentalities persist. Hence the theory that at the outset seemed to postulate a principle of radical difference between the thinking of primitive and civilized peoples became more flexible.
As for the fundamentals of the doctrine, however, few contemporary authors seem to accept a difference in kind between the primitive and the civilized mind. But his analyses of participation play an important part in the thought of many philosophers and sociologists, for example, Przyluski and Roger Bastide For discussion of the subsequent development of his ideas, see Pollution ; Religion , article on Anthropological Study. Paris: Hachette. Paris: Alcan.
New York : Putnam; London: Sonnenschein. London: Constable. New York : Macmillan. New York: Macmillan. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Aldrich, Charles R. New York: Harcourt. Paris: Payot. Cahiers internationaux de sociologie 30— Paris: Stock. Revue philosophique Paris: Colin. Leroy, Olivier La raison primitive. Paris: Geuthner. Przyluski, Jean La participation. Sharevskaia, B. Sovietskaia etnografiia Van Der Leeuw, G.
He was born in Paris, in The key theme of the works that he created Lucien Levy-Bruhl, - primitive thinking. Biography Lucien was born into a Jewish family. His father was a merchant, his mother a housewife. The second name Lucien acquired by marrying Alice L.
Livres (sources primaires)
Levy-Bruhl, "Primitive Thinking": a summary