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 Henri Louis Bergson

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Henri Louis Bergson

Birth
Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Death 4 Jan 1941 (aged 81)
Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Burial Garches, Departement des Hauts-de-Seine, Île-de-France, France
Memorial ID 12283 View Source
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Nobel Prize in Literature. Henri-Louis Bergson was a French philosopher, who was influential in the tradition of continental philosophy, especially during the first four decades of the twentieth century. He was known for his arguments that processes of immediate experience and intuition are more significant than abstract rationalism and science for understanding reality. He was awarded the 1927 Nobel Prize in Literature, according to the Nobel Prize committee, "in recognition of his rich and vitalizing ideas and the brilliant skill with which they have been presented." He received ten nominations for the Nobel candidacy, with the Academy of Political and Moral Sciences submitting nominations in 1921 and 1928. In 1930 France awarded him its highest honor, the Grand-Croix de la Legion d'honneur. Bergson's great popularity created a controversy in France where his views were seen as opposing the secular and scientific attitude adopted by the Republic's officials. Of course, his works are more recognized in France as they were initially published in that language. Born the son of a talented Polish musician and an English woman, his parents had Jewish ancestry. He studied philosophy at the Lycée Condorcet and the École Normale Supérieure. In 1888, Bergson submitted two doctoral theses, with one being published in his book, “Time and Free Will” in 1889. The second thesis, “Aristotle’s Conception of Place,” had to be written in Latin. After a teaching career as a schoolmaster in various secondary schools, he was appointed to the École Normale Supérieure in 1898 and, from 1900 to 1921, held the chair of philosophy at the Collège de France. He was elected in 1921 as one of the “40 immortals” of the French Academy,” the council pertaining to anything in the French language. From 1921 to 1926 he was president of the Commission for Intellectual Cooperation of the League of Nations, and even after the replacement of the League in 1946 for the United Nations, he was remembered for his political input. He was a master literary stylist, of both academic and popular appeal to the point of having a cult-like following. In 1908 he made a trip to England to lecture; this was one of many trips that he made around Europe. In 1913 while he was visiting the United States, one of the worst traffic jams in New York City was made by his fans as the result of his pending lecture at Columbia University. In the spring of 1914, he was the Gifford Lecturer at University of the Edinburgh in Scotland, but with the dawn of World War I, he stopped traveling. Upon the United States entering World War I, he wrote the preface in French Prime Minister Rene’ Viviani’s book, “The French Mission in America: April 24 to May 13, 1917.” Besides “Time and Free Will,” the rest of the collection of his principal works includes “Matter and Memory” in 1896, “Creative Evolution” in 1907, and “The Two Sources of Morality and Religion” in 1932. Other publications were “Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic ” in 1900, “Mind-Energy” in 1919 and “Duration and Simultaneity” in 1922. In 1934 he wrote “Creative Mind,” which dealt with the subject of metaphysical and the first of his publication to be produced in many languages. Although not a practicing Jew, he expressed in several ways his opposition to the anti-Semitic laws of the Vichy regime, which was the French government appointed by the German Nazi forces during World War II. In 1891 he married a cousin of noted author, Marcel Proust, who was the best man at the wedding. Five years after their marriage their daughter, Jeanne Adèle Bergson was born; although deaf, she became a talented artist. From the 1930s, he suffered daily with crippling arthritis, which impacted his career. He died with respiratory failure as the result of bronchitis. At his request, a Catholic priest spoke at his funeral. Posthumously, Bergson’s works were published in seven volumes in 1945 through 1946. One of Bergson’s many quotes, “Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought.”

Bio by: Linda Davis

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 5 Sep 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 12283
  • Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/12283/henri-louis-bergson : accessed ), memorial page for Henri Louis Bergson (18 Oct 1859–4 Jan 1941), Find a Grave Memorial ID 12283, citing Cimetiere de Garches, Garches, Departement des Hauts-de-Seine, Île-de-France, France ; Maintained by Find A Grave .