1927 : Henri Bergson

1927 : Henri Bergson

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“in recognition of his rich and vitalizing ideas and the brillant skill with which they have been presented”



October 18, 1859

Place of birth


Paris, France



January 4, 1941

Place of death


Paris, France







Notable award(s)


Nobel Prize in Literature 1927


The French philosopher published four major books: first in 1889, the test data on the immediate consciousness, then Matter and memory in 1896, then Creative Evolution in 1907, and The Two Sources of Morality and of religion in 1932. Henri Bergson gives the impression of having lived the quiet life without surprises and a professor of philosophy. Although it has always been of great discretion, he played an important role in terms of international politics. His participation in the establishment of the international intellectual cooperation, the forerunner of UNESCO in 1921 may illustrate the importance attached to education to promote international peace. But his participation in the creation of the League of Nations when he was the delegate of France to negotiate with the United States and President Woodrow Wilson that they interposed against the triplice at the First World War. In 2008, it could not determine any influence that Bergson has had on the 14 resolutions proposed by Wilson to create a government body to prevent international armed conflict. His book The Two Sources of Morality and Religion explores the philosophical point of view, the causes of war and ways to mitigate them. Henri Bergson was born in Paris, rue Lamartine, near the Opera Garnier. He descended from his father, a Polish Jewish family, and his mother an English family. His family lived in London a few years after his birth, and very soon became familiar to English with his mother. Before his nine years, his parents crossed the Channel and settled in France: Henry was then a naturalized French citizen. He had his schooling in Paris in high school Fontaine, today appointed Condorcet high school. In 1877 he won first prize in the competition in mathematics. His solution was published the following year in the Annals of Mathematics and is its first publication [2]. After some hesitation about his career, swinging between the sciences and humanities, he finally opted for the latter, and entered the Ecole Normale Superieure year of his nineteen years in the promotion of Emile Durkheim, of Jean Jaures and his friend Pierre Janet. He earned a degree in letters, then the aggregation of Philosophy in 1881. That same year he was appointed professor in a school of Angers. Two years later he was transferred in high school Blaise Pascal in Clermont-Ferrand [3]. In 1884 he published the excerpts of Lucretia, accompanied by a critical study of the text and the philosophy of the poet, book reprinted several times. In parallel to his teaching, Bergson found time to conduct personal work. He wrote the test data on the immediate awareness that submitted along with a short dissertation on Aristotle in Latin, stead of Aristoteles What senserit (The idea of place among Aristotle), for his degree of Doctor of Humane letters he won in 1889. His main thesis was published the same year by the Parisian publisher Felix Alcan in the series The Library of contemporary philosophy. Bergson signed the test Jules Lachelier, then Minister of Education, which was a strong supporter of Felix Ravaisson, and the author of a book philosophical foundation of the induction appeared in 1871 (Lachelier was born in 1832 , Ravaisson in 1813 and they were both professors at the Ecole Normale Superieure). Bergson then moved back to Paris and, after a few months taught college Rollin, he was appointed to the Henri IV high school, where he stayed eight years. It was Alfred Jarry in 1891-1892 for students. In 1892 he married Louise Neuburger. They had a daughter, Jeanne. In 1896 he published his second major work, Matter and memory. This book rather difficult, but very rich, explores the functions of the brain, is undertaking an analysis of perception and memory, and suggests considerations on the problems of the relationship between mind and body. Bergson has devoted years of research for the preparation of each of its main structures. This is particularly evident for Matter and memory, where it shows a knowledge of medical research carried out during this period. In 1898, Bergson became a lecturer at the Ecole Normale Superieure, and then won the title of professor in the same year. In 1900 he was appointed professor at the College de France, where he accepted the chair of Greek philosophy, replacing Charles L’Eveque. At the first International Congress of Philosophy, held in Paris the first five days of August 1900, Bergson was a short but important conference: On the psychological origins of our belief in the law of causality. In 1901, Felix Alcan published Le Rire, a production of “minor” of Bergson. This essay on the meaning of “comic” was based on a course he had in his youth in Auvergne. His study is essential to understand the vision of Bergson on life and its passages dealing with the role of art in life are remarkable. In 1901, Bergson was elected to the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences. In 1903, he collaborated in the Journal of metaphysics and morality by publishing an essay called Introduction to metaphysics, which can be read as a preface to the study of his major books. In 1904, death of sociologist Gabriel Tarde, Bergson succeeded him to the chair of Modern Philosophy. Between 4 and 8 September 1904, he was in Geneva to attend the Second International Congress of Philosophy, where he held a conference on paralogism The psycho-physiological or, to quote its new title, The Brain and Thought: an illusion philosophical. An illness prevented him from traveling to Germany to attend the third congress held in Heidelberg. His third major work, Creative Evolution, published in 1907, is undoubtedly his book the best known and most studied. It is one of the most profound and most unusual in the philosophical study of the theory of evolution. Imbart of Tower says that “a book as creative Evolution is not only a work, but a date, that of a new direction printed at the thought.” In 1918, his publisher Alcan had made 31 films, with an average of two editions per year for ten years. After the publication of this book, Bergson’s popularity increased considerably, not only in academic circles but also in the general public. Bergson went to London in 1908 and visited William James, American philosopher Harvard older than 17 years Bergson, who was one of the first to draw public attention Anglo American on its work. It was an interesting interview and we find the impressions of James in one of his letters of 4 October 1908: “This is a man so modest, but what intellectually genius! I believe strongly that the theory he developed ultimately prevail and that our era is a sort of turn in the history of philosophy. ” Shortly before his death, James attended Dr. Arthur Mitchell in his translation of The Creative Evolution, published in 1911. The same year appeared in France translation of a book by James pragmatism, whose preface truth and reality is at the hands of Bergson. It expresses