Henri-Louis Bergson (French: [bɛʁksɔn]; 18 October 1859 – 4
January 1941) was a French philosopher who was influential in the
tradition of continental philosophy, especially during the first half
of the 20th century until World War II.
Bergson is known for his influential arguments that processes of
immediate experience and intuition are more significant than abstract
rationalism and science for understanding reality.
He was awarded the 1927
Nobel Prize in Literature
Nobel Prize in Literature "in recognition of
his rich and vitalizing ideas and the brilliant skill with which they
have been presented". In 1930 France awarded him its highest
honour, the Grand-Croix de la Legion d'honneur.
Bergson's great popularity created a controversy in France where his
views were seen as opposing the secular and scientific attitude
adopted by the Republic's officials.
1.2 Education and career
1.3 Relationship with James and Pragmatism
1.4 Lectures on change
1.5 Later years
1.6 Debate with Albert Einstein
1.7 Later years and death
2.4 Élan vital
3.1 Comparison to Eastern philosophies
5 See also
7 Further reading
8 External links
8.1 Works online
Bergson was born in the Rue Lamartine in Paris, not far from the
Palais Garnier (the old Paris opera house) in 1859. His father, the
pianist Michał Bergson, was of a
Polish Jewish background (originally
bearing the name Bereksohn). His great-grandmother, Temerl Bergson,
was a well-known patroness and benefactor of Polish Jewry, especially
those associated with the Hasidic movement. His mother,
Katherine Levison, daughter of a Yorkshire doctor, was from an English
and Irish Jewish background. The Bereksohns were a famous Jewish
entrepreneurial family of Polish descent. Henri Bergson's
great-great-grandfather, Szmul Jakubowicz Sonnenberg, called
Zbytkower, was a prominent banker and a protégé of Stanisław II
Augustus, King of Poland from 1764 to 1795.
Henri Bergson's family lived in London for a few years after his
birth, and he obtained an early familiarity with the English language
from his mother. Before he was nine, his parents settled in France,
Henri becoming a naturalized French citizen.
Henri Bergson married Louise Neuberger, a cousin of Marcel Proust
(1871–1922), in 1891. (The novelist served as best man at Bergson's
wedding.) Henri and Louise Bergson had a daughter, Jeanne, born
deaf in 1896. Bergson's sister, Mina Bergson (also known as Moina
Mathers), married the English occult author Samuel Liddell MacGregor
Mathers, a founder of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and the
couple later relocated to Paris as well.
Bergson lived the quiet life of a French professor, marked by the
publication of his four principal works:
Time and Free Will (Essai sur les données immédiates de la
Matter and Memory (Matière et mémoire)
in 1907, Creative
Evolution (L'Évolution créatrice)
in 1932, The Two Sources of Morality and Religion (Les deux sources de
la morale et de la religion)
In 1900 the
College of France
College of France selected Bergson to a Chair of Greek and
Roman Philosophy, which he held until 1904. He then replaced Gabriel
Tarde in the Chair of Modern Philosophy, which he held until 1920. The
public attended his open courses in large numbers.
Education and career
Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience (Dissertation,
Quid Aristoteles de loco senserit (Dissertation, 1889)
Bergson attended the
Lycée Fontanes (known as the
1870–1874 and 1883–present) in Paris from 1868 to 1878. He had
previously received a Jewish religious education. Between 14 and
16, however, he lost his faith. According to Hude (1990), this moral
crisis is tied to his discovery of the theory of evolution, according
to which humanity shares common ancestry with modern primates, a
process sometimes construed as not needing a creative deity.
While at the lycée Bergson won a prize for his scientific work and
another, in 1877 when he was eighteen, for the solution of a
mathematical problem. His solution was published the following year in
Nouvelles Annales de Mathématiques. It was his first published
work. After some hesitation as to whether his career should lie in the
sphere of the sciences or that of the humanities, he decided in favour
of the latter, to the dismay of his teachers. When he was
nineteen, he entered the École Normale Supérieure. During this
period, he read Herbert Spencer. He obtained there the degree of
licence ès lettres, and this was followed by that of agrégation de
philosophie in 1881 from the University of Paris.
The same year he received a teaching appointment at the lycée in
Angers, the ancient capital of Anjou. Two years later he settled at
Lycée Blaise-Pascal (Clermont-Ferrand) (fr) in
Clermont-Ferrand, capital of the
The year after his arrival at
Clermont-Ferrand Bergson displayed his
ability in the humanities by the publication of an edition of extracts
from Lucretius, with a critical study of the text and of the
materialist cosmology of the poet (1884), a work whose repeated
editions[which?] attest to its value in promoting Classics among
French youth. While teaching and lecturing in this part of his country
(the Auvergne region), Bergson found time for private study and
original work. He crafted his dissertation
Time and Free Will, which
was submitted, along with a short
Latin thesis on
Aristoteles de loco senserit, "On the
Concept of Place in Aristotle"),
for his doctoral degree which was awarded by the University of Paris
in 1889. The work was published in the same year by Félix Alcan. He
also gave courses in
Clermont-Ferrand on the Pre-Socratics, in
particular on Heraclitus.
Time and Free Will to Jules Lachelier (fr)
(1832–1918), then public education minister, a disciple of Félix
Ravaisson (1813–1900) and the author of a philosophical work On the
Founding of Induction (Du fondement de l'induction, 1871). Lachelier
endeavoured "to substitute everywhere force for inertia, life for
death, and liberty for fatalism". (Bergson owed much to both of these
teachers of the École Normale Supérieure. Compare his memorial
address on Ravaisson, who died in 1900.)
Bergson settled again in Paris in 1888, and after teaching for
some months at the municipal college, known as the College Rollin, he
received an appointment at the
Lycée Henri-Quatre, where he remained
for eight years. There, he read Darwin and gave a course on his
theories. Although Bergson had previously endorsed
its theory of the heritability of acquired characteristics, he came to
prefer Darwin's hypothesis of gradual variations, which were more
compatible with his continual vision of life.
In 1896 he published his second major work, entitled Matter and
Memory. This rather difficult work investigates the function of the
brain and undertakes an analysis of perception and memory, leading up
to a careful consideration of the problems of the relation of body and
mind. Bergson had spent years of research in preparation for each of
his three large works. This is especially obvious in Matter and
Memory, where he showed a thorough acquaintance with the extensive
pathological investigations which had been carried out during the
In 1898 Bergson became maître de conférences at his alma mater,
École Normale Supérieure, and later in the same year received a
promotion to a Professorship. The year 1900 saw him installed as
Professor at the Collège de France, where he accepted the Chair of
Greek and Roman Philosophy in succession to Charles
At the first International Congress of Philosophy, held in Paris
during the first five days of August 1900, Bergson read a short, but
important, paper, "Psychological Origins of the Belief in the Law of
Causality" (Sur les origines psychologiques de notre croyance à la
loi de causalité). In 1900
Felix Alcan published a work which had
previously appeared in the Revue de Paris, entitled
rire), one of the most important of Bergson's minor productions. This
essay on the meaning of comedy stemmed from a lecture which he had
given in his early days in the Auvergne. The study of it is essential
to an understanding of Bergson's views of life, and its passages
dealing with the place of the artistic in life are valuable. The main
thesis of the work is that laughter is a corrective evolved to make
social life possible for human beings. We laugh at people who fail to
adapt to the demands of society if it seems their failure is akin to
an inflexible mechanism. Comic authors have exploited this human
tendency to laugh in various ways, and what is common to them is the
idea that the comic consists in there being "something mechanical
encrusted on the living".
