Lucien Lévy-Bruhl

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Lucien Lévy-Bruhl
Born 10 April 1857
Died 13 March 1939 (aged 81)
Nationality French
Fields philosophy, sociology, ethnology
Influences Émile Durkheim
Influenced Paul Masson-Oursel, C. G. Jung, Hélène Metzger, Léon Brunschvicg

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

Lévy-Bruhl was born in Paris. He was an anthropologist who wrote about the 'primitive mind'. In his work How Natives Think (1910), Lévy-Bruhl speculated about what he posited as the two basic mindsets of mankind, "primitive" and "Western." The primitive mind does not differentiate the supernatural from reality, but rather uses "mystical participation" to manipulate the world. According to Lévy-Bruhl, moreover, the primitive mind doesn't address contradictions. The Western mind, by contrast, uses speculation and logic. Like many theorists of his time, Lévy-Bruhl believed in a historical and evolutionary teleology leading from the primitive mind to the Western mind. Sociologist Stanislav Andreski[1] argued that despite its flaws, 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.


  • 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

External links