Bergson, Henri (1859-1941)
philosopher and diplomat.
His life straddles the turn of the twentieth century and his very complex
thought also marks a turn from scientifically minded positivism of the
nineteenth century to the more suspicious attitude towards mathematically based
physical science, typical of the twentieth century. His own
philosophy combined respect for maths and physics with a sense of their
limitations as the key to metaphysical reality.
most famous works are Creative Evolution, Matter and Memory and Time
and Simultaneity. In 1928 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and
during the First World War he acted as a diplomat in the precursor to what is
nowadays known as UNESCO. His importance lies in his influence over much of the
twentieth century French thought that followed him. Bergson
set the agenda for French philosophy with a focus on embodiment, concreteness,
rejection of rationality modelled on physics and maths, as well as the
recognition of time and the concept of becoming.
way of his philosophy of dynamism he described a vital principle, or living
impulse, at work in the universe. Contrary
to Darwins notion of natural selection, Bergson
posited such a non-materialistic, non-mechanistic creative urge in nature as the
driving force of biological evolution.
by: Richard P Whaite and Marty Maddox/CTNS
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