its sympathy for the originality of the work of James and its “greatness of soul”, but provides significant reserves. From 5 to 11 April 1911, Bergson went to the Fifth Congress of Philosophy at Bologna in Italy, where he made a notable contribution: The Intuition philosophical. He was invited several times in England, among others at Oxford University, where he gave two lectures published by Clarendon Press under the name Perception of change. In this text, we appreciate the gift of Bergson to explain his ideas clearly and briefly, and these two lessons can serve as an introduction to his most important works. Oxford honored his visitor by giving him the title of Doctor of Science. Two days later, he gave a lecture at the University of Birmingham with regard to life and consciousness. It was published in The Hibbert Journal (October 1911) and is the first test of the spiritual book. In October he returned to England where he received a triumphant welcome, and gave at University College London four courses on the nature of the soul. In 1913, he visited the United States at the invitation of Columbia University in New York and gave lectures in several U.S. cities, where he was received by a very wide audience. In February, at Columbia University, he took courses in English and French on subjects freedom and spirituality and philosophical method. Back in England in May of that year, he accepted the presidency of the British Society for psychical Research (SPR) and gave as part of an amazing society: Ghosts of the living and psychological research, which may be deemed ” Speech by the method “qualitative psychiques science. Despite this public commitment to the metapsychique, Bergson has steadily forward discreetly in an area which he was both one of the observers (with the experiences of the Institute on general psychological Eusapia Palladino) and theorist hidden by Bertrand Meheust. During this time, his popularity grew, and translations of his work began in many languages: English, German, Italian, Danish, Swedish, Hungarian, Polish and Russian. In 1914 he received the French Academy. He was also named president of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences, became an officer of the Legion of Honor and officer of Public Instruction. Liberal religious movements described as modernist and neo-Catholics tried to capture the theories of Bergson. The Catholic Church responded by putting the three main structures of Bergson to Index (Decree of 1 June 1914). In 1914, Scottish universities organized by the Bergson held a series of courses Gifford Lectures. The first half was in spring and the second in the fall. The first part consists of eleven courses took place at the University of Edinburgh as The Problem of Personality. The second was canceled because of the First World War. Bergson does not remain silent during the conflict. From November 4 1914, he wrote an article entitled “The force that wears and that does not wear out” in The Bulletin of the Army of the Republic. A speech at the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences in December 1914 deals with the meaning of war [4]. Bergson also participated in the drawing of the Daily Telegraph in honor King of the Belgians, King Albert’s Book (Christmas 1914). In 1915, it gave the office of President of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences at Alexandre Ribot and made a speech on the evolution of German imperialism. In the meantime he found time to write to the Ministry of Education French as a quick summary of French philosophy. Bergson made many trips and conferences in the United States during the war. He was present when the French mission headed by Mr. Viviani went on up following the entry into the war the United States. The book of Mr. Viviani The French Mission in America (1917) contains a preface by Bergson. On 24 January 1918, he was officially received at the French Academy as a successor to Emile Ollivier, the author of the historic liberal empire. Like many articles he published were no longer available, he accepted the proposal of his friends to gather and publish in two volumes. They shall be entitled Energy spiritual tests and conferences. They contain, among other life and consciousness, the soul and body, paralogism The psycho-physiological and articles on the false recognition, dreams, and intellectual effort. This book is useful to introduce the concept of mental strength Bergson. In June 1920, Cambridge University honored the degree of Doctor of Letters. To allow it to concentrate its work on ethics, religion and sociology, Bergson was offered to provide courses related to the chair of modern philosophy at the College de France. It retained the pulpit, but the courses were held by Edouard Le Roy. In 1921 he became the first president of the new International Commission on Intellectual Cooperation (ICCI, the future UNESCO since 1946) whose function is to promote conditions conducive to international peace. It is based on the idea that the development of critical thinking individuals through education, allows them to act so healthy and responsible. ICCI brings together within it several intellectuals worldwide. On 6 April 1922, he participated in the meeting of the French Society of Philosophy in which Albert Einstein crossing in France, on the basis of the arguments of his book Time and simultaneity, he tries to argue in a debate with the notion physicist Universal time, rendered obsolete by the theory of relativity. In 1925 came a deforming arthritis who did suffer until the end of his life. Living with his wife and daughter in a modest house in a quiet street near the Porte d’Auteuil in Paris, Henri Bergson received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1927. At half paralyzed, he could not travel to Stockholm to receive his prize. In 1930, Henri Bergson was raised to the dignity of Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor. In 1932, he completed his new book The Two Sources of Morality and Religion, which extended its philosophical theories of morality, religion and art. He was greeted with respect by the public and the philosophical community, but at that time realized that the great period of Bergson was over. He could say one last time his convictions at the end of his life, renouncing all its titles and honors, rather than accept the exemption of anti-Semitic laws imposed by the Vichy regime. While wishing to convert to Catholicism, there resigned in solidarity with other Jews. Testimony of this solidarity, a rumor that he also wants to be focused by relatives until Commission de Passy, despite his illness to be identified as Jewish, but that he had offered because of his reputation and he broke with Judaism. It says in 1937: “My thoughts brought me closer to Catholicism when I see the completion of Judaism. I would convert if I had seen preparing for years […] the great wave of anti-Semitism that is sweeping the world. I wanted to stay among those who tomorrow will be persecuted. But I want a Catholic priest, if the Cardinal Archbishop procedures, say prayers come to my funeral. “He died on 4 January 1941 to 81 years. Upon request, a Catholic priest officia his funeral. Henri Bergson cemetery lies at Garches, in the Hauts-de-Seine.