In 1901 the
Académie des sciences morales et politiques
Académie des sciences morales et politiques elected
Bergson as a member, and he became a member of the Institute. In 1903
he contributed to the
Revue de métaphysique et de morale a very
important essay entitled Introduction to
Metaphysics (Introduction à
la metaphysique), which is useful as a preface to the study of his
three large books. He detailed in this essay his philosophical
program, realized in the Creative Evolution.
On the death of Gabriel Tarde, the sociologist and philosopher, in
1904, Bergson succeeded him in the Chair of Modern Philosophy. From 4
to 8 September of that year he visited Geneva, attending the Second
International Congress of Philosophy, when he lectured on The
Thought: A Philosophical Illusion (Le cerveau et la pensée: une
illusion philosophique). An illness prevented his visiting Germany
from attending the Third Congress held at Heidelberg.
His third major work, Creative Evolution, the most widely known and
most discussed of his books, appeared in 1907. Pierre Imbart de la
Tour remarked that Creative
Evolution was a milestone of new direction
in thought. By 1918, Alcan, the publisher, had issued
twenty-one editions, making an average of two editions per annum for
ten years. Following the appearance of this book, Bergson's popularity
increased enormously, not only in academic circles but among the
general reading public.
At that time, Bergson had already made an extensive study of biology
including the theory of fecundation (as shown in the first chapter of
the Creative Evolution), which had only recently emerged, ca. 1885 –
no small feat for a philosopher specializing in the history of
philosophy, in particular Greek and Roman philosophy. He also most
certainly had read, apart from Darwin, Haeckel, from whom he retained
his idea of a unity of life and of the ecological solidarity between
all living beings, as well as Hugo de Vries, from whom he quoted
his mutation theory of evolution (which he opposed, preferring
Darwin's gradualism). He also quoted Charles-Édouard
Brown-Séquard, the successor of
Claude Bernard at the Chair of
Experimental Medicine in the Collège de France, etc.
Bergson served as a juror with
Florence Meyer Blumenthal in awarding
the Prix Blumenthal, a grant given between 1919 and 1954 to painters,
sculptors, decorators, engravers, writers, and musicians.
Relationship with James and Pragmatism
Bergson traveled to London in 1908 and met there with William James,
Harvard philosopher who was Bergson's senior by seventeen years,
and who was instrumental in calling the attention of the
Anglo-American public to the work of the French professor. The two
became great friends. James's impression of Bergson is given in his
Letters under date of 4 October 1908:
"So modest and unpretending a man but such a genius intellectually! I
have the strongest suspicions that the tendency which he has brought
to a focus, will end by prevailing, and that the present epoch will be
a sort of turning point in the history of philosophy."
As early as 1880, James had contributed an article in French to the
periodical La Critique philosophique, of Renouvier and Pillon,
entitled Le Sentiment de l'Effort. Four years later, a couple of
articles by him appeared in the journal Mind: "What is an Emotion?"
and "On some Omissions of Introspective Psychology". Bergson quoted
the first two of these articles in his 1889 work,
Time and Free Will.
In the following years, 1890–91 appeared the two volumes of James's
monumental work, The Principles of Psychology, in which he refers to a
pathological phenomenon observed by Bergson. Some writers, taking
merely these dates into consideration and overlooking the fact that
James's investigations had been proceeding since 1870 (registered from
time to time by various articles which culminated in "The
Principles"), have mistakenly dated Bergson's ideas as earlier than
It has been suggested[by whom?] that Bergson owes the root ideas of
his first book to the 1884 article by James, "On Some Omissions of
Introspective Psychology," which he neither refers to nor quotes. This
article deals with the conception of thought as a stream of
consciousness, which intellect distorts by framing into concepts.
Bergson replied to this insinuation by denying that he had any
knowledge of the article by James when he wrote Les données
immédiates de la conscience. The two thinkers appear
to have developed independently until almost the close of the century.
They are further apart in their intellectual position than is
frequently supposed. Both have succeeded in appealing to audiences far
beyond the purely academic sphere, but only in their mutual rejection
of "intellectualism" as decisive as their actual agreement. Although
James was slightly ahead in the development and enunciation of his
ideas, he confessed that he was baffled by many of Bergson's notions.
James certainly neglected many of the deeper metaphysical aspects of
Bergson's thought, which did not harmonize with his own, and are even
in direct contradiction. In addition to this, Bergson can hardly be
considered a pragmatist. For him, "utility," far from being a test of
truth, was, in fact, the reverse: a synonym for error.
William James hailed Bergson as an ally. In 1903, he
I have been re-reading Bergson's books, and nothing that I have read
for years has so excited and stimulated my thoughts. I am sure that
his philosophy has a great future; it breaks through old frameworks
and brings things to a solution from which new crystallizations can be
The most noteworthy tributes James paid to Bergson come in the Hibbert
Lectures (A Pluralistic Universe), which James gave at Manchester
College, Oxford, shortly after meeting Bergson in London. He remarks
on the encouragement he gained from Bergson's thought, and refers to
his confidence in being "able to lean on Bergson's authority." (See
further James's reservations about Bergson, below.)
The influence of Bergson had led James "to renounce the
intellectualist method and the current notion that logic is an
adequate measure of what can or cannot be". It had induced him, he
continued, "to give up logic, squarely and irrevocably" as a method,
for he found that "reality, life, experience, concreteness, immediacy,
use what word you will, exceeds our logic, overflows, and surrounds
These remarks, which appeared in James's book A Pluralistic Universe
in 1909, impelled many English and American readers to investigate
Bergson's philosophy for themselves, but no English translations of
Bergson's major work had yet appeared. James, however, encouraged and
assisted Dr. Arthur Mitchell in preparing an English translation of
Creative Evolution. In August 1910, James died. It was his intention,
had he lived to see the translation finished, to introduce it to the
English reading public by a prefatory note of appreciation. In the
following year, the translation was completed and still greater
interest in Bergson and his work was the result. By coincidence, in
that same year (1911), Bergson penned a preface of sixteen pages
Reality for the French translation of James's book,
Pragmatism. In it, he expressed sympathetic appreciation of James's
work, together with certain important reservations.
From 5 to 11 April, Bergson attended the Fourth International Congress
of Philosophy held at Bologna, in Italy, where he gave an address on
"Philosophical Intuition". In response to invitations he visited
England in May of that year, and on several subsequent occasions.
These visits were well received.[by whom?] His speeches offered new
perspectives[which?] and elucidated many passages in his three major
Time and Free Will, Matter and Memory, and Creative Evolution.
Although necessarily brief statements, they developed and enriched the
ideas in his books and clarified for English audiences the fundamental
principles of his philosophy.
Lectures on change
In May 1911 Bergson gave two lectures entitled The
Change (La perception du changement) at the University of Oxford. The
Clarendon Press published these in French in the same year. His
talks were concise and lucid, leading students and the general reader
to his other, longer writings. Oxford later conferred on him the
degree of Doctor of Science.
