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Bergson, Henri (1859–1941)

Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


French philosopher, born in Paris, Professor at the Collège de France from 1900 to 1921, the recipient of the 1927 Noble Prize for literature. For Bergson, whereas science is based on intellect and concerns the inert physical world, metaphysics is based on intuition and concerns spirit. In his Time and Free Will (1889), Bergson distinguished between the scientific concept of spatialized time and continuous duration, the time of direct experience. He used duration to criticize mechanism and determinism and to explain the nature of human freedom. In Creative Evolution (1907), he combined Darwin's theory of evolution, Plotinus, and traditional French vitalism, holding that there is a creative impetus of life ( élan vital ) that underlies and determines the whole evolutionary process to make the world dynamic rather than static. Bergson believed that his views explained the dominant features of evolution better than Darwin's theory of natural selection. Other major works include Matter and Memory (1896) and Two Sources of Morality and Religion (1932). ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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