BARUZI Jean—historian, philosopher of religion, b. July 9, 1881, d. March 21, 1953 in Paris.

After many years of studies and investigations in Germany and Spain, he became Loisy’s assistant in the Collège de France. From 1931 to 1933 he was a professor at the University of Besançon. From 1933 to 1951 he was director of the chair of the history of religion in the Collège de France that had been occupied by Loisy.

His works: Leibniz et l’organisation religieuse de la terre (P 1907); Leibniz (p 1909); Saint Jean de la Croix et le problème de l’expérience mystique (P 1924, P 19312; Problèmes d’histoire des religions (P 1935); Création religieuse et pensée contemplative (P 1951).

The main question taken up by Baruzi was the cognitive value and metaphysical aspect of religious experiences, especially of mystic phenomena. In his research he was inspired by Bergson’s method. This method consists in a detailed and completely sympathetic intuitive examination of the facts as constituting a certain whole. Through gestures, behaviors, texts, and religious structures, intuition allows one to reach what is fundamental and original. The method, so understood, eliminates superficial comparisons and classifications, and it attempts to describe and define various religious experiences to discover in them the content of particular instances of experience that are incomparable and cannot be reduced one to another. An analysis of the personalities of mystics and their works forms the foundation for the method of investigating mystical experiences. One cannot stop, however, at a historical-psychological analysis, but analysis must be accompanied by philosophical reflection. Baruzi applied such a method to his analysis of the mystical experiences of St. Paul, St. John of the Cross, and other mystics. In his analyses he tried to work out a “metaphysics of mysticism” and answer questions associated with mysticism: on the cognitive value of mystical experiences, on the difference between natural contemplation and supernatural contemplation, about the language of mysticism and speculative language. Baruzi’s historical-mystical method is generally accepted as a model in studies of mystical phenomena, but his philosophical analyses are not exhaustive. Instead of resolving problems, they create new problems. This is the result of his idealistic presuppositions.

P. Chevallier, Saint Jean de la Croix en Sorbonne, La vie spirituelle. Supplement 12 (1925), 188–122; R. Dalbiez, Une récente interprétation de saint Jean de la Croix, ibid 19 (1928), 1–28, 49–79; M. de Gandillac, Le secret d’Angélus Silesius, Dieu vivant, 19 (1951), 137–142; C. Devivaise, Jean B. (1881–1953), Les Études philosophiques 8 (1953), 68–71; J. F. Braunstein, Dictionnaire des Philosophes, P 1984, I 222.

Paweł P. Furdzik

<--Go back