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Bergson, Henri.

Bergson, Henri

(1859 - 1941) French philosopher. During his lifetime, Bergson enjoyed wide popularity as a professor at the College de France; his lectures were always crowded, and his books were eagerly read. His influence upon modern literature and thought has been profound. Bergson 's philosophy is complex, but the basic premise of his intellectual system is a faith in direct intuition as a means of attaining knowledge. To the experimental and rationalistic methods of science, he opposed an antirational and mystical approach to understanding. Change or movement, Bergson believed, was the basis of all reality. Time should not be measured scientifically or mechanically, since for the human being time operates as a continuous flow in which past and present are inseparable from the memory and the consciousness. This theory of time in relation to the human self figures prominently in the long work of Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past.

Bergson's interest in biological evolution led to the formulation of his theory of elan vital, a spirit of energy and life which moves all living things, and to the publication of his famous work L ' evolution cr eatrice (1907; translated as Creative Evolution, 1913). His chief philosophical works are Essai sur les donnees immediates de la conscience (1888; translated as Time and Free Will, 1910), Matiere et memoire (1896; translated as Matter and Memory, 1913), Le Rire (1901; translated as Laughter, 1914), Revue de metaphysique et de morale (1903; translated as Introduction to Metaphysics, 1912), L ' Energie spirituelle (1919; translated as Mind - Energy, 1920), Les Deux Sources de la morale et de la religion (1932; translated as Two Sources of Morality and Religion, 1935), and La Pensee et le mouvant (1934; translated as The Creative Mind,

1936). He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1927. Of Jewish parentage, Bergson renounced the honors and posts awarded him by the French government in 1940, as a protest against the hostile legislation passed by the Vichy government against the Jews.

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Publication:Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia, 3rd ed.
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1987
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