Henri-Luis Bergson

Henri-Luis Bergson
Birth 1859
Death 1941

Superstar of 20th Century philosophy, who was awarded several prizes, including the Nobel Prize (although that was for literature, not philosophy). He had a typical Jewish religious education, but his faith fell away when he discovered the works of Heraclitus and Darwin’s theory of evolution. He saw human existence as nothing more than a survival instinct or ‘vital impulse’ (élan vital) in the ever-changing current of time. He thought the intellect and the senses were deceptive, that they only tell us the minimum we need to survive and fail to give us an objective bigger picture. He believed that true culture was for the elite; it was possible to achieve absolute knowledge, but only if you had creative flair and a highly developed intuition.

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