Wahl, Jean

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WAHL, JEAN (1888–1974), French philosopher. Wahl was born in Marseilles, studied at the Sorbonne, and taught at Besançon, Nancy, and Lyons. In 1941 he was imprisoned in a concentration camp, but was rescued and went to the U.S., where he taught at the New School for Social Research in New York City, Mount Holyoke, and Smith College. After World War ii, he became a professor at the University of Paris and also developed the Collège Philosophique for the presentation and discussion of philosophical themes.

Wahl wrote many important works, both on traditional philosophy and on existentialism, of which he became a leading exponent. He wrote Les Philosophies pluralistes d'Angleterre et d'Amérique (1920; The Pluralistic Philosophies of England and America, 1925), on Descartes and Hegel, and the important Etudes Kierkegaardiennes (1938), which brought Kierkegaard's thought to the attention of the French intellectual world. He followed this with a series of works developing the existentialist position, both in terms of its history and of his own ideas. Wahl stressed the role of traditional philosophy in his major work, Etude sur le Parménide de Platon (1926). He also wrote a volume of poems.


Blin, in: Fontaine (1946), 632–48, 808–26.

[Richard H. Popkin]