Henri Bergson, aka Henri-Louis Bergson

Henri
Bergson, aka Henri-Louis Bergson
1859
1941

French Philosopher

Author Quotes

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.

The universe is a machine for creating gods.

A situation is always comic if it participates simultaneously in two series of events which are absolutely independent of each other, and if it can be interpreted in two quite different meanings.

I would say act like a man of thought and think like a man of action.

Only those ideas that are least truly ours can be adequately expressed in words.

The vital spirit. L'‚lan vital.

Action on the move creates its own route, creates to a very great extent the conditions under which it is to be fulfilled and thus baffles all calculation.

In its entirety, probably, it follows us at every instant, all that we have felt, thought and willed from our earliest infancy is there, leaning over the present which is about to join it, pressing against the portals of consciousness that would fain leave it outside.

Our laughter is always the laughter of a group.

There are manifold tones of mental life, or, in other words, our psychic life may be lived at different heights, now nearer to action, now further removed from it, according to the degree of our attention to life.

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.

In just the same way the thousands of successive positions of a runner are contracted into one sole symbolic attitude, which our eye perceives, which art reproduces, and which becomes for everyone the image of a man who runs.

Religion is to mysticism what popularization is to science

There is nothing in philosophy which could not be said in everyday language.

All the translations of a poem in all possible languages may add nuance to nuance and, by a kind of mutual retouching, by correcting one another, may give an increasingly faithful picture of the poem they translate, yet they will never give the inner meaning of the original.

In laughter we always find an unavowed intention to humiliate and consequently to correct our neighbor.

Sex appeal is the keynote of our civilization

Author Picture
First Name
Henri
Last Name
Bergson, aka Henri-Louis Bergson
Birth Date
1859
Death Date
1941
Bio

French Philosopher