Two days later he delivered the Huxley Lecture at the University of
Birmingham, taking for his subject Life and Consciousness. This
subsequently appeared in
The Hibbert Journal (October 1911), and since
revised, is the first essay in the collected volume Mind-Energy
(L'Énergie spirituelle). In October he again traveled to England,
where he had an enthusiastic reception, and delivered at University
College London four lectures on La Nature de l'Âme [The nature of the
In 1913 Bergson visited the United States of America at the invitation
of Columbia University, New York, and lectured in several American
cities, where very large audiences welcomed him. In February, at
Columbia University, he lectured both in French and English, taking as
his subjects: Spirituality and Freedom and The Method of Philosophy.
Being again in England in May of the same year, he accepted the
Presidency of the British Society for Psychical Research, and
delivered to the Society an address on Phantoms of Life and Psychic
Research (Fantômes des vivants et recherche psychique).
Meanwhile, his popularity increased, and translations of his works
began to appear in a number of languages: English, German, Italian,
Danish, Swedish, Hungarian, Polish, and Russian. In 1914 Bergson's
fellow-countrymen honoured him by his election as a member of the
Académie française. He was also made President of the Académie des
Sciences morales et politiques, and in addition, he became Officier de
la Légion d'honneur, and Officier de l'Instruction publique.
Bergson found disciples of many types. In France movements such as
neo-Catholicism and Modernism on the one hand and syndicalism on the
other endeavoured to absorb and appropriate for their own ends some
central ideas of his teaching. The continental organ of socialist and
syndicalist theory, Le Mouvement socialiste, portrayed the realism
Karl Marx and
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon as hostile to all forms of
intellectualism, and argued, therefore, that supporters of Marxist
socialism should welcome a philosophy such as that of
Bergson. Other writers, in their eagerness, claimed
that the thought of the holder of the Chair of Philosophy at the
Collège de France, and the aims of the Confédération Générale du
Travail and the
Industrial Workers of the World
Industrial Workers of the World were in essential
While social revolutionaries endeavoured to make the most out of
Bergson, many religious leaders, particularly the more liberal-minded
theologians of all creeds, e.g., the Modernists and Neo-Catholic Party
in his own country, showed a keen interest in his writings, and many
of them found encouragement and stimulus in his work. The Roman
Catholic Church, however, banned Bergson's three books on the charge
of pantheism (that is, of conceiving of God as immanent to his
Creation and of being himself created in the process of the
Creation). They were placed on the Index of prohibited books
(Decree of 1 June 1914).
In 1914 the Scottish universities arranged for Bergson to give the
famous Gifford Lectures, planning one course for the spring and
another for the autumn. Bergson delivered the first course, consisting
of eleven lectures, under the title of The Problem of Personality, at
University of Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh in the spring of that year. The course of
lectures planned for the autumn months had to be abandoned because of
the outbreak of war. Bergson was not, however, silent during the
conflict, and he gave some inspiring addresses. As early as 4 November
1914, he wrote an article entitled Wearing and Nonwearing forces (La
force qui s'use et celle qui ne s'use pas), which appeared in that
unique and interesting periodical of the poilus, Le Bulletin des
Armées de la République Française. A presidential address, The
Meaning of the War, was delivered in December 1914, to the Académie
des sciences morales et politiques.
Bergson contributed also to the publication arranged by The Daily
Telegraph in honour of King Albert I of the Belgians, King Albert's
Book (Christmas, 1914). In 1915 he was succeeded in the office of
President of the Académie des Sciences morales et politiques by
Alexandre Ribot, and then delivered a discourse on "The
German Imperialism". Meanwhile, he found time to issue at the request
of the Minister of Public Instruction a brief summary of French
Philosophy. Bergson did a large amount of traveling and lecturing in
America during the war. He participated in the negotiations which led
to the entry of the United States in the war. He was there when the
French Mission under
René Viviani paid a visit in April and May 1917,
following upon America's entry into the conflict. Viviani's book La
Mission française en Amérique (1917), contains a preface by Bergson.
Early in 1918 the
Académie française received Bergson officially
when he took his seat among "The Select Forty" as successor to Emile
Ollivier (the author of the historical work L'Empire libéral). A
session was held in January in his honour at which he delivered an
address on Ollivier. In the war, Bergson saw the conflict of
Matter, or rather of Life and Mechanism; and thus he shows us the
central idea of his own philosophy in action. To no other philosopher
has it fallen, during his lifetime, to have his philosophical
principles so vividly and so terribly tested.
As many of Bergson's contributions to French periodicals remained
relatively inaccessible, he agreed to the request of his
friends[which?] to have such works collected and published in two
volumes. The first of these was being planned when war broke out. The
conclusion of strife was marked by the appearance of a delayed volume
in 1919. It bears the title Spiritual Energy: Essays and Lectures
(reprinted as Mind-Energy – L'Énergie spirituelle: essais et
conférences). The advocate of Bergson's philosophy in England, Dr.
Wildon Carr, prepared an English translation under the title
Mind-Energy. The volume opens with the Huxley Memorial Lecture of
1911, "Life and Consciousness", in a revised and developed form under
the title "
Consciousness and Life". Signs of Bergson's growing
interest in social ethics and in the idea of a future life of personal
survival are manifested. The lecture before the Society for Psychical
Research is included, as is also the one given in France, L'Âme et le
Corps, which contains the substance of the four London lectures on the
Soul. The seventh and last article is a reprint of Bergson's famous
lecture to the Congress of Philosophy at
Geneva in 1904, The
Psycho-Physiological Paralogism (Le paralogisme psycho-physiologique),
which now appears as Le cerveau et la pensée: une illusion
philosophique. Other articles are on the False Recognition, on Dreams,
and Intellectual Effort. The volume is a most welcome production and
serves to bring together what Bergson wrote on the concept of mental
force, and on his view of "tension" and "detension" as applied to the
relation of matter and mind.
In June 1920, the
University of Cambridge
University of Cambridge honoured him with the degree
of Doctor of Letters. In order that he might devote his full-time to
the great new work he was preparing on ethics, religion, and
Collège de France
Collège de France relieved Bergson of the duties
attached to the Chair of Modern Philosophy there. He retained the
chair, but no longer delivered lectures, his place being taken by his
disciple, the mathematician and philosopher Édouard Le Roy, who
supported a conventionalist stance on the foundations of mathematics,
which was adopted by Bergson. Le Roy, who also succeeded to
Bergson at the
Académie française and was a fervent Catholic,
extended to revealed truth his conventionalism, leading him to
privilege faith, heart and sentiment to dogmas, speculative theology
and abstract reasoning. Like Bergson's, his writings were placed on
the Index by the Vatican.
Debate with Albert Einstein
In the fall of 1922 Bergson's book Durée et simultanéité, a propos
de la theorie d'Einstein (Duration and Simultaneity: Bergson and the
Einsteinian Universe) was published. Earlier in the spring
Einstein had come to the French Society of Philosophy and briefly
replied to a short speech made by Bergson. The book has been often
considered as one of his worst, many alleging that his knowledge of
physics was insufficient, and that the book did not follow up
contemporary developments on physics. (But in "Einstein and the
Crisis of Reason," a leading French philosopher, Maurice
Merleau-Ponty, accused Einstein of failing to grasp Bergson's
argument. This argument, Merleau-Ponty claims, which concerns not the
physics of special relativity but its philosophical foundations,
addresses paradoxes caused by popular interpretations and
misconceptions about the theory, including Einstein's own.) It was
not published in the 1951 Edition du Centenaire in French, which
contained all of his other works, and was only published later in a
work gathering different essays, titled Mélanges. Duration and
simultaneity took advantage of Bergson's experience at the League of
Nations, where he presided starting in 1920 the International
Commission on Intellectual Cooperation (the ancestor of the UNESCO,
which included Einstein, Marie Curie, etc.).
