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Vladimir Jankélévitch (French: [ʒɑ̃kelevitʃ]; 31 August 1903 – 6 June 1985) was a French philosopher and musicologist.



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. In 1924 he completed his DES thesis (diplôme d'études supérieures [fr], roughly equivalent to an MA thesis) on Le Traité : la dialectique. Ennéade I 3 de Plotin under the direction of Émile Bréhier.[3]

From 1927-32 he taught at the Institut Français in Prague [de], 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 (Paris I after 1971), 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. Jankélévitch, who drew on Platonist, Neoplatonist and Greek Patristic sources in establishing his essentially agnostic thought, was resolute in his opposition to German philosophical influence.[citation needed]


  • 1931: Henri Bergson (tr. into Italian, Brescia, Morcelliana, 1991. tr. into English, Nils F. Schott, 2015)
  • 1933: L'Odyssée de la conscience dans la dernière philosophie de Schelling
  • 1933: Valeur et signification de la mauvaise conscience
  • 1936: La Mauvaise conscience (tr. into Italian, Bari, Dedalo, 2000; tr. into English, Andrew Kelly, 2015)
  • 1936: L'Ironie ou la bonne conscience (tr. into Italian, Genova, Il melangolo, 1988; tr. into Serbian, Novi Sad, 1989; tr. into German by Jürgen Brankel, Frankfurt a. M., Suhrkamp, 2012)
  • 1938: L'Alternative
  • 1938: Gabriel Fauré, ses mélodies, son esthétique
  • 1939: Ravel (tr. into German by Willi Reich, Reinbek, Rowohlt, 1958; tr. into English by Margaret Crosland, NY-London, 1959; tr. into Italian by Laura Lovisetti Fua, Milano, Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, 1962)
  • 1942: Du mensonge (tr. into Italian by Marco Motto, Milano, Raffaello Cortina, 2000; tr. into German "Von der Lüge", Berlin, Parerga Verlag GmbH, 2004)
  • 1947: Le Mal (tr. into Italian by Fernanda Canepa, Genova, Marietti, 2003)
  • 1949: Traité des vertus (tr. into Italian by Elina Klersy Imberciadori, Milano, Garzanti, 1987)
  • 1950: Debussy et le mystère de I'instant
  • 1954: Philosophie première introduction à une philosophie du Presque (tr. into German by Jürgen Brankel, Vienna, Turia + Kant, 2006)
  • 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 Italian by Enrica Lisciani-Petrini, Milano, Bompiani, 1998 ; tr. into English by Carolyn Abbate, 2003; tr. into Dutch by Ronald Commers, Gent Belgie, 2005)
  • 1963: L'Aventure, l'Ennui, le Sérieux (tr. into Italian by Carlo Alberto Bonadies, Genova Marietti, 1991)
  • 1966: La Mort (tr. into Bosnian by Almasa Defterdarević-Muradbegović, Sarajevo, 1997; tr. into German by Brigitta Restorff, Frankfurt a. M., Suhrkamp, 2005; tr. into Italian Torino, Einaudi, 2009; tr. into Croatian, Zagreb, AGM, 2011) – ISBN 3-518-58446-4
  • 1967: Le pardon, (tr. into Italian by Liana Aurigemma, Milano, IPL, 1969; 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; tr. into Italian by Daniel Vogelmann, "Perdonare?", Firenze, Giuntina, 1987; tr. into German by, Claudia Brede-Konersmann, "Das Verzeihen", Frankfurt a. M., Suhrkamp, 2003)
  • 1972: L'Innocence et la méchanceté
  • 1974: L'Irréversible et la nostalgie
  • 1978: Quelque part dans l'inachevé, en collaboration avec Béatrice Berlowitz (tr. into German by Jürgen Brankel, Vienna, Turia + Kant, 2008)
  • 1980: Le Je-ne-sais-quoi et le presque rien (tr. into Italian by Carlo Alberto Bonadies, Genova, Marietti, 1987; tr. into German by Jürgen Brankel, Vienna, Turia + Kant, 2009)
  • 1981: Le Paradoxe de la morale (tr. into Italian by Ruggero Guarini, Firenze, Hopefulmonster, 1986; tr. into Croatian by Daniel Bućan, Zagreb, AGM, 2004)
Posthumous publications
  • 1994 Penser la mort? Entretiens, recueil établi par F. Schwab, Paris, Liana Levi (tr. into Italian, Milano, Raffaello Cortina, 1995; tr. into German by Jürgen Brankel, Vienna, Turia + Kant, 2003)
  1. ^ Vladimir Jankélévitch, Le Paradoxe de la morale, Paris, Éd. du Seuil, 1989.
  2. ^ Vladimir Jankélévitch, Le Je-ne-sais-quoi et le presque-rien, Paris, PUF, 1957, p. 117.
  3. ^ Alan D. Schrift, Twentieth-Century French Philosophy: Key Themes and Thinkers, John Wiley & Sons, 2009, pp. 140–1.


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