Works in French:

  • La specialite – Angers : Lachese & Dolbeau, 1882

  • Extraits de Lucrece, avec un commentaire, des notes et une etudie sur la poesie, la philosophie, la physique, le texte et la langue de Lucrece – Paris : Delagrave, 1884

  • Essai sur les donnees immediates de la conscience – Paris : Alcan, 1889

  • Le bon sens et les etudes classiques : discours prononce a la distribution des prix du Concours general le 30 juillet 1895 – Paris : Delalain, 1895

  • Matiere et memoire : essai sur la relation du corps a l’esprit – Paris : Alcan, 1896

  • Introduction a la metaphysique – Paris : Suresnes, 1903

  • Notice sur la vie et les oeuvres de M. Felix Ravaisson–Mollien – Paris : Firmin– Didot, 1904.

  • L’evolution creatrice – Paris : Alcan, 1907

  • La Perception du changement : conferences faites a l’Universite d’Oxford les 26 et 27 mai 1911 – Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1911

  • La philosophie – Paris : Larousse, 1915

  • La signification de la guerre – Paris : Bloud & Gay, 1915

  • L’energie spirituelle : essais et conferences – Paris : Alcan, 1919

  • Duree et simultaneite a propos de la theorie d’Einstein – Paris : Alcan, 1922

  • L’intuition philosophique : Communication faite, au Congres philosophique de Bologne le x avril M. CM. XI. – Paris : Helleu & Sergent, 1927.