Later years and death
While living with his wife and daughter in a modest house in a quiet
street near the Porte d'Auteuil in Paris, Bergson won the Nobel Prize
for Literature in 1927 for having written The Creative Evolution.
Because of serious rheumatics ailments, he could not travel to
Stockholm, and sent instead a text subsequently published in La
Pensée et le mouvant. He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1928.
After his retirement from the Collège, Bergson began to fade into
obscurity: he suffered from a degenerative illness (rheumatism, which
left him half paralyzed). He completed his new work, The Two
Sources of Morality and Religion, which extended his philosophical
theories to the realms of morality, religion, and art, in 1935. It was
respectfully received by the public and the philosophical community,
but all by that time realized that Bergson's days as a philosophical
luminary were passed. He was, however, able to reiterate his core
beliefs near the end of his life, by renouncing all of the posts and
honours previously awarded him, rather than accept exemption from the
antisemitic laws imposed by the Vichy government.
Bergson inclined to convert to Catholicism, writing in his will on 7
February 1937: My thinking has always brought me nearer to
Catholicism, in which I saw the perfect complement to Judaism.
Though wishing to convert to Catholicism, as stated in his will, he
did not convert in view of the travails inflicted on the Jewish people
by the rise of
Nazism and anti-Semitism in Europe in the 1930s; he did
not want to appear to want to leave the persecuted. On 3 January 1941
Bergson died in occupied Paris from bronchitis. A Roman Catholic
priest said prayers at his funeral per his request. Bergson is buried
in the Cimetière de Garches, Hauts-de-Seine.
Bergson rejected what he saw as the overly mechanistic predominant
view of causality (as expressed in, say, finalism). He argued that we
must allow space for free will to unfold in an autonomous and
unpredictable fashion. While Kant saw free will as something beyond
time and space and therefore ultimately a matter of faith, Bergson
attempted to redefine the modern conceptions of time, space, and
causality in his concept of Duration, making room for a tangible
marriage of free will with causality. Seeing Duration as a mobile and
fluid concept, Bergson argued that one cannot understand Duration
through "immobile" analysis, but only through experiential,
first-person intuition.
Bergson considers the appearance of novelty as a result of pure
undetermined creation, instead of as the predetermined result of
mechanistic forces. His philosophy emphasises pure mobility,
unforeseeable novelty, creativity and freedom; thus one can
characterize his system as a process philosophy. It touches upon such
topics as time and identity, free will, perception, change, memory,
consciousness, language, the foundation of mathematics and the limits
Criticizing Kant's theory of knowledge exposed in the Critique of Pure
Reason and his conception of truth – which he compares to Plato's
conception of truth as its symmetrical inversion (order of
nature/order of thought) – Bergson attempted to redefine the
relations between science and metaphysics, intelligence and intuition,
and insisted on the necessity of increasing thought's possibility
through the use of intuition, which, according to him, alone
approached a knowledge of the absolute and of real life, understood as
pure duration. Because of his (relative) criticism of intelligence, he
makes a frequent use of images and metaphors in his writings in order
to avoid the use of concepts, which (he considers) fail to touch the
whole of reality, being only a sort of abstract net thrown on things.
For instance, he says in The Creative
Evolution (chap. III) that
thought in itself would never have thought it possible for the human
being to swim, as it cannot deduce swimming from walking. For swimming
to be possible, man must throw itself in water, and only then can
thought consider swimming as possible. Intelligence, for Bergson, is a
practical faculty rather than a pure speculative faculty, a product of
evolution used by man to survive. If metaphysics is to avoid "false
problems", it should not extend the abstract concepts of intelligence
to pure speculation, but rather use intuition.
Evolution in particular attempted to think through the
continuous creation of life, and explicitly pitted itself against
Herbert Spencer's evolutionary philosophy. Spencer had attempted to
transpose Charles Darwin's theory of evolution in philosophy and to
construct a cosmology based on this theory (Spencer also coined the
expression "survival of the fittest"). Bergson disputed what he saw as
Spencer's mechanistic philosophy.
Lebensphilosophie (philosophy of life) can be seen as a
response to the mechanistic philosophies of his time, but also to
the failure of finalism. Indeed, he considers that finalism is
unable to explain "duration" and the "continuous creation of life", as
it only explains life as the progressive development of an initially
determined program – a notion which remains, for example, in the
expression of a "genetic program"; such a description of finalism
was adopted, for instance, by Leibniz. It clearly announces Alfred
Bergson regarded planning beforehand for the future as impossible,
since time itself unravels unforeseen possibilities. Indeed, one could
always explain a historical event retrospectively by its conditions of
possibility. But, in the introduction to the Pensée et le mouvant, he
explains that such an event created retrospectively its causes, taking
the example of the creation of a work of art, for example a symphony:
it was impossible to predict what would be the symphony of the future,
as if the musician knew what symphony would be the best for his time,
he would realize it. In his words, the effect created its cause.
Henceforth, he attempted to find a third way between mechanism and
finalism, through the notion of an original impulse, the élan vital,
in life, which dispersed itself through evolution into contradictory
tendencies (he substituted to the finalist notion of a teleological
aim a notion of an original impulse).
See also: Duration (philosophy)
The foundation of Henri Bergson's philosophy, his theory of Duration,
he discovered when trying to improve the inadequacies of Herbert
Spencer's philosophy. Bergson introduced Duration as a theory of
time and consciousness in his doctoral thesis
Time and Free Will: An
Essay on the Immediate Data of
Consciousness as a response to another
of his influences: Immanuel Kant.
Kant believed that free will (better perceived as The Will) could only
exist outside of time and space, indeed the only non-determined aspect
of our private existence in the universe, separate to water cycles,
mathematics and mortality. However, we could therefore not know
whether or not it exists, and that it is nothing but a pragmatic
faith. Bergson responded that Kant, along with many other
philosophers, had confused time with its spatial representation.
In reality, Bergson argued, Duration is unextended yet heterogeneous,
and so its parts cannot be juxtaposed as a succession of distinct
parts, with one causing the other. Based on this he concluded that
determinism is an impossibility and free will pure mobility, which is
what Bergson identified as being the Duration.
Duration, as defined by Bergson, then is a unity and a multiplicity,
but, being mobile, it cannot be grasped through immobile concepts.
Bergson hence argues that one can grasp it only through his method of
intuition. Two images from Henri Bergson's An Introduction to
Metaphysics may help one to grasp Bergson's term intuition, the limits
of concepts, and the ability of intuition to grasp the absolute. The
first image is that of a city. Analysis, or the creation of concepts
through the divisions of points of view, can only ever give us a model
of the city through a construction of photographs taken from every
possible point of view, yet it can never give us the dimensional value
of walking in the city itself. One can only grasp this through
intuition; likewise the experience of reading a line of Homer. One may
translate the line and pile commentary upon commentary, but this
commentary too shall never grasp the simple dimensional value of
experiencing the poem in its originality itself. The method of
intuition, then, is that of getting back to the things themselves.
