Félix Le Dantec

Félix Le Dantec (1869-1917)

Félix-Alexandre Le Dantec (16 January 1869 in Plougastel-Daoulas 6 June 1917 in Paris) was a French biologist and philosopher of science. He has been characterised as "fanatically Lamarckian, atheist, monist, materialist and determinist".[1]


He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, where he later worked as an associate-trainer in the laboratory of Louis Pasteur. He then became an assistant in the laboratory of chemical physiology at the École pratique des Hautes études under the directorship of Emile Duclaux. In 1889-90 he performed his military service in French Indochina as a participant of the Mission Pavie. Inspired by the work of Elie Metchnikoff, he supported his doctorate in science with a study on intracellular digestion in protozoa (1891). In 1891 he was sent by Pasteur to Sao Paulo in order to conduct investigations of endemic yellow fever.[2]

In 1893 he was appointed lecturer of zoology at the University of Lyon, where he continued studies of intracellular digestion. Later, he returned to Paris (1896), where he worked in the laboratory of Alfred Giard at the École Normale Superieure and taught classes in embryology at the Sorbonne. During this time period, he began publishing a series of works on the philosophy of science. In 1900-01 he was stricken by tuberculosis, forcing a lengthy stay at the Hauteville sanatorium. Here he engaged in long discussions with a priest on the subjects of religion and atheism, publishing the book Le conflit (1901) as a result. In 1902, he returned to the Sorbonne, where from 1908, he taught classes in general biology.[2]

The Lycée Félix Le Dantec in Lannion is named in his honor.[3]

Selected works


  1. Fernando Vidal, Piaget before Piaget, Harvard University Press, 1994, p.47
  2. 1 2 3 Repères chronologiques Service des Archives de l'Institut Pasteur Félix Le Dantec (1869-1917)
  3. Etudier à Lannion Trégor Lycée Le Dantec
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