Mircea Florian (Romanian: [ˈmirt͡ʃe̯a floriˈan]; April 1, 1888 – October 31, 1960) was a Romanian philosopher and translator. Active mainly during the interwar period, he was noted as one of the leading proponents of rationalism, opposing it to the Trăirist philosophy of Nae Ionescu. His work, comprising some 20 books, shows Florian as a disciple of centrist and rationalists such as Constantin Rădulescu-Motru and Titu Maiorescu.
Active in independent social democratic politics, the philosopher became a political prisoner under the communist regime. It was during his time in jail that Florian conceived his philosophical system, published after his death in the treatise Recesivitatea ca structură a lumii ("Recessivity as World Structure"). In 1990, he was made a posthumous member of the Romanian Academy.
Born in Bucharest, Florian graduated from the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy at the local university, where he became a disciple of Rădulescu-Motru and P. P. Negulescu. He afterward took his Ph.D. at the University of Greifswald, in the German Empire, with a thesis on Henri Bergson's notion of time. In later years, he found employment as a Bucharest University assistant and substitute professor, lecturing in the History of Philosophy, and only granted full professorship in 1940. He also was presented for Romanian Academy membership by his mentor Rădulescu-Motru, but the proposal failed to gather support.
Florian's philosophy developed from ideas common to both Rădulescu-Motru and the 19th-century thinker Maiorescu, herald of Romania's moderate and critical approach to philosophy. Florian is therefore ranked among the third-generation "Maiorescans", and seen as reactivating the spirit of Maiorescu's literary club Junimea. After World War I, the Junimist legacy came in direct contradiction with Nae Ionescu's critique of rationalism, which was growing in popularity and lending its support to the far right's causes. Florian's steady opposition to Ionescu, in both concept and method, has been described as the "dualism" of interwar Romanian philosophy.
Mircea Florian was largely cut of from his public: said to have been shy in delivering his lectures, he led a private life, and dedicated himself, almost entirely, to research. He wrote a large body of works over a short time, including such titles as: Îndrumare în filosofie ("Philosophical Companion"), Rostul şi utilitatea filosofiei ("The Purpose and Use of Philosophy"), Ştiinţă şi raţionalism ("Science and Rationalism"), Cosmologia elenă ("Hellenic Cosmology"), Antinomiile credinţei ("The Antinomies of Faith"), Kant şi criticismul până la Fichte ("Kant and the Critical Method before Fichte"), Cunoaştere şi existenţă ("Knowledge and Being"), Reconstrucţie filosofică ("Philosophical Reconstruction"), Metafizică şi artă ("Metaphysics and Art"), Misticism şi credinţă ("Mysticism and Faith"). However, in addition to his absorbing career in academia, Florian affiliated with social democracy, and was a member of the Social Democratic Party, the Constantin Titel Petrescu wing.
By the time of World War II, Mircea Florian was still pursuing a debate with the two schools of irrationalism, promoted by Lucian Blaga and Constantin Noica. Blaga gave poor reviews to his work in Saeculum magazine, and, in one (disputed) interpretation, may have portrayed him as the unknown adversary in the virulent lampoon Săpunul filozofic ("Philosophic Soap", 1943). According to literary historian Z. Ornea, Florian's relative lack of exposure is unfair, since his works may rank better than those of either Noica or Blaga.
Florian's stance, and especially his commitment to independent social democracy, made him a suspect upon the establishment of Romania's communist regime. In 1948, he was stripped of his university chair, and placed under constant surveillance by the Securitate, Romania's new secret police. He was arrested and imprisoned, without trial, for eight months, during which time he had the revelation on "recessivity as world structure".
The new system evidenced that Florian had come to criticize some of the basic assumptions in Western philosophy, and conceiving of the world through the teachings of genetics. His system divided existence alongside its two, equal but alternating, attributes: the dominant trait tempered by the recessive (albeit not degraded) one; violence to love, rational to irrational, nationalism to supranationalism.
The imprisonment is said to have been a grueling experience: reportedly, his wide Angela no longer recognized him upon his return to the family home. A while after, Florian was partly reintegrated into academia, and assigned a researcher's position at the Institute of Philosophy. There, he dedicated himself to translating Aristotle's Organon, while in committing his Recesivitatea to paper in his spare time.
Recesivitatea was only published 23 years after Florian's death, with Editura Eminescu. Reportedly, the text had suffered cuts and interventions by communist censors. Florian's role was reconsidered mainly after the Romanian Revolution of 1989, when he was made a posthumous member of the Academy. His full work was recovered for the public and reviewed by philosopher Mircea Flonta, in a 1998 volume of essays.