See also: Élan vital
Élan vital ranks as Bergson's third essential concept, after Duration
and intuition. An idea with the goal of explaining evolution, the
élan vital first appeared in 1907's Creative Evolution. Bergson
portrays élan vital as a kind of vital impetus which explains
evolution in a less mechanical and more lively manner, as well as
accounting for the creative impulse of mankind. This concept led
several authors to characterize Bergson as a supporter of
vitalism—although he criticized it explicitly in The Creative
Evolution, as he thought, against Driesch and
Johannes Reinke (whom he
cited) that there is neither "purely internal finality nor clearly cut
individuality in nature":
Hereby lies the stumbling block of vitalist theories (...) It is thus
in vain that one pretends to reduce finality to the individuality of
the living being. If there is finality in the world of life, it
encompasses the whole of life in one indivisible embrace.
In Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic, Bergson develops a
theory not of laughter itself but of how laughter can be provoked (see
his objection to Delage, published in the 23rd edition of the
essay). He describes the process of laughter (refusing to give a
conceptual definition which would not approach its reality), used
in particular by comics and clowns, as caricature of the mechanistic
nature of humans (habits, automatic acts, etc.), one of the two
tendencies of life (degradation towards inert matter and mechanism,
and continual creation of new forms). However, Bergson warns us
that laughter's criterion of what should be laughed at is not a moral
criterion and that it can in fact cause serious damage to a person's
self-esteem. This essay made his opposition to the Cartesian
theory of the animal-machine obvious.
From his first publications, Bergson's philosophy attracted strong
criticism from different quarters, although he also became very
popular and durably influenced French philosophy. The mathematician
Édouard Le Roy became Bergson's main disciple. Nonetheless, Suzanne
Guerlac has argued that his institutional position at the Collège de
France, delivering lectures to a general audience, may have retarded
the systematic reception of his thought: "Bergson achieved enormous
popular success in this context, often due to the emotional appeal of
his ideas. But he did not have the equivalent of graduate students who
might have become rigorous interpreters of his thought. Thus Bergson's
philosophy—in principle open and nonsystematic—was easily borrowed
piecemeal and altered by enthusiastic admirers".
Alfred North Whitehead
Alfred North Whitehead acknowledged Bergson's influence on his process
philosophy in his 1929 Process and Reality. However, Bertrand
Russell, Whitehead's collaborator on Principia Mathematica, was not so
entranced by Bergson's philosophy. Although acknowledging Bergson's
literary skills, Russell saw Bergson's arguments at best as persuasive
or emotive speculation but not at all as any worthwhile example of
sound reasoning or philosophical insight. The epistemologist
Gaston Bachelard explicitly alluded to him in the last pages of his
1938 book The Formation of the Scientific Mind. Others influenced by
Bergson include Vladimir Jankélévitch, who wrote a book on him in
1931, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and
Gilles Deleuze who wrote Le
bergsonisme in 1966. Bergson also influenced the phenomenology of
Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Emmanuel Levinas, although Merleau-Ponty
had reservations about Bergson's philosophy. The Greek author
Nikos Kazantzakis studied under Bergson in Paris and his writing and
philosophy were profoundly influenced as a result.
Many writers of the early 20th century criticized Bergson's
intuitionism, indeterminism, psychologism and interpretation of the
scientific impulse. Those who explicitly criticized Bergson, either in
published articles or in letters, included Bertrand Russell George
Santayana, G. E. Moore, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Martin Heidegger,
Julien Benda, T. S. Eliot, Wyndham Lewis, Wallace Stevens,
Paul Valéry, André Gide, Jean Piaget, Marxist philosophers
Theodor W. Adorno, Lucio Colletti, Jean-Paul Sartre, and
Georges Politzer, as well as Maurice Blanchot, American
philosophers such as Irving Babbitt, Arthur Lovejoy, Josiah Royce, The
New Realists (Ralph B. Perry, E. B. Holt, and William Pepperell
Montague), The Critical Realists (Durant Drake, Roy W. Sellars, C. A.
Strong, and A. K. Rogers), Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler,
Roger Fry (see his
Julian Huxley (in Evolution: The Modern Synthesis) and
Virginia Woolf (for the latter, see Ann Banfield, The Phantom
The Vatican accused Bergson of pantheism, while free-thinkers[who?]
(who formed a large part of the teachers and professors of the French
Third Republic) accused him of spiritualism. Still others have
characterized his philosophy as a materialist emergentism – Samuel
C. Lloyd Morgan
C. Lloyd Morgan explicitly claimed Bergson as their
forebear. According to Henri Hude (1990, II, p. 142), who
supports himself on the whole of Bergson's works as well as his now
published courses, accusing him of pantheism is a "counter-sense".
Hude alleges that a mystical experience, roughly outlined at the end
of Les Deux sources de la morale et de la religion, is the inner
principle of his whole philosophy, although this has been contested by
Charles Sanders Peirce
Charles Sanders Peirce took strong exception to those who associated
him with Bergson. In response to a letter comparing his work with that
of Bergson he wrote, "a man who seeks to further science can hardly
commit a greater sin than to use the terms of his science without
anxious care to use them with strict accuracy; it is not very
gratifying to my feelings to be classed along with a Bergson who seems
to be doing his utmost to muddle all distinctions." William James's
students resisted the assimilation of his work to that of Bergson.
See, for example, Horace Kallen's book on the subject James and
Jean Wahl described the "ultimate disagreement" between
James and Bergson in his System of Metaphysics: "for James, the
consideration of action is necessary for the definition of truth,
according to Bergson, action...must be kept from our mind if we want
to see the truth"[page needed]. Gide even went so far as to say
that future historians will overestimate Bergson's influence on art
and philosophy just because he was the self-appointed spokesman for
"the spirit of the age".
As early as the 1890s, Santayana attacked certain key concepts in
Bergson's philosophy, above all his view of the New and the
the possibility of a new and unaccountable fact appearing at any
time,” he writes in his book on Hermann Lotze, "does not practically
affect the method of investigation;...the only thing given up is the
hope that these hypotheses may ever be adequate to the reality and
cover the process of nature without leaving a remainder. This is no
great renunciation; for that consummation of science...is by no one
According to Santayana and Russell, Bergson projected false claims
onto the aspirations of scientific method, claims which Bergson needed
to make in order to justify his prior moral commitment to freedom.
Russell takes particular exception to Bergson's understanding of
number in chapter two of
Time and Free-will. According to Russell,
Bergson uses an outmoded spatial metaphor ("extended images") to
describe the nature of mathematics as well as logic in general.
"Bergson only succeeds in making his theory of number possible by
confusing a particular collection with the number of its terms, and
this again with number in general", writes Russell (see The Philosophy
of Bergson[page needed] and A History of Western
Furthermore, writers such as Russell, Wittgenstein, and James saw
élan vital as a projection of subjectivity onto the world. The
external world, according to certain[which?] theories of probability,
provides less and less indeterminism with further refinement of
scientific method. In brief, one should not confuse the moral,
psychological, subjective demand for the new, the underivable and the
unexplained with the universe. One's subjective sense
of duration differs the (non-human) world, a difference which,
according to the ancient materialist
Lucretius should not be
characterized as either one of becoming or being, creation or
destruction (De Rerum Natura).
