Bussy, Izaak Jan le Cosquino de (1846-1920)

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Izaak Jan le Cosquino de Bussy, born 13 September 1846 at Utrecht; died 5 October 1920, at Hilversum, Holland, a student at the Amsterdam Mennonite Seminary (1865-1870); minister of the Mennonite churches at Edam (1870-1872), Wormerveer (1872-1878), and Amsterdam (1878-1884); archivist at Deventer (1889-1892); teacher of philosophy of religion and ethics at the Amsterdam University and the Mennonite Seminary 1892-1916.

Religious ideas, as de Bussy taught, are interpretations of a religious mind; they give a visible form to what a person feels of his relation to a Power which he does not observe in the world around him. They do, however, not reveal the reality around us, but the reality in us. Scientific ideas and religious ideas come from different functions of the mind; between these there is no direct relation. Religion has nothing to do, directly, with a (scientific) conception of the world; it is a way of looking at the world in the light of emotions. In the disposition of our mind a higher reality reveals itself than that which we may observe in the world of phenomena; the conceptions in which this interprets itself are always in the domain of transcendence. The truth of our religious conceptions can not be proved by contemplating the world, but only by the eye that beholds and by nothing else but a call on being normal, on the health of mind of the beholder; truth is nothing else but a state of mind. In metaphysics (i.e., concerning the question as to whether the contents of religious ideas are adequate metaphysically), de Bussy was an abstentionist, abstaining from a conclusion; but he did so as a scholar, from the intellectual function of his mind; as a human being with a religious heart he was sure of the truth of his religious ideas. Religious ideas are brought to us by culture. In the spiritual world, in which we live, we find the conception of a transcendental Power and its character.

As truth of faith does not come to us from a perceptible world, so too, according to de Bussy, our specifically ethical thoughts, our ideas about ethical right and wrong, do not flow from an outside world. Right and wrong do not exist in a world of phenomena; they only exist in the human mind; virtues and vices are not visible in the outside world. Traits of character, dispositions, inclinations are neither good nor bad in themselves, but we "think" they are good or bad. The object of our moral judgment is the character of man, more exactly, the idea of the character of a man, we have formed in our mind. Everything we think (ethically) to be right or wrong can be reduced in the last instance to human character; we do not call acts as such good or bad; if we (metaphorically) call an act good or bad, we properly mean that the acting person is good or bad according to our view, in so far as we get to know him from this act, the aim of his act, or the choice of means to realize the act.

We measure the character of a person after a standard which we have in our mind; this standard consists of ideas of virtues and vices. The question as to how we can come to judge ethically, and the question as to the origin of our standard of moral judgment, is answered by de Bussy in this way, that neither function nor standard are inborn, but are brought to us by culture. We only can say that we are capable of ideas of virtues and vices. It is evident that de Bussy represents the extreme modernist point of view.

Izaäk Jan le Cosquino de Bussy was a grandson of Félicité Sophie and Louis le Cosquino de Bussy, who about 1793 immigrated from France to Holland and lived in Utrecht as a teacher. A son of Izaak de Bussy was Arthur le Cosquino de Bussy, b. 1884 at Amsterdam, d. there 24 July 1953. He studied law and was archivist of the city of Amsterdam. He served the churches at Utrecht and Amsterdam as a deacon, was for a number of years a member of the board of the Amsterdam Mennonite Seminary and treasurer of the Zwolsche Kas.


Doopsgezind Jaarboekje (1922): 46-63.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 305.

Writings by de Bussy:

Ethisch Idealisme, 1875;

Over de waarde en den inhoud van godsdienstige voorstellingen, 1880;

Een tiental preeken, 1883;

De maatstaf van het zedelijk oordeel en het voorwerp van het godsdienstig geloof, 1889;

Wijsgeringe wetenschap en persoonlijke overtuiging, 1892;

Inleiding tot de zedekunde, 1898;

De koopman uiteen zedekundig oogpunt, 1905;

Het zedelijk beoordeelen I, 1915, II, 1920;

Articles in Theol. Tijdschrift 1878, 1882, 1888, 1891, 1895; in Teyler’s Theol. Tijdschrift 1903, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910.

After his death appeared: Opstellen van I. J. de Bussy, bewerkt door Dr. J. Maarse en Dr. N. Westendorp Boerma, 1926;

De wetenschap der moraal, bewerkt door Dr. J. Maarse en Dr. N. Westendorp Boerma,1939;

Over den oorsprong van het zedelijk beoordeelen, bewerkt door Dr. J. Maarse, 1947.

Author(s) Jan Maarse
Date Published 1953

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MLA style

Maarse, Jan. "Bussy, Izaak Jan le Cosquino de (1846-1920)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 18 May 2024. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Bussy,_Izaak_Jan_le_Cosquino_de_(1846-1920)&oldid=144915.

APA style

Maarse, Jan. (1953). Bussy, Izaak Jan le Cosquino de (1846-1920). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 May 2024, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Bussy,_Izaak_Jan_le_Cosquino_de_(1846-1920)&oldid=144915.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 485-486. All rights reserved.

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