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Henri-Louis Bergson

Awards: Nobel Prize in Literature-1927, Grand-Croix de la Legion d'honneur- Highest Honor of France

Nobel Committee in its citation stated that the prize was given  "in recognition of his rich and vitalizing ideas and the brilliant skill with which they have been presented "

Born: 18/10/1859 in Paris, France

Died: 04/01/1941  in Paris, France

Citizen: French

Language: French

Henri-Louis Bergson was born in Paris. His parents, the Bereksohns were the famous Jewish entrepreneurial family of Polish descent. After his birth, the family moved to England for a few years . When Bergson was nine, they came back to France crossing the English Channel and settled in Paris.

   Bergson was quite brilliant in Science & Mathematics and was also inclined towards philosophy. In fact, his first publication was for a scientific work in 1877 at the age of 18 for which he was awarded a prize. The article was published the following year in Annales de Mathématiques . Bergson, after finishing his school education, had to decide between Science & Humanities and he chose the latter much to the chagrin of his teachers.

    His thesis Time and Free Will, along with a short Latin thesis on Aristotle fetched him Doctorate from  University of Paris in 1889. The work later appeared in the book form. In 1896, Matter and Memory, his second major work was published which analyzed perception and memory. The treatise was very articulate in the sense that Bergson thoroughly pursued all important contemporary pathological investigation data before forming his opinion on the issue. He also published Introduction to Metaphysics, a very important essay. His third major work, Creative Evolution, the most widely known, discussed and debated of all his works, was published in 1907.

    In 1908, he went to London and there he met William James, the Harvard Philosopher, and two became very close friends. In 1913, he visited USA at the invitation of Columbia University and toured and lectured in several cities there.

   Bergson accepted Presidency of the British Society for Psychical Research and gave an impressive address on "Phantom of Life and Psychic Research". In the Year 1920, the University of Cambridge honored him with the Degree of Doctor of Letters.

 Landmarks: * Bergson was born the  month before the publication of Charles Darwin's epoch-making book- On the Origin of Specis * In 1914, he was elected to the Academie Francais * From 1921 - 1926, he was President of the Commission for Intellectual Cooperation of the League of Nations. * He had previously endorsed Lamarckism and its theory of heritability of acquired characteristics, but after reading 'On the Origin of Specis' , he preferred the hypothesis of gradual variation. We know that Lamarck was correct.

                Bergson led a quiet, unassuming life till the end.

Notable Works: Essai sur les Donnees immediates de la conscience--Time and Free Will(1889),  Matiere e memoire; Essai sur la relation due corps a l' spirit - Matter and Memory  (1896), L'Evolution creatrice - Creative Evolution  (1917), Les Deux Sources de la morale et de lareligion - The Two Sources of Morality and Religion(1932)

Henri-Louis Bergson

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