Emmanuel Mounier

Emmanuel Mounier

Emmanuel Mounier (1905-1950), a French personalist, Founding Editor of the monthly Esprit (1932). He was born in Grenoble on April 1, 1905. Mounier studied philosophy under Jacques Chevalier, a pupil of Henri Bergson and from 1927 he pursued his philosophical studies at the Sorbonne, Paris. His close friends were: J. Maritain, J. Danielou, N. Berdyaev, and G. Marcel. In 1935 he married Paulette Leclercq, they had three daughters. In 1942 he was in prison for supporting the resistance movement. After the Second World War Mounier organized his Esprit house in Chatenay near Paris, and he visited Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, England, Poland (1946), Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Central Africa. He died on March 22, 1950 from a heart attack.

E. Mounier wrote 15 books and his major publications are: Révolution personnaliste et communautaire (Paris 1934); Manifeste au service du personnalisme (Esprit, Paris 1936); Introduction aux existentialismes (Paris 1946); Qu’est-ce que le personnalisme? (Paris 1947) and Le personnalisme (Paris 1950).

A human person has an individual and a communitarian dimension.

The word ‘personalism’ (personnalisme) is of recent usage. Introduced in 1903 by Renouvier to describe his philosophy, it then fell into disuse. Several Americans have made use of it, following Walt Whitman in his Democratic Vistas (1867). It reappeared towards 1930 in France, a very different climate of thought, to designate the first researches of the review Esprit and of some neighbouring groups (Ordre Nouveau and others) concerning the political and spiritual crisis then arising in Europe.

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