He was educated at the Ecole Normale, and returned thither as director of studies in 1838, after some years spent in provincial schoolmasterships.
His father, a professor of philosophy, gave him an excellent education at the Stanislas College and the Ecole Normale, where he graduated in 1848.
To become professor in a lyce it is necessary to pass an examination known as the agrgation, candidates for which must be licentiates of a faculty (or have passed through the cole normale suprieurc).
Educated at the Lycee Corot, and the Rcole Normale he was successively professor of philosophy at the Lycee d'Angers 1881-3, at the Lycee de Clermont 1883-8, at the College Rollin 1888-9, at the Lycee Henry IV.
1889-97, at the Ecole Normale Superieure 1897-1900 and at the College de France 1900-21.