Creative Evolution
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Creative Evolution

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  455 ratings  ·  30 reviews
While intelligence treats everything mechanically, instinct proceeds, so to speak, organically. If...we could ask and it could reply, it would give up to us the most intimate secrets of life. -from Chapter II Anticipating not only modern scientific theories of psychology but also those of cosmology, this astonishing book sets out a impressive goal for itself: to reconcile...more
Paperback, 472 pages
Published December 1st 2005 by Cosimo Classics (first published 1907)
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Richard Fulgham
Aug 18, 2009 Richard Fulgham rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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...more
Bob Nichols
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
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...more
Eric Phetteplace
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...more
Drew Gordon
Jul 18, 2007 Drew Gordon rated it 4 of 5 stars
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).
♥ Ibrahim ♥
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
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.
Robin Friedman
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...more
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
Rob Springer
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
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...more
Oct 13, 2008 Selena rated it 4 of 5 stars
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...more
Apr 10, 2008 Andrew added it
Shelves: philosophy
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
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.
Aug 08, 2010 Lis marked it as to-read
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.
Mat Sletten
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.
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
Ben Kearvell
A good introduction to phenomenology. Bergson explores the psychology of time, its effect on evolutionary theory and science in general. Well written.
Nobel prize in 1927, excellent italian translation. A philosophy masterpiece from one of the greatest 20th century thinkers.
Bergson preceds a lot of open systems and biological thinking. Not always formal or rigorous, but still an interesting read.
a thirsty bear could suckle from the juice therein
Daniel Rekshan
This is one of my favorite philosophy books.
Frank Spencer
has a chapter on The Idea of 'Nothing'
need a new copy of this.
Essential Bergson...
Bergson has this writing style that's amazingly clear and simple, until you get 80 pages in and realize he's just destroyed 2000 years of philosophy.
Aug 18, 2012 Erika added it
junior year abroad
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  • Bergsonism
  • Process and Reality
  • Totality and Infinity:  An Essay on Exteriority
  • After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency
  • Margins of Philosophy
  • Philosophical Hermeneutics
  • The World as Will and Representation, Vol 2
  • Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking
  • The Ego and Its Own
  • Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature
  • The Visible and the Invisible
  • The View from Nowhere
  • Critique of Cynical Reason
  • Memory, History, Forgetting
  • Cartesian Meditations: An Introduction to Phenomenology
  • On the Aesthetic Education of Man
Henri Bergson (1859–1941) 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...more
More about Henri Bergson...
Matter and Memory Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic Time and Free Will An Introduction to Metaphysics The Two Sources of Morality and Religion

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