French philosopher; born at Liocourt, department of the Meurthe, Oct. 9, 1809; died at Paris April 11, 1893. Destined for the rabbinate, at the age of fourteen he was committed to the care of Marchand Ennery ; at the same time he obtained a secular education. Failing to win a rabbinical scholarship, he dallied awhile with medicine, and at length turned to philosophy, in which he found his proper field. In 1832 Franck became "agrégé" of philosophy, taking the first position on the list. He then taught successively at the colleges of Douai, Nancy, and Versailles, and in 1840 at the Collège Charlemagne at Paris, where among his pupils were Edmond About and Francisque Sarcey. The same year he began a complementary course of public lectures at the Sorbonne. In 1842 he was appointed assistant curator of the Bibliothèque Royale. After a visit to Italy (1843), necessitated by his health, he began his "Dictionnaire des Sciences Philosophiques," his principal work. In 1844 he was elected member of the Institut de France (Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques) in recognition of his "Esquisse d'une Histoire de la Logique" and his work on the Cabala, which latter became very popular and was translated into German by Adolf Jellinek (Leipsic, 1844).
In 1847 Franck again took up his work at the Sorbonne and started a course in social philosophy. After a few months he was asked by Barthélemy St. Hilaire, whom the revolution of 1848 had drawn into the political arena, to take his place at the Collège de France. Franck was himself affected by the political turmoil of the time, and in 1848 became candidate for the deputyship of the department of the Meurthe, but failed of election. In 1856 he became incumbent of the chair of natural and civillaw, a position which he held for thirty years. He became president of the Anti-Atheist League, and took deep interest in the work of the Society for the Translation of the Scriptures, which he joined at its inauguration in 1866. He founded and controlled the "Paix Sociale," the organ of the Anti-Atheist League, wrote for the "Journal des Débats," and was one of the editors of the "Journal des Savants." An active defender of Judaism, his lecture at the Collège de France entitled "Le Rôle des Juifs dans le Développement de la Civilisation" was reprinted in the "Archives Israêlites" of 1855, to which journal he contributed for fifty years, and in which he published the two essays "De la Création" (1845) and "Le Péché Original et la Femme" (1885). He was a patron of the Société des Etudes Juives, and became its president in 1888. Chosen member of the Consistoire Central des Israélites de France for Nancy in 1844, he soon became its vice-president. Under the empire he was the representative of Judaism at the Conseil Supérieur de l'Instruction Publique, resigning in 1874 on a question of organization. He was also one of the founders and presidents of the Ligue de la Paix.
Franck's work met with speedy recognition. He became chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1844 officer in 1862, and commander in 1869. The revolution of 1870, however, prevented his reaching the Senate, a position to which the emperor had wished to elevate him.
The following are Franck's best-known works:
- La Kabbale ou Philosophie Religieuse des Hébreux. Paris, 1843; 2d ed., 1889.
- Dictionnaire des Sciences Philosophiques. 1843-52, 6 vols.: new ed., 1875.
- Esquisse d'une Histoire de la Logique. 1838.
- De la Certitude. 1847.
- Le Communisme Jugé par l'Histoire. 1849.
- Paracelse et l'Alchimie au. XVI. Siècle. 1855.
- Etudes Orientales. 1861.
- Reformateurs et Publicistes de l'Europe. 3 series, 1863-93.
- Philosophie du Droit Pènal. 1864.
- Philosophie du Droit Ecclésiastique. 1864.
- Philosophie du Droit Civil. 1866.
- La Philosophie Mystique en France an XVIII. Siècle. 1866.
- Philosophie et Religion. 1867.
- Morale pour Tous. 1868.
- La Vraie et la Fausse Egalite. 1868.
- Moralistes et Philosophes. 1871.
- Le Capital. 1872.
- Projet de Constitution. 1872.
- La Religion et la Science dans le Judaisme. 1883.
- Essals de Critique Philosophique. 1885.
- Nouveaux Essals. 1890.
- Arch. Isr. April, 1848, April, 1893;
- La Grande Encyclopédie;
- Le National, Feb. 5, 1891;
- Le Temps, April 12, 1893;
- Univ. Isr. May 1, 1893;
- Vapereau, Dictionnaire des Contemporains, 1880;
- Hartwig Derenbourg, Eloge d'Adolphe Franck, in R. E. J. lv., pp. iii-xi.