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Henri-Louis Bergson (1859 – 1941)


Major French philosopher, influential in the first half of the 20th century.
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Henri-Louis Bergson
The philosophy of Bergson, which is a spiritualist restoration, essentially mystical, medieval, Quixotesque, has been called a demi-mondaine philosophy. Leave out the demi; call it mondaine, mundane. Mundane — yes, a philosophy for the world and not for philosophers, just as chemistry ought to be not for chemists alone. The world desires illusion (mundus vult decipi) — either the illusion antecedent to reason, which is poetry, or the illusion subsequent to reason, which is religion.
Bergson quotes
Intuition is a method of feeling one's way intellectually into the inner heart of a thing to locate what is unique and inexpressible in it.
Bergson
One of the bad effects of an anti-intellectual philosophy such as that of Bergson, is that it thrives upon the errors and confusions of the intellect. Hence it is led to prefer bad thinking to good, to declare every momentary difficulty insoluble, and to regard every foolish mistake as revealing the bankruptcy of intellect and the triumph of intuition. There are in Bergson's work many allusions to mathematics and science, and to a careless reader these allusions may seem to strengthen his philosophy greatly. As regards science, especially biology and physiology, I am not competent to criticize his interpretations. But as regards mathematics, he has deliberately preferred traditional errors in interpretation to the more modern views which have prevailed among mathematicians for the last eighty years. In this matter, he has followed the example of most philosophers. In the eighteenth and the early nineteenth centuries, the infinitesimal calculus, though well developed as a method, was supported, as regards his foundations, by many fallacies and much confused thinking. Hegel and his followers seized upon these fallacies and confusions, to support them in their attempt to prove all mathematics self-contradictory. Thence the Hegelian account of these matters passed into the current thought of philosophers, where it has remained long after the mathematicians have removed all the difficulties upon which the philosophers rely. And so long as the main object of philosophers is to show that nothing can be learned by patience and detailed thinking, but that we ought rather to worship the prejudices of the ignorant under the title or 'reason' if we are Hegelians, or of 'intuition' if we are Bergsonians, so long philosophers will take care to remain ignorant of what mathematicians have done to remove the errors by which Hegel profited.




Bergson Henri-Louis quotes
Religion is to mysticism what popularization is to science.
Bergson Henri-Louis
Je dirais qu'il faut agir en homme de pensée et penser en homme d'action.
Henri-Louis Bergson quotes
I cannot escape the objection that there is no state of mind, however simple, that does not change every moment.
Henri-Louis Bergson
All the living hold together, and all yield to the same tremendous push. The animal takes its stand on the plant, man bestrides animality, and the whole of humanity, in space and in time, is one immense army galloping beside and before and behind each of us in an overwhelming charge able to beat down every resistance and clear the most formidable obstacles, perhaps even death.
Bergson Henri-Louis quotes
Men do not sufficiently realise that their future is in their own hands. Theirs is the task of determining first of all whether they want to go on living or not. Theirs the responsibility, then, for deciding if they want merely to live, or intend to make just the extra effort required for fulfilling, even on their refractory planet, the essential function of the universe, which is a machine for the making of gods (la fonction essentielle de l'universe, qui est une machine ? faire des dieux).
Bergson
Sex-appeal is the keynote of our whole civilization.
Bergson Henri-Louis
The present contains nothing more than the past, and what is found in the effect was already in the cause.
Henri-Louis Bergson
The prestige of the Nobel Prize is due to many causes, but in particular to its twofold idealistic and international character: idealistic in that it has been designed for works of lofty inspiration; international in that it is awarded after the production of different countries has been minutely studied and the intellectual balance sheet of the whole world has been drawn up. Free from all other considerations and ignoring any but intellectual values, the judges have deliberately taken their place in what the philosophers have called a community of the mind.




Henri-Louis Bergson quotes
The eyes see only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.
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