Henri Bergson, aka Henri-Louis Bergson

Bergson, aka Henri-Louis Bergson

French Philosopher

Author 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.

The idea of the future, pregnant with an infinity of possibilities, is thus more fruitful than the future itself, and this is why we find more charm in hope than in possession, in dreams than in reality.

When we make the cerebral state the beginning of an action, and in no sense the condition of a perception, we place the perceived images of things outside the image of our body, and thus replace perception within the things themselves.

For life is tendency, and the essence of a tendency is to develop in the form of a sheaf, creating, by its very growth, divergent directions among which its impetus is divided.

Is it astonishing that, like children trying to catch smoke by closing their hands, philosophers so often see the object they would grasp fly before them?

The major task of the twentieth century will be to explore the unconscious, to investigate the subsoil of the mind.

Wherever anything lives, there is, open somewhere, a register in which time is being inscribed.

Fortunately, some are born with spiritual immune systems that sooner or later give rejection to the illusory worldview grafted upon them from birth through social conditioning. They begin sensing that something is amiss, and start looking for answers. Inner knowledge and anomalous outer experiences show them a side of reality others are oblivious to, and so begins their journey of awakening. Each step of the journey is made by following the heart instead of following the crowd and by choosing knowledge over the veils of ignorance.

It seems that laughter needs an echo.

The motive power of democracy is love

You will obtain a vision of matter that is perhaps fatiguing for your imagination, but pure and stripped of what the requirements of life make you add to it in external perception.

Genius is that which forces the inertia of humanity to learn.

Laughter is the corrective force which prevents us from becoming cranks.

The only cure for vanity is laughter, and the only fault that is laughable is vanity.

Homo sapiens, the only creature endowed with reason, is also the only creature to pin it's existence on things unreasonable

Life does not proceed by the association and addition of elements, but by dissociation and division.

The present contains nothing more than the past, and what is found in the effect was already in the cause.

I believe that the time given to refutation in philosophy is usually time lost. Of the many attacks directed by many thinkers against each other, what now remains? Nothing, or assuredly very little. That which counts and endures is the modicum of positive truth which each contributes. The true statement is, of itself, able to displace the erroneous idea, and becomes, without our having taken the trouble of refuting anyone, the best of refutations.

Men do not sufficiently realize 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 is the responsibility, then, for deciding if they want merely to live, or intend to make just the extra effort required for fulfilling, even on this refractory planet, the essential function of the universe, which is a machine for the making of gods.

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.

I cannot escape the objection that there is no state of mind, however simple, that does not change every moment.

Might not certain vices have the same relation to character that the rigidity of a fixed idea as to intellect? Whether as a moral kink or a crooked twist given to the will, vice has often the appearance of a curvature for the soul. Doubtless there are vices into which the soul plunges deeply with all its pregnant potency, which it rejuvenates and drags along with it into a moving circle of reincarnations. Those are tragic vices. But the vice capable of making us comic is, on the contrary, that which is brought from without, like a ready-made frame into which we are to step. It lends us its own rigidity instead of borrowing from us our flexibility. We do not render it more complicated; on the contrary, it simplifies us. Here, as we shall see later in the concluding section of this study, lies the essential difference between comedy and drama. A drama, even when portraying passions or vices that bear a name, so completely incorporates them that the person is forgotten, their general characteristics effaced, and we no longer think of them at all, but rather of the person in whom they are assimilated; hence, the title of a drama can seldom be anything else than a proper noun. On the other hand, many comedies have a common noun as their title: L'Avare, Le Joueur etc.

The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth all sensation is already memory.

I see plainly how external images influence the image that I call my body: they transmit movement to it.

My body, an object destined to move other objects, is, then, a centre of action, it cannot give birth to a representation.

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French Philosopher