Koyré as a Historian of Religion and the New French Phenomenology



The aim of this article is to explore the influence that Koyré’s early work on history of religion had on the development of French phenomenology, with focus on Emmanuel Levinas and Michel Henry. Although Koyré’s affiliation to the phenomenological movement is debatable, his thought owes much to Husserl’s phenomenological method. In his books on St. Anselm and Descartes, Koyré focuses on the idea of God and the idea of the infinite. I trace the influence of Koyré’s analysis of the infinite in its relation to the finite on the development of the idea of the infinite in Levinas. I also show that Levinassian approach to the idea of God as “the idea of the Infinite in me” goes back to Koyré’s interpretation of the ontological proof of St. Anselm. Next, I explore the influence of Koyré’s book on Böhme on the philosophy of Michel Henry. Koyré’s reading of Böhme makes Böhme essentially a precursor of German idealism describing the Absolute that wishes to manifest itself and distinguishing between the manifestation and what is made manifest in this manifestation. Henry applies this approach to phenomena in general, which leads him to a criticism of intentionality loss of a cosmological dimension. I would like to argue in favour of a more balanced phenomenology that wants to be not only prescriptive but also descriptive and sensitive to a certain scientific dimension.


History of phenomenological movement Ontological argument Idea of the infinite Cosmological dimension of human experience Anselm Böhme Descartes Husserl Michel Henry Levinas 



I would like to express my gratitude to G. Pattison, D. Drozdova, J.-M. Salanskis, Z. Sokuler, F. Worms and G. Jean for comments and discussions.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Research University Higher School of EconomicsMoscowRussian Federation

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