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Great Thinkers Gallery: Beaumont Bouxard

Updated on May 12, 2010

The Father of Deductionism

Beaumont Bouxard, the French philosopher (1811-1865), only had contempt for his contemporaries, whom he considered almost moronic in their inability to come to terms with the core issues of human existence. One of his main theories, as expressed in Le Volume des Lettres I (The Letters Volume I, 1833), was that of deductionism, according to which “A man’s worth is only what he does, says, and thinks on his own merit.”

As Bouxard elaborated, a number of factors others usually take for granted would need to be disregarded, such as: education; cultural status; readings; famous quotes. According to Bouxard, a man who walks for half a mile, then sits inside a stagecoach for 80 miles, has traveled merely half a mile. If he sings a song his mother taught him, he has essentially rendered only the few words that he accidentally got wrong when road bumps distracted him from remembering the true wording.

By his own definition, Bouxard had never made any money. According to reliable sources, none more outstanding than Madame Joli Antoinette, he had “an abundance of wealth becoming of a famous horse trader’s son,” meaning probably no more than the allowances and subsequent inheritance he would need to maintain for 30-plus years his humble existence in the Garrison du Flamboyance, a gated community somewhere in the vicinity of the 14th Parisian commune. Think ice cold water, smelly fireplaces, a stink of horses from the nearby staples, the noise of farmers doing there things early in the morning – then you’ve got the underpinnings of a reclusive man.

The letters were real, however, and they kept flowing from his hand like sweet whispers of comfort flowing from the mouth of a drunken nun. In 1836, he released to an unsuspecting public Le Volume des Lettres II, which is widely viewed as his paramount work. The 840-page book, neatly subdivided into 59 chapters, was essentially one long frontal attack upon society and all of its institutions. None was spared, whether clergy, the business establishment, or the political apparatus, all of which Bouxard contemptuously labeled “les enfants gâtés” (the spoiled brats). The book caused an uproar, one reason being its closing argument:

“Men of so-called wisdom, of class and distinction, of wealth and respect, what have they taught us? What have they done for you an me? Throughout their lives, whatever have they accomplished, except so as to keep reminding us of their own importance? Nothing, my dear reader! According to my Deductionist Theory of Existence, these men never lived at all – whereas the prostitutes on street corners, the beggars, and the workmen are real, their life meaningful in the extreme. At least they sweat, they bleed, and they suffer for our continuing delight.”


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