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Creative Evolution

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  680 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Henri Bergson (1859-1941) is one of the truly great philosophers of the modernist period, and there is currently a major renaissance of interest in his unduly neglected texts and ideas amongst philosophers, literary theorists, and social theorists.
Creative Evolution (1907) is the text that made Bergson world-famous in his own lifetime; in it Bergson responds to the challen
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published August 15th 2007 by Palgrave Macmillan (first published 1907)
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Richard Fulgham
Aug 18, 2009 Richard Fulgham rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those who need scientific rationale to believe in a creative God
Recommended to Richard by: My old friend and fellow philosopher Tim Browning
This book must be read slowly and deliberately -- do so and it will give you an insight into the brilliance of one of the most revolutionary and extraordinarily perceptive philosopher scientists of the 20th Century, IMO.
Bergson changed the way scientists see the world by introducing his conception of an "original impetus", which began simply (if "intelligently") and evolved matter into living, increasingly complex lifeforms and concurrently evolved an increasingly complex consciousness within
Bob Nichols
Jan 18, 2010 Bob Nichols rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Evolution, Bergson argues, is characterized by the progressive development of freedom, which culminates in human consciousness and the capacity for choice about how interaction with the environment will occur. Bergson's second theme is that the impulse that underlies evolution's movement toward freedom is energy. All life is energy. Energy is activity and mobility. Energy is the push behind how that activity will occur. Energy and freedom come together. Energy matches up with instinct and intell ...more
Aug 08, 2007 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Bergson's thesis is that Darwinian and Lamarkian evolution are only half the story and that there is a creative urge inherent in life that defines the direction of evolution. It is distinguished from Creationism in that his system does not posit and eschaton or final perfect form, nor an external agent (God).

It has some similarity with biologist Rupert Sheldrake's theory of morphic fields. In his theory, there is an energy field (as yet undetected by modern physics) that controls the shape of or
Nowhere near as important or relevant today as Matter and Memory, I'd say, but still the work of a sophisticated philosopher who easily outshines most of his fellows of the continental school of Philosophy.

The chapter on Nothing is interesting. I don't particularly agree with him, mostly because he fails to look at the concept with the precision of an analytic philosopher such as Meinong, whose category of "subsistence," if accepted by Bergson, would probably radically alter the chapter on Noth
Mahmoud Haggui
creative evolution, a philosophical theory espoused early in the 20th century by Henri Bergson, a French process metaphysician (one who emphasizes becoming, change, and novelty), in his Évolution créatrice (1907; Creative Evolution). The theory presented an evolution in which a free emergence of the individual intelligence could be recognized. It was thus wholly distinct from previous deterministic hypotheses that were either mechanistic or teleological and represented evolution as conditioned e ...more
Robin Friedman
Aug 19, 2013 Robin Friedman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to reread Henri Bergson's "Creative Evolution" after reading William James. Although best known for his development of pragmatism, James had a highly speculative side late in his career, and he praised Bergson highly in his book, "A Pluralistic Universe." Although they have serious differences, both Bergson and James share an emphasis on a stream of consciousness view of the mind, and on the importance of freedom, chance, and indeterminacy.

