Vladimir Jankélévitch  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Vladimir Jankélévitch (31 August 1903 in Bourges – 6 June 1985 in Paris) was a French philosopher and musicologist. He wrote about ineffability.


Jankélévitch was the son of Russian Jewish parents, who had emigrated to France. In 1922 he started studying philosophy at the École normale supérieure in Paris, under Professor Bergson. From 1927 to 1932 he taught at the Institut Français in Prague, where he wrote his doctorate on Schelling. He returned to France in 1933, where he taught at the Lycée du Parc in Lyon and at many universities, including Toulouse and Lille. In 1941 he joined the French Resistance. After the war, in 1951, he was appointed to the chair of Moral Philosophy at the Sorbonne, where he taught until 1978.

The extreme subtlety of his thought is apparent throughout his works where the very slightest gradations are assigned great importance. Jankelevitch, who drew on Platonist, Neoplatonist and Greek Patristic sources in establishing his essentially agnostic thought, was resolute in his opposition to German philosophical influence.


  • 1931: Henri Bergson
  • 1933: L'Odyssée de la conscience dans la dernière philosophie de Schelling
  • 1933: Valeur et signification de la mauvaise conscience
  • 1936: La Mauvaise conscience
  • 1936: L'Ironie ou la bonne conscience
  • 1938: L'Alternative
  • 1938: Gabriel Fauré, ses mélodies, son esthétique
  • 1939: Ravel (tr. into English by Margaret Crosland, NY-London, 1959)
  • 1942: Du mensonge
  • 1947: Le Mal
  • 1949: Traité des vertus
  • 1950: Debussy et le mystère de I'instant
  • 1954: Philosophie première introduction à une philosophie du Presque
  • 1956: L'Austérité et la Vie morale'
  • 1957: Le Je-ne-sais quoi et le presque-rien
  • 1960: Le Pur et l'impur
  • 1961: La Musique et l'Ineffable, (tr. into Serbian by Jelena Jelić, Novi Sad, 1987; tr. into English by Caroline Abbate, 2003)
  • 1963: L'Aventure, l'Ennui, le Sérieux
  • 1966: La Mort (tr. into Bosnian by Almasa Defterdarević-Muradbegović, Sarajevo, 1997; dt. Ausg. Der Tod, Frankfurt a. M., Suhrkamp, 2005) - ISBN 3518584464
  • 1967: Le pardon, (tr. into English as Forgiveness by Andrew Kelley, 2005)
  • 1968: Le Sérieux de l'intention
  • 1970: Les Vertus et l'Amour'
  • 1971: L 'Imprescriptible, (a section ("Pardonner?") of which is translated into English by Ann Hobart as "Should We Pardon Them?," Critical Inquiry, 22, Spring 1996)
  • 1972: L'Innocence et la méchanceté
  • 1974: L'Irréversible et la nostalgie
  • 1978: Quelque part dans l'inachevé, en collaboration avec Béatrice Berlowitz
  • 1980: Le Je-ne-sais-quoi et le presque rien
  • 1981: Le Paradoxe de la morale' (tr. into Croatian by Daniel Bućan, Zagreb, 2004)

Posthumous publications

  • 1994 Penser la mort? Entretiens, recueil établi par F. Schwab, Paris, Liana Levi, 160 p.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Vladimir Jankélévitch" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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