  • Les deux sources de la morale et de la religion – Paris : Alcan, 1932

  • La pensee et le mouvant : Essais et conferences.– Paris : Alcan, 1934

  • Memoire et vie : textes choisis – Paris : Presses universitaires de France, 1957

  • Ecrits et paroles : textes – 3 vol. / textes rassembles par R-M. Mosse-Bastide – Paris : Presses universitaires de France, 1957– 1959

  • Oeuvres – Ed. du Centenaire / textes annotes par Andre Robinet – Paris : Presses universitaires de France, 1959

  • La nature de l’ame ; suivi de Le probleme de la personalite / presentes [et traduits de l’anglais] par Andre et Martine Robinet – Paris : Presses universitaires de France, 1966

  • Melanges : l’idee de lieu chez Aristote, Duree et simultaneite, correspondance, pieces diverses, documents – Paris : Presses universitaires de France, 1972

  • Cours I : Lecons de psychologie et de metaphysique – Paris : Presses universitaires de France, 1990

  • Cours II : Lecons d’esthetique. Lecons de morale, psychologie et metaphysique – Paris : Presses universitaires de France, 1992

  • Cours III : Lecons d’histoire de la philosophie moderne, theories de l’ame – Paris : Presses universitaires de France, 1995

  • Bergson professeur : au lycee Blaise Pascal de Clermont– Ferrand (1883– 1888); cours 1885– 1886, Essai sur la nature de l’enseignement philosophique initial – Paris : L’Harmattan, 1998

  • Cours de Bergson sur la philosophie grecque / [ed. par] Henri Hude ; avec la collab. de Francois Vinel – Paris : Presses universitaires de France, 2000

Translations into English:

  • Time and Free Will : An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness / translated by F. L. Pogson – London : Sonnenschein, 1910

  • Creative Evolution / translated by Arthur Mitchell – London : Macmillan, 1911

  • Laughter : An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic / translated by Cloudesley Brereton and Fred Rothwell – New York : Macmillan, 1911

  • Matter and Memory / translated by Nancy Margaret Paul and W. Scott Palmer – London : Allen & Unwin, 1911

  • An Introduction to Metaphysics / translated by T. E. Hulme – London : Macmillan, 1913

  • Dreams / translated by Edwin E. Slosson – New York : Huebsch, 1914

  • The Meaning of the War : Life & Matter in Conflict – London : Unwin, 1915

  • Mind–Energy : Lectures and Essays / translated by H. Wildon Carr. – London : Macmillan, 1920

  • The Two Sources of Morality and Religion / translated by Cloudesley Brereton, R. Ashley Audra, and W. Horsfall Carter – London : Macmillan, 1935

  • Selections from Bergson / edited by Harold A. Larrabee – New York : Appleton – Century – Crofts, 1949

  • The World of Dreams / translated by Wade Baskin – New York : Philosophical Library, 1958

  • The Philosophy of Poetry : The Genius of Lucretius / edited and translated by Wade Baskin – New York : Philosophical Library, 1959

  • Duration and Simultaneity, with Reference to Einstein’s Theory / translated by Leon Jacob son – Indianapolis : Bobbs – Merrill, 1965

  • Duration and Simultaneity / edited by Robin Durie – Manchester : Clinamen Press, 1999

  • Key Writings / translated by Melissa McMahon ; edited by Keith Ansell Pearson and John Mullarkey – New York & London : Continuum, 2002

Literature (a selection):

  • Arbour, Le P. Romeo, Henri Bergson et les lettres francaises – Paris : Corti, 1956

  • The Bergsonian Heritage / Hanna, Thomas (ed.) – New York : Columbia Univ. Press, 1962

  • Pilkington, A. E., Bergson and His Influence : A Reassessment – New York : Columbia Univ. Press, 1962

  • Levesque, Georges, Bergson : vie et mort de l’homme de Dieu – Paris : Eds. du Cerf, 1973

  • Megay, Joyce N., Bergson et Proust : essai de mise au point de la question de l’influence de Bergson sur Proust – Paris: Vrin, 1975

  • Herman, Daniel J., The Philosophy of Henri Bergson – Washington : Univ. Press of America, 1980

  • Douglass, Paul, Bergson, Eliot, and American Literature – Lexington : Univ. Press of Kentucky, 1986

  • Gillies, Mary Ann, Henri Bergson and British Modernism – Montreal : McGill-Queen’s Univ. Press, 1996

  • Lawlor, Leonard, The Challenge of Bergsonism : Phenomenology, Ontology, Ethics – London : Continuum, 2003

  • Guerlac, Suzanne, Thinking in Time : An Introduction to Henri Bergson – Ithaca, NY : Cornell Univ. Press, 2006


1927: Nobel Prize in Literature.

