BASTIDE Georges—philosopher, b. April 5, 1901 in Cournonterral (Hérault), d. September 9, 1969 in Nice.
After he completed his philosophical studies he taught philosophy in various lycees in Cahors, Toulouse, and Paris. In 1939 he defended two doctoral dissertations: De la condition humaine, and Le moment historique de Socrate, which opened the way for him to teach at a higher level. He and Professor L. Brunschvicg became friends. From 1941 he lectured philosophy at the University of Toulouse. In 1946 he was appointed to the chair of moral philosophy. From 1952 he was dean of the faculty of philosophy for three terms. At the same time he lectured in the Institute of Political Sciences in Toulouse, was the director of the philosophical journal “Les Études philosophiques”, the president of the French Philosophical Society, a corresponding member of the French Academy of Sciences, and director of the International Federation of Societies of Philosophers of the French Language.
The most important works of Bastides include: De la condition humaine (P 1939); Le moment historique de Socrate (P 1939); Les grands thèmes moraux de la civilisation occidentale (Gre 1943, P 19582); Méditations pour un éthique de la personne (P 1953); Mirages et certitudes de la civilisation (P 1955); Traité de l’action morale (I–II, P 1961); Essai d’éthique fondamentale (P 1971).
In the center of Bastides’ philosophical reflection, described as spiritualism or axiological idealism, we find the problematic of values. In this thought there are influences from the idealism of L. Brunschvicg and the spiritualism of L. Lavelle and R. Le Senne, and in a later phase of development personalistic philosophy shaped his thought.
According to Bastides, it belongs to man’s nature to desire perfection, a worthy life with spiritual values. This is expressed in moral unrest (scrupule)—in a certain hesitation in man, which he feels when making moral decisions. This unrest shows things from the aspect of their values. It also testifies to the insufficiency of finite goods for man. At the same time it points to the existence of the authentic Absolute, the single permanent Value that gives meaning to other values. In this unrest thus understood Bastides saw a source of philosophical and axiological investigations. Tormented by unrest, constantly torn between “the external” (the world of material and utilitarian values) and the “internal” (the world of spiritual values), man needs conversion. Conversion, one of the central concepts of Bastides’ philosophy, is described as a passage from “innate faith” (foi native), which is connected with attachment to material goods, to “acquired faith” (foi conquise), which does not consist merely in rejecting “the external” but primarily in ordering oneself to spiritual values, which opens for man the way to true freedom, to an authentic life. Solipsism, locking oneself in one’s own world of consciousness, can be overcome only by discovering God in the depth of the cogito, in one’s own soul (Bastides here refers to Descartes’ Third Meditation).
The task of philosophy is to help man in the reflective cognition of himself. It should be “the teacher of the authentic life”. The function of pointing the way to indestructible, spiritual values has particular significance in the face of the dangers and catastrophes of the twentieth century. Philosophy, which radiates higher values, transmits the most essential heritage of western culture. It also has important social functions to perform. It is the “pedagogue of liberation” as it introduces moral values to social life. Bastides saw a new role for the university in the transmission of these values in the master-disciple relation.
Éthique et civilisation selon Georges B., Les Études philosophiques 9 (1954), 79–90; idem, Las orientaciones espiritualistas en la filosofía francesca contemporánea. R. La Senne, George B., J. Chevalier, Espiritu 21 (1957), 11–22; H. Duméry, L’action morale, Les Études philosophiques 17 (1962), 445–451; A. Voelke, Action morale et analyse réflexive selon Georges B., Studia philosophica 23 (1963), 212–229; T. Koenig, Axiological Idealism and Spiritualism. The Philosophy of Georges B., Lv 1967; R. Blanché, Georges B. (1901–1969), Les Études philosophiques 24 (1969), 297–298; M. T. Pradines, J. P. Laffont, Georges B., philosophe de la valeur, Ts 1970; W. Zuziak, Dojrzewanie świadomości refleksyjnej w filozofii moralnej Georges’a B. i Jeana Naberta [The maturation of reflective consciousnses in the moral philosophy of Georges Bastides and Jean Nabert], Kr 1988; idem, Georgesa B. filozofia wartości, SPCh 32 (1996) n. 2, 245–256.