Bergson Philosophy Summary

henri bergson

Henri Bergson: a rationalist and Cartesian philosopher

Hostile to the materialistic positivism, Henri Bergson, a French vitalist philosopher, has opertated a return to the immediate data of consciousness.

Bergson’s intuition:

Bergson’s influence was considerable, especially on Sartre or Heidegger. At the end of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century, he questioned both the intellectualist philosophies, who claimed access to the real exercise of intelligence and “scientists” solutions, according to which knowledge only provides valid science.

However, how could the intelligence grasp reality?

– It is in the mold of the action it was cast.

– It does not refer originally a purely speculative possibility, but an active power.

– Seen in what appears to be the first step, it is to build artificial objects and vary in manufacturing.

– Homo Faber before Homo sapiens, the human being has first tried to dominate nature to serve his purposes.

Intelligence also allows it to effectively plan and organize action.

– But when a philosopher proposes to enter the Absolute (which is perfect in that it is exactly what he is, which does not depend on any symbol), it does not take another route and try to abstract methods and approaches essentially adapted to the world of action? (Eg, analysis, operation bringing the object to elements already known, redial …)

– The science was based on intelligence and applied to the material processes of measurement and calculation.

– In doing so, it builds useful diagrams and extended into a practice, but it has not exceeded the realm of the relative.

– It has built scientific laws, that is to say constant relations between magnitudes that vary without obviously penetrate the Absolute.

In what way can we hope to attain the Absolute?

– We must repudiate not only intelligence, but the language, which is closely linked.

– Instrument of intelligence, language is a set of verbal signs not noticing things that their most common and most trivial signs fixing and freezing what changes and varies.

– Linguistic signs are only labels on things.

– The words denote kinds, general ideas for a group of beings with common characteristics. They can not express the real objective psyche or profound as intelligence, they are instruments of action.

Therefore, the view does not have the immediacy does not take precedence over those of the concept of discourse and discursive?

– By way of immediate knowledge, direct, by making us sympathy coincide with what has been unique and indescribable in a word, by intuition, we enter the deep being real.

– Intuition represents a return to oneself and to what we are authentically return takes place without intermediaries.

Bergson and the inner life: life, liberty, memory

That’s life inner intuition will first allow us to discover. And, indeed, the intuitive knowledge that we find the term pure form are states of consciousness when our ego lets him live, when it refrains from establishing a separation between the present and previous states.

– Conduct fluid, pure heterogeneity, qualitative fusion, duration represents the very fabric of our self.

– A continuous becoming is what reveals a metaphysical investigation based on intuition.

However, it is still qualitative become unpredictable. For me the key, that we reveal the “immediate data of consciousness” is freedom.

– If the superficial self, the part of our psyche and shaped by the conventions of society, boils, often a result of automation, our authentic inner life, our life are deep, freedom.

When are we free?

– When we go beyond the surface crust of the linguistic sign, words, social, when our actions emanate from our whole personality and express it.

– Freedom is experienced in contact with our inner self, a real agreement with it.

– This is me then going back down to the surface. Freedom is one with the burst of self.

Finally, our inner life is memory. Here takes place the famous distinction of the two memories.

– There is a memory-usually made Automation and motor mechanisms: when I learn a text by heart, and I repeat, I made a number of gestures known; memory usually refers to a real-body mechanism.

– In contrast to these automation pure memory is that of my history: past lives within me, as memories pure, unchangeable, independent body. Pure memory contains our past and our spiritual essence is true.

Bergson and the ‘élan vital’:

Intuition gives us not only our spiritual dynamism, but also the duration of the universe and the great breath of life.

As well as our inner experience is made of time and qualitative changes, as it is woven by son who grow constantly, so the reality is becoming and evolution.

But how to understand this development?

– Bergson rejects both the doctrines and tenets of Darwin as mechanistic teleology.

– In the first case (mechanism), psycho-chemical explanation is supposed to suffice, but the mechanism is blind to the pressure of living, weather, dynamism. With the mechanism, everything is given and the momentum of life is in parentheses.

– But the finalist doctrine (which refers to a plan and a purpose in actualizing life), is also the time to get creative and brackets: she, too, as if everything was initially given by advance. For a preformed explain everything.

Therefore, it is the original idea of ​​a momentum that is offered to us, the living species that diverged from this momentum.

– The ‘élan vital’ means an unpredictable creative process, a current flowing through the body it organizes.

– Thus, the original impulse of creation she invents forms more complex.

– To understand the essence of this life force, think of pure duration, which is creative spontaneity.

– The momentum is also vital, invention: he creates new instincts, bodies that did not exist, creating, with its spontaneity, complex and unexpected forms, mere mechanical combinations can not explain.

Thus, all analyzes led Bergson to see life in a creative movement and an effort to go back down the slope area.

Bergson, morality, religion, and art:

The same dynamic perspective illuminates the moral phenomena, religious and artistic. Is here the key word “open”

– Is “open” all together escaping the suffocation of a circle of rigid rules opening the momentum of life and creation.

– Thus, in open morality, is a spiritual work.

– While closed morality means only a fixed set of requirements with a binding, simple products organized society, open morality is dynamic: it expresses, not a rigid system of social obligations, but a moral invention, an appeal related to a spiritual energy.

– Similarly, dynamic religion, that of the great mystics, imbued with a dash of love, the soul carries well beyond itself and beyond so much static religion, invention of mankind to defend and protect against dissolving the idea of ​​death and ensure its conservation.

– dynamic religion, entering a contact duration creative experience is immediate, the mystical soul, the Divine and God.

Finally, as an open morality, religion as dynamic, authentic art means a coincidence with the immediate reality, an unveiling of reality itself, a direct vision of what is beyond symbols practically useful.

If Bergson’s voice is not always heard in contemporary culture and the world, however, his philosophy, mystical inspiration, enlightened, a limpid prose, deep and spiritual dynamics refers to a metaphysical experience complete. What, in this context, that philosophy? Be placed in the object by an effort of intuition and coincide with it.

Cite this article as: Tim, "Bergson Philosophy Summary, March 7, 2013, " in Philosophy & Philosophers, March 7, 2013,

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