Presentation Speech:

Presentation Speech by Per Hallstrom, President of the Nobel Committee of the Swedish Academy, on December 10, 1928

In his L’Evolution creatrice (1907) [Creative Evolution], Henri Bergson has declared that the most lasting and most fruitful of all philosophical systems are those which originate in intuition. If one believes these words, it appears immediately with regard to Bergson’s system how he has made fruitful the intuitive discovery that opens the gate to the world of his thought. This discovery is set forth in his doctoral thesis, Essai sur les donnees immediates de la conscience (1889) [Time and Free Will], in which time is conceived not as something abstract or formal but as a reality, indissolubly connected with life and the human self He gives it the name duration, a concept that can be interpreted as living time, by analogy with the life force. It is a dynamic stream, exposed to constant qualitative variations and perpetually increasing. It eludes reflection. It cannot be linked with any fixed point, for it would thereby be limited and no longer exist. It can be perceived and felt only by an introspective and concentrated consciousness that turns inward toward its origin.

What we usually call time, the time which is measured by the movement of a clock or the revolutions of the sun, is something quite different. It is only a form created by and for the mind and action. At the end of a most subtle analysis, Bergson concludes that it is nothing but an application of the form of space. Mathematical precision, certitude, and limitation prevail in its domain; cause is distinguished from effect and hence rises that edifice, a creation of the mind, whose intelligence has encircled the world, raising a wall around the most intimate aspirations of our minds toward freedom. These aspirations find satisfaction in living time: cause and effect here are fused; nothing can be foreseen with certainty, for certainty resides in the act, simple in itself, and can be established only by this act. Living time is the realm of free choice and new creations, the realm in which something is produced only once and is never repeated in quite the same manner. The history of the personality originates in it. It is the realm where the mind, the soul, whatever one may call it, by casting off the forms and habits of intelligence becomes capable of perceiving in an inner vision the truth about its own essence and about the universal life which is a part of our self.

In his purely scientific account, the philosopher tells us nothing of the origin of this intuition, born perhaps of a personal experience skilfully seized upon and probed, or perhaps of a liberating crisis of the soul. One can only guess that this crisis was provoked by the heavy atmosphere of rationalistic biology that ruled toward the end of the last century. Bergson had been brought up and educated under the influence of this science, and when he decided to take up arms against it, he had a rare mastery of its own weapons and full knowledge of the necessity and grandeur it had in its own realm, the conceptual construction of the material world. Only when rationalism seeks to imprison life itself in its net does Bergson seek to prove that the dynamic and fluid nature of life passes without hindrance across its meshes.

Even if I were competent, it would still be impossible to give an account of the subtlety and scope of Bergson’s thought in the few minutes at my disposal. The task is even more impossible for one who possesses only a very limited sense of philosophy and has never studied it.

At his starting point, the intuition of a living time, Bergson borrows in his analysis, in the development of his concepts, and in the sequence of his proofs, something of the dynamic, flowing, and almost irresistible essence of this intuition. One has to follow every movement; every moment introduces a new element. One has to follow the current, trying to breathe as best one can. There is scarcely time for reflection, for the moment one becomes static oneself, one loses all contact with the chain of reasoning.

In a singularly penetrating refutation of determinism our philosopher demonstrates that a universal intellect, which he calls Pierre, could not predict the life of another person, Paul, except in so far as he can follow Paul’s experiences, sensations, and voluntary acts in all their manifestations, to the extent of becoming identical with him as completely as two equal triangles coincide. A reader who wants to understand Bergson completely must to a certain extent identify himself with the author and fulfil enormous requirements of power and flexibility of mind.

This is by no means to say that there is no point in following the author in his course, for good or ill. Imagination and intuition are sometimes capable of flights where intelligence lags behind. It is not always possible to decide whether the imagination is seduced or whether the intuition recognizes itself and lets itself be convinced. In any event, reading Bergson is always highly rewarding.

In the account, so far definitive, of his doctrine, L’Evolution creatrice, the master has created a poem of striking grandeur, a cosmogony of great scope and unflagging power, without sacrificing a strictly scientific terminology. It may be difficult at times to profit from its penetrating analysis or from the profundity of its thought; but one always derives from it, without any difficulty, a strong aesthetic impression.

