was a French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...
scholar trained in philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...
, who made contributions to the budding fields of sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...
Ethnology is the branch of anthropology that compares and analyzes the origins, distribution, technology, religion, language, and social structure of the ethnic, racial, and/or national divisions of humanity.-Scientific discipline:Compared to ethnography, the study of single groups through direct...
. His primary field of study involved primitive mentality.
Lévy-Brühl was born in Paris. He was an anthropologist who wrote about the 'primitive mind'. In his work How Natives Think
(1910), Lévy-Brühl speculated about what he posited as the two basic mindsets of mankind, "primitive" and "Western." The primitive mind does not differentiate the supernatural from reality, but rather uses "mystical participation" to manipulate the world. According to Lévy-Brühl, moreover, the primitive mind doesn't address contradictions. The Western mind, by contrast, uses speculation and logic
In philosophy, Logic is the formal systematic study of the principles of valid inference and correct reasoning. Logic is used in most intellectual activities, but is studied primarily in the disciplines of philosophy, mathematics, semantics, and computer science...
. Like many theorists of his time, Lévy-Brühl believed in a historical and evolutionary teleology
A teleology is any philosophical account which holds that final causes exist in nature, meaning that design and purpose analogous to that found in human actions are inherent also in the rest of nature. The word comes from the Greek τέλος, telos; root: τελε-, "end, purpose...
leading from the primitive mind to the Western mind. Sociologist Stanislav Andreski
Stanisław Andrzejewski was a Polish-British sociologist known best for his scathing indictment of the "pretentious nebulous verbosity" endemic in the modern social sciences in his classic work Social Sciences as Sorcery .Andrzejewski was a Polish Army officer...
argued that despite its flaws, Lévy-Brühl's How Natives Think
was an accurate and valuable contribution to anthropology, perhaps even more so than better-known work by Claude Lévi-Strauss
Claude Lévi-Strauss was a French anthropologist and ethnologist, and has been called, along with James George Frazer, the "father of modern anthropology"....
Lévy-Brühl's work, especially the concepts of collective representation
and participation mystique
Participation mystique, or mystical participation, refers to the instinctive human tie to symbolic fantasy emanations. This symbolic life precedes or accompanies all mental and intellectual differentiation...
, influenced the psychological theory of C. G. Jung
Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and the founder of Analytical Psychology. Jung is considered the first modern psychiatrist to view the human psyche as "by nature religious" and make it the focus of exploration. Jung is one of the best known researchers in the field of dream analysis and...
- Les fonctions mentales dans les sociétés inférieures (1910), translated as How Natives Think (1926)
- La mentalité primitive (1922), translated as Primitive Mentality (1923)
- L'âme primitive (1927), translated as The "Soul" of the Primitive (1928, reedited in 1965 with a foreword by E.E. Evans-Pritchard)
- Le surnaturel et la nature dans la mentalité primitive (1931), translated as Primitives and the Supernatural (1936)
- La mythologie primitive (Primitive Mythology, 1935)
- L'expérience mystique et les symboles chez les primitifs (The Mystic Experience and Primitive Symbolism, 1938)
- Les carnets de Lucien Lévy-Bruhl (Notebooks of Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, published posthumously in 1949)