Émile Boutroux

Professor of Philosophy, Sorbonne

Science and Religion in Contemporary Philosophy

Providing a rare opportunity for his English-speaking audience, Boutroux’s lecture series explores the relationship between science and religion by taking up both naturalistic and spiritualist tendencies. He reduces the viable impact of religion upon the natural sciences and elevates the power of religion at the expense of the material world, concluding that science and religion both provide necessary insights into different areas of life.


Émile Boutroux was born on 21 July 1845 in Montrouge, France. A distinguished nineteenth century French philosopher, he defended the compatibility of religion and science. After completing two dissertations at Heidelberg, he was appointed Lecturer at the University of Montpelier in 1874. Shortly after, he became Lecturer in Philosophy in the Faculty of Letters at the University of Nancy. In 1888, he was made Professor of History of Modern Philosophy at the Sorbonne. 

Boutroux was elected a member of the Academy of the Moral and Political Sciences in 1898, and in 1902, became Director of the Thiers Foundation. His writing and research can be situated in a branch of philosophy known as French spiritualism. His notable works include Pascal (1900), Science and Religion in Contemporary Philosophy, trans. Jonathan Nield (1909), Historical Studies in Philosophy, trans. Fred Rothwell (1912), William James, trans. Archibald and Barbara Henderson (1912), La philosophie de Kant (1926), Morale et religion (1925), and De la contingence des lois de la nature (1929). 

Published/Archival Resources