Bergson wrote "Creative Evolution" in 1907. At
Dorian Neerdael
Un des livres principaux de Bergson où celui-ci tente de déployer son ontologie du devenir, avec l'importance qu'il accorde habituellement à la durée. La philosophie ne peut pas faire l'impasse sur les avancées scientifiques et doit admettre les conséquences de l'évolutionnisme darwinien. La philosophie doit abandonner la métaphysique traditionnelle d'un absolu fermé sur lui-même, au profit d'un monde dont la valeur principale est la création, c'est-à-dire la liberté, la croissance et le changem ...more
Eric Phetteplace
May 18, 2013 Eric Phetteplace rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
I should've read this book earlier, it would have helped lay a foundation for Deleuze (who leans heavily on Bergson's term "becoming") and I would have been more receptive to the optimistic tone. As it is, I enjoyed the it and the book has aged fairly well, as concepts like duration and the creative nature of life are still counterpoints to many prevailing theories.
That said, I've come to a point where unnecessary valorization of life and humanity just aren't compelling anymore. Bergson not only
Oct 13, 2008 Selena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Science enthusiasts/philosophers
There is an almost indefinable line between instinct and intellect. The uneducated farm boy may teach himself extraordinary innovation, where the scholar may not be able to raise a fern, and vice versa. It's empowering to realize the difference, the similiarity, and the fine line in between because it helps us to better understand ourselves, each other, and our world.
Also, this book is very hopeful, as it plays into the philosophy of the seemingly random creations of chaos.
You will probably need
Czarny Pies
Jan 04, 2015 Czarny Pies rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Teilhard de Chardin
Recommended to Czarny by: Marcel Proust
Shelves: philosophy
I had been meaning to read something by Bergson for some time primarily because he was the cousin of Marcel Proust. L'evolutin creatrice proved to proving to be an unexpected delight. It contains the ideas presented by Teilhard de Chardin in le Phenomene humaine in an embryonic form. Bergson argues that evolution is not the result of accidents but due to the "elan vital" of living things. Essentially Bergson argues that species evolve because they choose to do so. Teilhard de Chardin modifies Be ...more
Drew Gordon
Jul 18, 2007 Drew Gordon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the curious
Dense, but it's a good example of original thought. It is rewarding and makes you feel like you're climbing a ladder of smart; especially when all of the epiphanies are set out in italics. Although, like most French philosophers, the last chapter is incomprehensible because it is basically a personal statement to one of his contemporaries (see: Archeology of Knowledge by Michel Foucault).
Aug 08, 2010 Lis marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wish-list
henry miller states in tropic of capricorn that this book changed his life. i usually jot down books mentioned in other books, and seeing as how the other literary references henry makes (dante, dostoevski) are among my favorites, when he goes on for a few pages talking about the extraordinary impact of a book he barely understood, i figure i better check it out.
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Jun 17, 2008 ♥ Ibrahim ♥ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
This book in its own way, like many of Bergson's works, is a work of apologetics to help those who don't believe in God or who eliminate the whole idea altogether. I would read the chapter on Bergson in Will Duran't Story of Philosophy first and then plunge into this masterpiece of his.
Paul Toth
Jun 09, 2008 Paul Toth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant, if occasionally outdated. Don't read this for insight into evolution. Read it to learn how to see the world with a constant sense of renewal.
Hassan Barrak
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ahmed Hamad
Aug 06, 2015 Ahmed Hamad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the major crises we are facing today is the division of the "mind" and the "soul". There were those that proclaimed "power" over the souls through organized and institutionalized religions for centuries (which still exists in some regions today). Science had become a tool to be used by the authority, or a game they'd let the little kids get busy with so long as it does not go against the teachings of those religions. But amidst it all, science continued to grow exponentially everywhere on ...more
Roberto Rigolin Ferreira Lopes
This book is challenging like a high intensity workout, you better come with all you have. Bergson lost me several times in the first chapter; I had to adapt to his fancy prose and complex constructions. He was discussing adaptation anyway. I am on full sweat here, however, enjoyed the science discussion all the way up starting from instinct and intelligence at origin of life.
Rob Springer
Aug 23, 2009 Rob Springer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a turning point in my attempts to come to grips with the God of the Bible and evolution. Not that Bergson talks about the God of the Bible, but he does a good job destroying evolution as something that can happen on its own. What we see as creatures changing from one form to the other is really part of a continuous movement. To freeze it and say "this is a protohuman and this is a human" (and to do that with any life form) is to stop an arrow in flight and say "now it is here, now ...more
Man, this was a bit of a buzzkill... when Bergson frees himself from trying to write about biology or physics, he makes sense. For most of the book, however, he just comes off as an irrationalist. While I appreciate his contributions to Deleuzean ideas (especially his metaphysics of difference), this was by and large a grim slog. If you're interested in the link between Bergson and later philosophies, read the brief section on the elan vital and the metaphysical and epistemological concepts in C ...more
Apr 11, 2016 Gareth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent challenge to what we think about how we think. Bergson weaves together instinct intellect and intuition into an understanding that also draws in life, matter, science and evolution as a challenge to those who see thought as having a simply rational basis. A powerful provocation to consider how even thought has a history and a bias, this book will change the way you think about the way you think.
Malini Sridharan
his discussion of bio evo makes the scientist in me want to puke. I don't buy into any impulse toward development of consciousness or realization of preexisting tendencies to store or release energy etc. in that arena. But his ideas about the abstract and duration wrt our existing consciousness and intelligence are pretty compelling. the bio evo thoughts can't really be teased apart from the rest, so mixed feelings overall.
Darran Mclaughlin
I feel like a bit of a philistine but I read the first 40 pages or so and found it so boring I decided to give up. I have no interest in philosophers theorising about science using logic and language games. I am interested in what philosophers have to say about the foundations of science, or the consequences of science, but not in developing their own scientific theories.
Mat Sletten
Jul 11, 2012 Mat Sletten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books, this is a fantastic meditation on how our visual experience informs our epistemology. It also works as a thesis on film language and the evolution of digitalism. Read this book if you have an interest in post-modern fiction, philosophy, or film.
Sep 30, 2008 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Only read part. Time as Duration and crap like that. Kind of interesting. Use your Intuition. I could definetly see the spiritual, which was cool--didn't bring that up in class though. Easier to read than Time and Free Will
Brian Bailey
May 01, 2016 Brian Bailey rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I gave this one star only because I just couldn't understand the concepts that Bergson was getting into. I will one day pick this book up again and try to delve into it but not in this year.
Ben Kearvell
Jan 13, 2013 Ben Kearvell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good introduction to phenomenology. Bergson explores the psychology of time, its effect on evolutionary theory and science in general. Well written.
Oct 10, 2012 Caterina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nobel prize in 1927, excellent italian translation. A philosophy masterpiece from one of the greatest 20th century thinkers.
Mar 31, 2011 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Bergson preceds a lot of open systems and biological thinking. Not always formal or rigorous, but still an interesting read.
Aug 15, 2012 Derek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I blogged about it here:
Feb 16, 2009 Andrew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
a thirsty bear could suckle from the juice therein
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  • After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency
  • Totality and Infinity:  An Essay on Exteriority
  • The Three Ecologies
  • Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences Into Democracy
  • Essays in Radical Empiricism
  • Deleuze: The Clamor of Being
  • The Accursed Share 2-3: The History of Eroticism and Sovereignty
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Henri Bergson was one of the most famous and influential French philosophers of the late 19th century-early 20th century. Although his international fame reached cult-like heights during his lifetime, his influence decreased notably after the second World War. While such French thinkers as Merleau-Ponty, Sartre, and Lévinas explicitly acknowledged his influence on their thought, it is generally ag ...more
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“Pour un être conscient, exister consiste à changer, changer à se mûrir, se mûrir à se créer indéfiniment soi-même.” 6 likes
“psychical life is neither unity nor multiplicity, that it transcends both the mechanical and the intellectual, mechanism and finalism having meaning only where there is "distinct multiplicity," "spatiality," and consequently assemblage of pre-existing parts: "real duration" signifies both undivided continuity and creation.” 0 likes
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