Henri Bergson, aka Henri-Louis Bergson

Bergson, aka Henri-Louis Bergson

French Philosopher

Author Quotes

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

There is, beneath these sharply cut crystals and this frozen surface, a continuous flux which is not comparable to any flux I have ever seen. There is a succession of states, each of which announces that which follows and contains that which precedes it.

An absolute can only be given in an intuition, while all the rest has to do with analysis.

In reality, the past is preserved by itself automatically.

Spirit borrows from matter the perceptions on which it feeds and restores them to matter in the form of movements which it has stamped with its own freedom.

Thus to seek with ready-made concepts to penetrate into the inmost nature of things is to apply to the mobility of the real a method created in order to give stationary points of observation on it. . . .

And I also see how this body influences external images : it gives back movement to them.

In short, intelligence, considered in what seems to be its original feature, is the faculty of manufacturing artificial objects, especially tools to make tools, and of indefinitely urging the manufacture.

The body, by the place which at each moment it occupies in the universe, indicates the parts and the aspects of matter on which we can lay hold: our perception, which exactly measures our virtual action on things, thus limits itself to the objects which actually influence our organs and prepare our movements.

To perceive means to immobilize. We seize, in the act of perception, something which outruns perception itself.

Art has no other object than to set aside the symbols of practical utility, the generalities that are conventionally and socially accepted, everything in fact which masks reality from us, in order to set us face to face with reality itself.

Instinct perfected is a faculty of using and even constructing organized instruments; intelligence perfected is the faculty of making and using unorganized instruments.

The brain's function is to choose from the past, to diminish it, to simplify it, but not to preserve it.

We regard intelligence as man's main characteristic and we know that there is no superiority which intelligence cannot confer on us, no inferiority for which it cannot compensate.

But, then, I cannot escape the objection that there is no state of mind, however simple, which does not change every moment, since there is no consciousness without memory, and no continuation of a state without the addition, to the present feeling, of the memory of past moments. It is this which constitutes duration. Inner duration is the continuous life of a memory which prolongs the past into the present, the present either containing within it in a distinct form the ceaselessly growing image of the past, or, more profoundly, showing by its continual change of quality the heavier and still heavier load we drag behind us as we grow older. Without this survival of the past into the present there would be no duration, but only instantaneity.

Intelligence is the faculty of making artificial objects, especially tools to make tools.

The essential function of the universe, which is a machine for making gods.

When it is said that an object occupies a large space in the soul or even that it fills it entirely, we ought to understand by this simply that its image has altered the shade of a thousand perceptions or memories, and that in this sense it pervades them, although it does not itself come into view.

Europe is overpopulated, the world will soon be in the same condition, and if the self-reproduction of man is not rationalized... we shall have war.

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

French Philosopher