From Israel In Prophecy

Biography: 00014

Last Name
BERGSON
First Name
Henri
Life Span
1859-1941
Publications
Time and Free Will (1889), An Introduction to Metaphysics (1903), Matter and Memory (1896), Creative Evolution (1907), The Two Sources of Morality and Religion (1932)
Sources
Biography
Details
Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1927. The French philosopher is initially influenced by mechanistic writers like Spencer, Mill, and Darwin, but breaks away in books like An Introduction to Metaphysics (which develops a theory of knowledge in which intuition is key) and Creative Evolution (which concludes that Darwinian mechanisms cannot explain life's expansiveness and creativity). During the 1920s Bergson becomes a Christian, and in his final book, The Two Sources of Morality and Religion, describes Judeo-Christian understanding as the culmination of human social evolution. In 1937 he explains that his reflections led him to Christianity, "in which I see the complete fulfillment of Judaism," but he was reluctant to convert because he was foreseeing "the formidable wave of anti-Semitism which is to sweep over the world. I wanted to remain among those who tomorrow will be persecuted." Suffering from rheumatic pains he put the Nazi occupiers of Paris to shame when he was 81 years old by asking them to give him a badge for his arm to identify him as a Jew. He had chosen to renounce all of the posts and honours previously awarded him, rather than accept exemption from the antisemitic laws imposed by the Vichy government.
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