Henri Bergson (1859-1941)

      Bergson was in influential idealist philosopher famous for his concept of élan vital, or "life force", which animated his version of VITALISM. This mystical notion asserts that in addition to the complex organization of physical matter that goes to make up living organisms, there must also be some non-material, spiritual something-or-other added in to bring the entity to life. According to Bergson the original "life force" is passed down from one generation to another in all living things, and is the necessary creative force in an organism which produces growth, guides development, and produces new adaptations. He opposed scientific evolutionary theory as "mechanical".

      Another of Bergson's central metaphysical concepts is that of "duration", which is not the same as the concept of time in everyday usage or physical science. For him, "duration" is pure and non-material, and is the basis and origin of all things, including matter, motion, time (as we know it), consciousness, and "the ABSOLUTE". (Try to figure all that out!) Knowledge of "duration" can be gained only through INTUITION, rather than through any rational investigation of the world. He is thus an IRRATIONALIST. Bergson also justified class rule as "natural", and war as a "law of nature". No wonder he was made a member of the prestigious French Academy!

Professor Bergson with a lass of high station
Could not keep it up, so he gave this oration:
    "I intuit the key, dear,
    Is duration, but see here,
No élan vital means there'll be no elongation."
    —JSH, "Élan Vital" (1992)

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