Suzanne Guerlac has argued that the more recent resurgence of
scholarly interest in Bergson is related to the growing influence of
Deleuze within continental philosophy: "If there is a
return to Bergson today, then, it is largely due to Gilles Deleuze
whose own work has etched the contours of the New Bergson. This is not
Deleuze wrote about Bergson; it is also because Deleuze's
own thought is deeply engaged with that of his predecessor, even when
Bergson is not explicitly mentioned."
Leonard Lawlor and Valentine
Moulard agree with Guerlac that "the recent revitalization of
Bergsonism [...] is almost entirely due to Deleuze." They explain that
Bergson's concept of multiplicity "is at the very heart of Deleuze's
thought, and duration is the model for all of Deleuze's 'becomings.'
The other aspect that attracted Deleuze, which is indeed connected to
the first, is Bergson's criticism of the concept of negation in
Creative Evolution. [...] Thus Bergson became a resource in the
criticism of the Hegelian dialectic, the negative."
Comparison to Eastern philosophies
Hindu authors have found parallels to
Hindu philosophy in
Bergson's thought. The integrative evolutionism of Sri Aurobindo, an
Indian philosopher from the early 20th century, has many similarities
to Bergson's philosophy. Whether this represents a direct influence of
Bergson is disputed, although Aurobindo was familiar with many Western
philosophers. K Narayanaswami Aiyer, a member of the Theosophical
Society, published a pamphlet titled "Professor Bergson and the Hindu
Vedanta", where he argued that Bergson's ideas on matter,
consciousness, and evolution were in agreement with Vedantic and
Puranic explanations. Nalini Kanta Brahma, Marie Tudor Garland and
Hope Fitz are other authors who have comparatively evaluated
Bergsonian philosophies, especially in relation to intuition,
consciousness and evolution.
Bergson, H.; The Philosophy of Poetry: The Genius of
Philosophie de la Poesie: le Génie de Lucrèce, 1884), Philosophical
Library 1959: ISBN 978-1-4976-7566-7
Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of
Consciousness (Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience,
1889). Allen & Unwin 1910, Dover Publications 2001:
ISBN 0-486-41767-0 – Bergson's doctoral dissertation.
Matter and Memory (Matière et mémoire, 1896). Swan
Sonnenschein 1911, Zone Books 1990: ISBN 0-942299-05-1, Dover
Publications 2004: ISBN 0-486-43415-X.
Bergson, H.; Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic (Le rire,
1900). Green Integer 1998: ISBN 1-892295-02-4, Dover Publications
2005: ISBN 0-486-44380-9.
Bergson, H.; Creative
Evolution (L'Évolution créatrice, 1907). Henry
Holt and Company 1911, University Press of America 1983:
ISBN 0-8191-3553-4, Dover Publications 1998:
ISBN 0-486-40036-0, Kessinger Publishing 2003:
ISBN 0-7661-4732-0, Cosimo 2005: ISBN 1-59605-309-7.
Bergson, H.; Mind-energy (L'Énergie spirituelle, 1919). McMillan
1920. – a collection of essays and lectures. On Archive.org.
Bergson, H.; Duration and Simultaneity: Bergson and the Einsteinian
Universe (Durée et simultanéité, 1922). Clinamen Press Ltd 1999.
Bergson, H.; The Two Sources of Morality and Religion (Les Deux
Sources de la Morale et de la Religion, 1932). University of Notre
Dame Press 1977. ISBN 0-268-01835-9. On Archive.org.
Bergson, H.; The Creative Mind: An Introduction to
Pensée et le mouvant, 1934). Citadel Press 1946:
ISBN 0-8065-2326-3 – essay collection, sequel to Mind-Energy,
including 1903's "An Introduction to Metaphysics."
Philosophy of biology
List of Jewish Nobel laureates
^ John Ó Maoilearca, Beth Lord (eds.), The Continuum Companion to
Continental Philosophy, Bloomsbury Academic, 2009, p. 204.
^ Hancock, Curtis L. (May 1995). "The Influence of
Berson's Critique of Empirical Science". In R. Baine Harris.
Neoplatonism and Contemporary Thought. Congress of the International
Society for Neoplatonic Studies held in May 1995 at Vanderbilt
University. 10. International Society for Neoplatonic Studies. Albany:
State University of New York Press. p. 139ff.
ISBN 978-0-7914-5275-2. Retrieved 10 May 2010. That the
Henri Bergson is significantly influenced by the
Plotinus is indicated by the many years Bergson devoted
Plotinus and the many parallels in their respective
philosophies. This influence has been discussed at some length by
Bergson's contemporaries, such as Emile Bréhier and Rose-Marie
^ R. William Rauch, Politics and Belief in Contemporary France:
Emmanuel Mounier and Christian Democracy, 1932–1950, Springer, 2012,
^ Merquior, J.G. (1987). Foucault (Fontana Modern Masters series),
University of California Press, ISBN 0-520-06062-8.
^ "The Nobel prize in Literature". Retrieved 15 November 2010.
^ Robert C. Grogin, The Bergsonian Controversy in France, 1900-1914,
Univ of Calgary Press (May 1988), ISBN 0919813305
^ Gelber, Nathan Michael (1 January 2007). "Bergson". Encyclopaedia
Judaica. Retrieved 7 December 2015. (Subscription required
^ Dynner, Glenn (2008). Men of Silk: The Hasidic Conquest of Polish
Jewish Society. Oxford University Press. pp. 104–105.
^ Henri Bergson. 2014. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 13
August 2014, from
^ "Z ziemi polskiej do Nobla" [From the Polish lands to the Nobel
Prize]. Wprost (in Polish). Warsaw: Agencja Wydawniczo-Reklamowa
Wprost. 4 January 2008. Retrieved 10 May 2010. Polskie korzenie ma
Henri Bergson, jeden z najwybitniejszych pisarzy, fizyk i filozof
francuski żydowskiego pochodzenia. Jego ojcem był
Michał Bergson z
Warszawy, prawnuk Szmula Jakubowicza Sonnenberga, zwanego Zbytkowerem
(1756–1801), żydowskiego kupca i bankiera. [Translation: Henri
Bergson, one of the greatest French writers, physicists and
philosophers of Jewish ancestry, had Polish roots. His father was
Michael Bergson from Warsaw, the great-grandson of Szmul Jakubowicz
Sonnenberg – known as Zbytkower – (1756–1801), a Jewish merchant
^ Testament starozakonnego Berka Szmula Sonnenberga z 1818 roku
Archived 28 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Suzanne Guerlac, Thinking in Time: An Introduction to Henri Bergson,
Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2007, p. 9.
^ Lawlor, Leonard and Moulard Leonard, Valentine, "Henri Bergson", The
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2016 Edition), Edward N.
Zalta (ed.), URL =
^ Henri Hude, Bergson, Paris, Editions Universitaires, 1990, 2
volumes, quoted by Anne Fagot-Largeau in her 21 December 2006 course
at the College of France
^ "Nouvelles Annales de Mathématiques". 2 (17). Paris. 1878: 268.
Retrieved 15 March 2018.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Anne Fagot-Largeau, 21
December 2006 course Archived 6 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
College of France
College of France (audio file of the course)
^ Henri Bergson: Key Writings, ed. Keith Ansell Pearson and John
Mullarkey. London: Continuum, 2002, p. ix.
