Hersch, Jeanne (1910—)

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Hersch, Jeanne (1910—)

Swiss philosopher. Name variations: Jeanne Hersche. Born in Geneva, Switzerland, on July 13, 1910; attended primary and secondary school in Geneva; granted degree in literary history from the University of Geneva, 1931; University of Basel, Ph.D., 1946.

Taught at École Internationale in Geneva (1933–55); received the Montaigne Prize; was professor of philosophy, University of Geneva (1956–77); served as director of the Department of Philosophy, UNESCO, Paris (1966–68); was Swiss representative on the executive council of UNESCO (1970–72); was president of the Karl Jaspers Foundation in Basel; served as guest scholar for the Karl Jaspers Lectures, University of Oldenburg, c. 1995.

Selected works:

Entretiens Sur le Temps: sons la direction de Jeanne Hersch et René Poirier (Conversations on Time: Under the Direction of Jeanne Hersch and René Poirier, 1967); Le Droit d'être un Homme (Birthright of Man, 1968); Problemes Actuels de la Liberté (Contemporary Problems of Freedom, 1976); Karl Jaspers (1979); Die Voraussetz ungen der Freiheit in den Medien: Analysen und Vorschläge (Prerequisites for Freedom of the Press: Analysis and Suggestions, 1982); Die Hoffnung Mensch zu Sein (The Hope of Being Human); Das Philosophische Staunen (Philosophical Amazement); Schwierige Freiheit: Gerspräche mit Jeanne Hersch (Difficult Freedom: Conversations with Jeanne Hersch).

Jeanne Hersch was born in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1910. Her education included undergraduate work at the Sorbonne in Paris, in Heidelberg, Freiburg, and Geneva, culminating in a degree in literary history from the University of Geneva in 1931. For 22 years, she taught at the École Internationale in Geneva. Hersch traveled to Chile (1935–36) and Thailand (1938–39), then completed her doctoral studies at the University of Basel in 1946. She received a post-doctoral teaching qualification and lectured privately for the next ten years, then worked as a professor of philosophy at the University of Geneva from 1956 to 1977. During her academic career, she was a visiting professor at Pennsylvania State University (1959) and at Hunter College, New York University (1961–62), and was extremely active in UNESCO.

As a disciple of the philosopher Karl Jaspers, Hersch has been concerned with how human existence relates to truth. Also influenced by Immanuel Kant and his recognition that we must accept ourselves as subjective knowers, she sees a consciousness of history as helpful to this acceptance. Her political philosophy emphasizes the importance of freedom, advocating a socialism tempered with democracy.


Kersey, Ethel M. Women Philosophers: a Bio-critical Source Book. NY: Greenwood Press, 1989.

Rodden, Warwick J. "Jeanne Hersche," in Katharina Wilson, ed., Encyclopedia of Continental Women Writers. NY: Garland, 1991.

Catherine Hundleby , M.A. Philosophy, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

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Hersch, Jeanne (1910—)

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