Abstract

Taking as its starting point the paradoxical nature of the persistence with which the French academic philosophers evoked the critical situation in which they found themselves between 1880 and 1914, this study attempts to bring to light the social stakes involved in the debates over Philosophy at the turn of the century. It begins first by evaluating the strategies of the legitimation and disqualification of individuals and groups and defining the limits of this crisis which fails to call into question the relative social optimism and group-cohesion of, philosophy professors. It then attempts to measure the relative decline of Philosophy within the context of the academic disciplines. The rally of support for the philosophy class and the status quo of the discipline itself appears then as a consequence of this relative decline in position. The rigour and success of this rally of supportaccounts for the fact that no real transformation in the teaching of philosophy took place during the Third Republic. Nevertheless, behind this unmoving façade, the proliferation of references to the crisis of the discipline can be taken as an index of the changes which determine its position within the educational system and the image which the professors have of their activity.