The poem, if one looks at it in that way, presents a sort of drama. The world has been created by two conflicting tendencies. One of them represents matter which, in its own consciousness, tends downwards; the second is life with its innate sentiment of freedom and its perpetually creative force, which tends increasingly toward the light of knowledge and limitless horizons. These two elements are mingled, prisoners of each other, and the product of this union is ramified on different levels.

The first radical difference is found between the vegetable and the animal world, between immobile and mobile organic activity. With the help of the sun, the vegetable world stores up the energy it extracts from inert matter; the animal is exempt from this fundamental task because it can draw energy already stored up in the vegetables from which it frees the explosive force simultaneously and proportionately to its needs. At a higher level in the chain, the animal world lives at the expense of the animal world, being able, due to this concentration of energy, to accentuate its development. The evolutionary paths thus become more and more diverse and their choice is in no way blind: instinct is born at the same time as the organs that it utilizes. Intellect is also existent in an embryonic stage, but still mind is inferior to instinct.

At the top of the chain of being, in man, intelligence becomes predominant and instinct subsides, without however disappearing entirely; it remains latent in the consciousness that unites all life in the current of living time; it comes into play in the intuitive vision. The beginnings of intelligence are modest and manifestly timid. Intelligence is expressed only by the tendency and the ability to replace organic instruments instinctively by instruments sprung from inert matter, and to make use of them by a free act. Instinct was more conscious of its goal, but this goal was, on the other hand, greatly limited; intelligence engaged itself, on the contrary, in greater risks, but tended also toward infinitely vaster goals, toward goals realized by the material and social culture of the human race. Inevitably a risk existed, however: intelligence, created to act in the spatial world, might distort the image of the world by the modality thus acquired from its concept of life and might remain deaf to its innermost dynamic essence and to the freedom that presides over its eternal variation. Hence the mechanistic and deterministic conception of an external world created by the conquests of intelligence in the natural sciences.

We will find ourselves, then, irremediably cornered in an impasse, without any consciousness of freedom of mind and cut off from the sources of life we carry within us, unless we also possess the gift of intuition when we trace ourselves back to our origin. Perhaps one can apply to this intuition, the central point of the Bergsonian doctrine, the brilliant expression that he uses about intelligence and instinct: the perilous way toward vaster possibilities. Within the limits of its knowledge, intelligence possesses logical certainty, but intuition, dynamic like everything that belongs to living time, must without doubt content itself with the intensity of its certainty.

This is the drama: creative evolution is disclosed, and man finds himself thrust on stage by the elan vital of universal life which pushes him irresistibly to act, once he has come to the knowledge of his own freedom, capable of divining and glimpsing the endless route that has been travelled with the perspective of a boundless field opening onto other paths. Which of these paths is man going to follow?

In reality we are only at the beginning of the drama, and it can scarcely be otherwise, especially if one considers Bergson’s concept that the future is born only at the moment in which it is lived. However, something is lacking in this beginning itself. The author tells us nothing of the will inherent in the free personality, of the will that determines action and that has the power to trace straight lines across the unforeseeable curves of this personality. Furthermore, he tells us nothing about the problem of life dominated by will power, about the existence or non-existence of absolute values.

What is the essence of the irresistible elan vital, that onslaught of life against the inertia of matter, which, according to Bergson’s audacious and magnificent expression, will one day triumph perhaps over death itself? What will it make of us when it places at our feet all earthly power?

However complicated they may be, one cannot escape these questions. Is the philosopher perhaps at this very moment on his way to the solution, certainly as tentative and audacious as his previous work has been and richer still in possibilities?

There still remain some points to clarify. Does he perhaps seek to put an end to the dualism of the image he gives of the world in seeking out a kind of elan vital that applies to matter? We know nothing in this regard, but Bergson has himself presented his system as constituting, on many points, only an outline that must be completed in its details by the collaboration of other thinkers.

We are indebted to him, nevertheless, for one achievement of importance: by a passage he has forced through the gates of rationalism, he has released a creative impulse of inestimable value, opening a large access to the waters of living time, to that atmosphere in which the human mind will be able to rediscover its freedom and thus be born anew.

If the outlines of his thought prove sound enough to serve as guides to the human spirit, Bergson can be assured, in the future, of an influence even greater than the influence he is already enjoying. As stylist and as poet, he yields place to none of his contemporaries; in their strictly objective search for truth, all his aspirations are animated by a spirit of freedom which, breaking the servitude that matter imposes, makes room for idealism.


Introduction a La Met a Physique

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