^ p. 39
^ Seth Benedict Graham A CULTURAL ANALYSIS OF THE RUSSO-SOVIET
ANEKDOT, 2003, p. 2
^ "Florence Meyer Blumenthal". Jewish Women's Archive, Michele
^ Bergson and his philosophy Chapter 1: Life of Bergson
^ Bergson, Henri (1911). La perception du changement; conférences
faites à l'Université d'Oxford les 26 et 27 mai 1911 [The perception
of change: lectures delivered at the
University of Oxford
University of Oxford on 26 and 27
May 1911] (in French). Oxford: Clarendon. p. 37.
^ Reberioux, M. (January–March 1964). "La gauche socialiste
française: La Guerre Sociale et Le Mouvement Socialiste face au
problème colonial" [French right-wing socialism: La Guerre Sociale
and Le Mouvement Socialiste in the face of the colonial problem]. Le
Mouvement social (in French). Editions l'Atelier/Association Le
Mouvement Social (46): 91–103. JSTOR 3777267. [...] deux
organes, d'ailleurs si dissembables, ou s'exprime l'extrême-gauche du
courant socialiste français: le Mouvement socialiste d'Hubert
Lagardelle et la Guerre sociale de Gustave Hervé. Jeune publications
– le Mouvement socialiste est fondé en janvier 1899, la Guerre
sociale en décembre 1906 –, dirigées par de jeunes équipes qui
faisaient profession de rejeter le chauvinisme, d'être attentives au
nouveau et de ne pas reculer devant les prises de position les plus
^ King Albert's book: a tribute to the Belgian king and people from
representative men and women throughout the world. London: The Daily
Telegraph. 1914. p. 187.
^ See Chapter III of The Creative Evolution
^ Canales J., The Physicist and the Philosopher: Einstein, Bergson and
the Debate That Changed Our
Understanding of Time, Princeton,
Princeton Press, 2015.
^ Minutes of the meeting:Séance du 6 Avril 1922
^ Signs, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, trans. Richard C. McCleary,
Northwestern Univ. Press, 1964.
^ Einstein, Bergson and the Experiment that Failed: Intellectual
Cooperation at the League of Nations
^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of
Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 16 June 2011.
^ Quoted in: Zolli, Eugenio (2008) . Before the Dawn. Ignatius
Press. p. 89. ISBN 978-1-58617-287-9.
Henri Bergson – Philosopher – Biography". www.egs.edu. 3
January 1941. Archived from the original on 27 May 2010. Retrieved 17
^ Bergson explores these topics in
Time and Free Will: An Essay on the
Immediate Data of Consciousness, in Matter and Memory, in Creative
Evolution, and in The Creative Mind: An Introduction to Metaphysics.
^ Elie During, « Fantômes de problèmes », published by
the Centre International d'Etudes de la Philosophie Française
Contemporaine (short version first published in Le magazine
littéraire, n°386, April 2000 (issue dedicated to Bergson)
^ The Creative Mind: An Introduction to Metaphysics, pages 11 to 14
^ a b Henri Bergson, The Creative Mind: An Introduction to
Metaphysics, pages 11 to 13.
^ a b The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "Henri Bergson": "'Time
and Free Will' has to be seen as an attack on Kant, for whom freedom
belongs to a realm outside of space and time."
^ Henri Bergson,
Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of
Consciousness, Author's Preface.
^ The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "Henri Bergson": "For
Bergson – and perhaps this is his greatest insight – freedom is
^ Henri Bergson, The Creative Mind: An Introduction to Metaphysics,
pages 160 to 161. For a Whiteheadian use of Bergsonian intuition, see
Michel Weber's Whitehead’s Pancreativism. The Basics. Foreword by
Nicholas Rescher, Frankfurt / Paris, Ontos Verlag, 2006.
^ L'Évolution créatrice, pp. 42–44; pp. 226–227
^ L'Évolution créatrice, pp. 42–43
^ Henri Bergson's theory of laughter. A brief summary.
^ Suzanne Guerlac, Thinking in Time: An Introduction to Henri Bergson,
Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2006, p. 10
^ Cf. Ronny Desmet and
Michel Weber (edited by), Whitehead. The
Algebra of Metaphysics. Applied Process
Metaphysics Summer Institute
Memorandum, Louvain-la-Neuve, Éditions Chromatika, 2010 & Michel
Weber, Whitehead’s Pancreativism. The Basics. Foreword by Nicholas
Rescher, Frankfurt / Paris, ontos verlag, 2006.
^ Russell, B.; "The Philosophy of Bergson,"
The Monist 1912 vol. 22
^ entitled Henri Bergson.
^ transl. 1988.
^ Dermot Moran, Introduction to Phenomenology, 2000, pp. 322 and 393.
^ Merleau-Ponty, Maurice (2001). Bjelland, Andrew G.; Burke, Patrick,
eds. The incarnate subject : Malebranche, Biran, and Bergson on
the union of body and soul. preface by Jacques Taminiaux ;
translation by Paul B. Milan. Amherst, N.Y.: Humanity Books.
p. 152. ISBN 1-57392-915-8.
^ Peter Bien, Three Generations of Greek Writers, Published by
Efstathiadis Group, Athens, 1983
^ see his short book Russell, Bertrand (1977). The philosophy of
Bergson. Folcroft, Pa.: Folcroft Library Editions. p. 36.
ISBN 0-8414-7371-4. on the subject).
^ see his study on the author in "Winds of Doctrine"
Being and Time, esp. sections 5, 10, and 82.
^ see his two books on the subject
^ Wyndham Lewis,
Time and Western Man (1927), ed. Paul Edwards, Santa
Rosa, CA: Black Sparrow, 1993.
^ "The Irrational Element in Poetry." 1936. Opus Posthumous. 1957. Ed.
Milton J. Bates. New York: Random House, 1990.
^ see his book Insights and Illusions of Philosophy 1972
^ see "Against Epistemology"
^ see "
Hegel and Marxism"
^ see his early book Imagination – although Sartre also appropriated
himself Bergsonian thesis on novelty as pure creation – see
Situations I Gallimard 1947, p. 314
^ see the latter's two books on the subject: Le Bergsonisme, une
Mystification Philosophique and La fin d'une parade philosophique: le
Bergsonisme both of which had a tremendous effect on French
^ see Bergson and Symbolism
^ Suzanne Guerlac, Thinking in Time: An Introduction to Henri Bergson,
Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2006, p. 175.
Leonard Lawlor and Valentine Moulard (12 July 2011) [18 May 2004],
"The revitalization of Bergsonism", Henri Bergson, Stanford
Encyclopedia of Philosophy, retrieved 20 August 2012
^ K Mackenzie Brown. "
Hindu perspectives on evolution: Darwin, Dharma,
and Design". Routledge, Jan 2012. Page 164-166
^ KN Aiyer. "Professor Bergson and the
Hindu Vedanta". Vasanta Press.
1910. Pages 36 – 37.
^ Marie Tudor Garland. "
Mind Training". Longmans, Green and
Company, 1917. Page 20.
^ Nalini Kanta Brahma. "Philosophy of
Hindu Sadhana". PHI Learning
Private Ltd 2008.
^ Hope K Fitz. "Intuition: Its nature and uses in human experience."
Motilal Banarsidass publishers 2000. Pages 22–30.
Ansell-Pearson, Keith. Philosophy and the Adventure of the Virtual:
Bergson and the
Time of Life. London: Routledge, 2002.
Bachelard, Gaston. The Dialectic of Duration. Trans. Mary Mcallester
Jones. Manchester: Clinamen Press, 2000.
