Charles Secrétan, born on 19 January 1815 in Lausanne, died on 21 January 1895, obtained a licence in jurisprudence at the academy of Lausanne, before he went to Munich in 1835 to study with Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling. Back to the Léman region he founded the “Revue Suisse”, a journal of cultural philosophy. After having taught history and philosophy at the University of Lausanne, he was nominated ordinary professor in these domains. Due to political circumstances he had to emigrate to Paris, before coming back to Neuchâtel and later turned back to Lausanne, where he also lectured on natural law between 1874 and 1895. His main work, “La philosophie de la liberté”, is written in the spirit of Alexandre Vinet, followed the current of German idealism and professed the ideals of social Christianity as well as associationist theories and the claims of the labour movement. To be noted is a later writing on “Droit des femmes”, where he defended the emancipation of women. From 1883, he was a corresponding member of the Académie des sciences morales et politiques de l’Institut de France.
The person of the philosopher Charles Secrétan is not to be confused with the lawyer with the same name (1784-1858) who was a professor of civil and roman law at the University of Lausanne.
For more information about the person as well as his main work, please consult:
H. Barker: François T. Pillon, La philosophie de Charles Secrétan, in: Mind (Oxford: Oxford University Press), N. S. vol. 7, No. 27 (1898), pp. 423-426;
François T. Pillon: La Philosophie de Charles Secrétan, Paris: Félix Alcan, 1898 (reprinted 2006).
Selected Works of the Author
Charles Secrétan: Le droit de l’humanité, Lausanne/ Paris: Payot & Cie/ Félix Alcan, 1890; Idem: Mon utopie – Nouvelles études morales et sociales, Paris/ Lausanne: Félix Alcan/ F. Payot, 1892; Idem: Droit des femmes, Lausanne/ Paris: B. Benda/ Félix Alcan, 3rd ed. 1886.