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Henri Bergson

Henri Bergson was born on October 18th, 1859 in Paris, France. He was raised Jewish, and received a Jewish education, however as a young teen he began to question his faith and between the ages of 14 and 16 he decided that he would no longer practice Judaism. He won many awards in mathematics, but soon shifted his focus from math to philosophy and went on to become a professor at L’École Normale Superieure and Collège de France. Bergson wrote and published many literary works about his take on philosophy, including Time and Free Will, Matter and Memory, Creative Evolution, and The Two Senses of Morality and Religion. Weeks before his death in 1941, he stood in line to re-register as a Jew. ““My reflections have led me closer and closer to Catholicism, in which I see the complete fulfillment of Judaism.” He wrote in his will. “I would have become a convert, had I not foreseen for years a formidable wave of anti-Semitism about to break upon the world. I wanted to remain among those who tomorrow were to be persecuted.”

Bergson’s most popular and influential was Creative Evolution. In this book, he explains that evolution, although a scientific fact, was created by some kind of higher power, or “life force” and it is always developing and generating new forms. He also teaches us how intuition is the only way humans can truly attain knowledge, rather than simply relying on what we are taught. These teachings have taught modern philosophers the importance of creativity and also how there can be a balance between creationism and evolution. These concepts are quite complex and quite difficult to understand or even attempt to explain in great detail. However there are a series of quotes from Bergson that can help us understand Bergson’s view on the world.

“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.”

“Homo sapiens, the only creature endowed with reason, is also the only creature to pin its existence on things unreasonable.”

“Some other faculty than the intellect is necessary for the apprehension of reality.”



3 thoughts on “Henri Bergson

  1. Great job on your blog post! It is amazing how although our two metaphysicians both underwent similar situations in life, they ended up on the end of two separate spectrum with Henri Bergson’s studies bringing him closer to religion and to Judaism and Baruch Spinoza’s studies ultimately bringing him further away. I was wondering how people reacted to Bergson when he first proposed the idea that there is a balance between creationism and evolution.

    Posted by emilysaint05 | October 15, 2013, 5:19 am
    • I’m sure it sparked a lot of mixed feelings. At the time, most the people who believed in creationism were strictly anti-evolution, and vice versa. Bergson’s idea created a whole new gray area that would have been a huge unpleasant shock to some and a relief to others.

      Posted by ashleyashrafian | October 15, 2013, 5:30 am
  2. That’s smart! His views are similar to my philosopher’s, mostly in that they both believe that the universe was created by God but is a scientific fact,

    Posted by sophieturner39 | October 16, 2013, 5:30 am

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