Lucien Lévy-Bruhl

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Lucien Lévy-Bruhl
Lucien Lévy-Bruhl - Philosoph.jpg
Lucien Lévy-Bruhl
Born10 April 1857
Paris, France
Died13 March 1939 (aged 81)
Paris, France
Alma materÉcole Normale Supérieure
Scientific career
Fieldsphilosophy, sociology, ethnology
Doctoral studentsAlice Voinescu
InfluencesÉmile Durkheim
InfluencedPaul Masson-Oursel, C. G. Jung, Louis Hjelmslev, Hélène Metzger, Léon Brunschvicg, Emmanuel Levinas

Lucien Lévy-Bruhl (10 April 1857 – 13 March 1939) was a French scholar trained in philosophy who furthered anthropology with his contributions to the budding fields of sociology and ethnology. His primary field of study involved primitive mentality.

Born in Paris, Lévy-Bruhl wrote about the 'primitive mind' in his work How Natives Think (1910), where he posited, as the two basic mindsets of mankind, the "primitive" and the "modern." The primitive mind does not differentiate the supernatural from reality but uses "mystical participation" to manipulate the world. According to Lévy-Bruhl, the primitive mind does not address contradictions.

The modern mind, by contrast, uses reflection and logic. Lévy-Bruhl believed in a historical and evolutionary teleology leading from the primitive mind to the modern mind.[citation needed] Sociologist Stanislav Andreski[1] argued that despite its flaws,[which?] Lévy-Bruhl's How Natives Think was an accurate and valuable contribution to anthropology, perhaps even more so than better-known work by Claude Lévi-Strauss.

Lévy-Bruhl's work, especially the concepts of collective representation[2] and participation mystique, influenced the psychological theory of C. G. Jung.


  • History of Modern Philosophy in France (1899)
  • La philosophie d'Auguste Comte (1900), translated as The Philosophy of Auguste Comte. 1903 – via Project Gutenberg.
  • Les fonctions mentales dans les sociétés inférieures (1910), translated as How Natives Think (1926)
  • La mentalité primitive (1922), translated as Primitive Mentality (1923)
  • L'âme primitive (1927), translated as The "Soul" of the Primitive (1928, reedited in 1965 with a foreword by E.E. Evans-Pritchard)
  • Le surnaturel et la nature dans la mentalité primitive (1931), translated as Primitives and the Supernatural (1936)
  • La mythologie primitive (Primitive Mythology, 1935)
  • L'expérience mystique et les symboles chez les primitifs (The Mystic Experience and Primitive Symbolism, 1938)
  • Les carnets de Lucien Lévy-Bruhl (Notebooks of Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, published posthumously in 1949)


  1. ^ Andreski, Stanislav. Social Sciences as Sorcery, London: Andre Deutsch, 1972
  2. ^ Jung CG, "Les Racines de La Conscience – Études Sur L' Archétype", Buchet/Chastel, Paris, 1971, p. 14

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