Frequently referred to as the 'French Kant', Maine de Biran was dubbed the greatest French metaphysician since Descartes by Henri Bergson.
His philosophical vocabulary and key concepts still play an undeniably central role in contemporary continental philosophy. This volume situates Biran within the development of modern French, German and British philosophy and illustrates the deep influence he had on major figures such as Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Michel Henry, and Paul Ricoeur. His work also had a huge impact on philosophical understandings of the distinction between the virtual and the actual, as well as the concepts of effort and puissance, that were enormously important to Deleuze and Foucault. The notion of corps propre, so important to phenomenology in the twentieth century, in fact originates in the work of Maine de Biran.
Appearing in translation for the first time, this key work and accompanying essays makes the mature thought of this vastly important philosopher available to English speaking audiences.