Bianco, Giuseppe. Après Bergson. Portrait de groupe avec philosophe.
Paris, PUF, 2015.
Canales, Jimena. The Physicist and the Philosopher: Einstein, Bergson
and the Debate That Changed Our
Understanding of Time. Princeton,
Princeton Press, 2015.
Deleuze, Gilles. Bergsonism. Trans.
Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara
Habberjam. New York: Zone Books, 1988.
Deleuze, Gilles. Cinema 1: The Movement-Image. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson
and Barbara Habberjam. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,
Deleuze, Gilles. Cinema 2: The Time-Image. Trans.
Hugh Tomlinson and
Robert Galeta. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989.
Fradet, Pierre-Alexandre, Derrida-Bergson. Sur l'immédiateté,
Hermann, Paris, coll. "Hermann Philosophie", 2014.
Grosz, Elizabeth. The Nick of Time: Politics, Evolution, and the
Untimely. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004.
Guerlac, Suzanne. Thinking in Time: An Introduction to Henri Bergson.
Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2006.
Horkheimer, Max. "On Bergson's
Metaphysics of Time." Trans. Peter
Thomas, revised by Stewart Martin. Radical Philosophy 131 (2005)
James, William. "Bergson and his Critique of Intellectualism." In A
Pluralistic Universe. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1996.
Lawlor, Leonard. The Challenge of Bergsonism: Phenomenology, Ontology,
Ethics. London: Continuum Press, 2003.
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. "Bergson." In In Praise of Philosophy and
Other Essays. Trans. John O'Neill. Evanston, IL: Northwestern
University Press, 1963. 9–32.
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. "Bergson in the Making." In Signs. Trans.
Richard McCleary. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1964.
Mullarkey, John. "Bergson and Philosophy." Edinburgh University Press,
Mullarkey, John, ed. The New Bergson. Manchester and New York:
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Russell, Bertrand "The Philosophy of Bergson".
The Monist 22 (1912):
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Philosophy of psychology
Philosophy of self
Philosophy of space and time
Philosophy of language
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Wilhelm von Humboldt
Ferdinand de Saussure
Benjamin Lee Whorf
J. L. Austin
A. J. Ayer
G. E. M. Anscombe
P. F. Strawson
Willard Van Orman Quine
Causal theory of reference
Contrast theory of meaning
Descriptivist theory of names
Direct reference theory
Mediated reference theory
Theory of descriptions
Principle of compositionality
Sense and reference
Philosophy of information
Philosophy of mind
Concept and object
Hard problem of consciousness
Language of thought
Problem of other minds
Philosophy of artificial intelligence / information /
perception / self
Académie française seat 7
Jean Chapelain (1634)
Isaac de Benserade
Isaac de Benserade (1674)
Étienne Pavillon (1691)
Fabio Brulart de Sillery
Fabio Brulart de Sillery (1705)
Henri-Jacques Nompar de Caumont, duc de La Force (1715)
Jean-Baptiste de Mirabaud (1726)
Claude-Henri Watelet (1760)
Michel-Jean Sedaine (1786)
Collin d'Harleville (1803)
Pierre Antoine Noël Bruno, comte Daru
Pierre Antoine Noël Bruno, comte Daru (1806)
Alphonse de Lamartine
Alphonse de Lamartine (1829)
Émile Ollivier (1870)
Henri Bergson (1914)
Édouard Le Roy (1945)
Henri Petiot (Daniel-Rops) (1955)
Pierre-Henri Simon (1966)
André Roussin (1973)
Jacqueline de Romilly
Jacqueline de Romilly (1988)
Jules A. Hoffmann (2012)
Laureates of the Nobel Prize in Literature
1901 Sully Prudhomme
1902 Theodor Mommsen
1903 Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson
Frédéric Mistral / José Echegaray
1905 Henryk Sienkiewicz
1906 Giosuè Carducci
1907 Rudyard Kipling
1908 Rudolf Eucken
1909 Selma Lagerlöf
1910 Paul Heyse
1911 Maurice Maeterlinck
1912 Gerhart Hauptmann
1913 Rabindranath Tagore
1915 Romain Rolland
1916 Verner von Heidenstam
1917 Karl Gjellerup / Henrik Pontoppidan
1919 Carl Spitteler
1920 Knut Hamsun
1921 Anatole France
1922 Jacinto Benavente
1923 W. B. Yeats
1924 Władysław Reymont
1925 George Bernard Shaw
1926 Grazia Deledda
1927 Henri Bergson
1928 Sigrid Undset
1929 Thomas Mann
1930 Sinclair Lewis
1931 Erik Axel Karlfeldt
1932 John Galsworthy
1933 Ivan Bunin
1934 Luigi Pirandello
1936 Eugene O'Neill
1937 Roger Martin du Gard
1938 Pearl S. Buck
1939 Frans Eemil Sillanpää
1944 Johannes V. Jensen
1945 Gabriela Mistral
1946 Hermann Hesse
1947 André Gide
1948 T. S. Eliot
1949 William Faulkner
1950 Bertrand Russell
1951 Pär Lagerkvist
1952 François Mauriac
1953 Winston Churchill
1954 Ernest Hemingway
1955 Halldór Laxness
1956 Juan Ramón Jiménez
1957 Albert Camus
1958 Boris Pasternak
1959 Salvatore Quasimodo
1960 Saint-John Perse
1961 Ivo Andrić
1962 John Steinbeck
1963 Giorgos Seferis
Jean-Paul Sartre (declined award)
1965 Mikhail Sholokhov
Shmuel Yosef Agnon
Shmuel Yosef Agnon / Nelly Sachs
1967 Miguel Ángel Asturias
1968 Yasunari Kawabata
1969 Samuel Beckett
1970 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
1971 Pablo Neruda
1972 Heinrich Böll
1973 Patrick White
Eyvind Johnson / Harry Martinson
1975 Eugenio Montale
1976 Saul Bellow
1977 Vicente Aleixandre
1978 Isaac Bashevis Singer
1979 Odysseas Elytis
1980 Czesław Miłosz
1981 Elias Canetti
1982 Gabriel García Márquez
1983 William Golding
1984 Jaroslav Seifert
1985 Claude Simon
1986 Wole Soyinka
1987 Joseph Brodsky
1988 Naguib Mahfouz
1989 Camilo José Cela
1990 Octavio Paz
1991 Nadine Gordimer
1992 Derek Walcott
1993 Toni Morrison
1994 Kenzaburō Ōe
1995 Seamus Heaney
1996 Wisława Szymborska
1997 Dario Fo
1998 José Saramago
1999 Günter Grass
2000 Gao Xingjian
2001 V. S. Naipaul
2002 Imre Kertész
2003 J. M. Coetzee
2004 Elfriede Jelinek
2005 Harold Pinter
2006 Orhan Pamuk
2007 Doris Lessing
2008 J. M. G. Le Clézio
2009 Herta Müller
2010 Mario Vargas Llosa
2011 Tomas Tranströmer
2012 Mo Yan
2013 Alice Munro
2014 Patrick Modiano
2015 Svetlana Alexievich
2016 Bob Dylan
2017 Kazuo Ishiguro
Works of Henri Bergson
Time and Free Will
Matter and Memory
ISNI: 0000 0001 2135 5394
BNF: cb11891433v (data)