Henri Bergson and the Perception of Time

Know the name, can’t quite recall what he thought? John-Francis Phipps explains the surprising ideas of the philosopher of vitalism.

Bergson’s name is not usually included on shortlists of the philosophical greats, so it’s quite easy to miss him. I first came across him many years ago, when I read Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy. Russell clearly disliked Bergson’s philosophy and provided unconvincing reasons to justify his prejudice. This made me want to read Bergson and judge for myself, which I duly did and soon saw how wrong Russell was. I eventually wrote an introductory booklet on Bergson entitled A Living Philosophy (Now out of print, although most of the text is still available in another publication.

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