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Creative Evolution

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,125 ratings  ·  65 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 23rd 2005 by Cosimo Classics (first published 1907)
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Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
T.S. Eliot, Ash Wednesday

When Eliot penned these pensive lines in the Thirties, he meant by ‘stair’ The Stairway of Perfection, an amazing mystical book written by the great medieval author Walter Hilton.

The THIRD Stair evokes the infamously treacherous False Dawn one thinks one sees, as a believer, during what a few centuries later would be described by Juan d
Richard Fulgham
Nov 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
240716: i do not know what to say about this work, i do not follow it all, it might be closer to a 3, but the writing is very good. the introduction hails bergson as 'the most serious philosopher of life of the 20th century...', and makes a good argument for his continuing relevance, his unique approach, all of it down to his approach to time- 'duree'- and valourization of 'intuition'. as i am not studying him but have read a few by and a few on bergson, i can see how difficult, how contrary, hi ...more
Bob Nichols
Jan 18, 2010 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
robin friedman
Aug 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An Important Early Work Of Twentieth Century Philosophy

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 indete
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What’s that space that floats between each of your thoughts, you know the similar thing that exists between the essence of you and that of the outside world? I’m going to call it the ‘ontological difference’. Bergson explains it as a process of creative evolution.

Instinct is using the order that already exists. Intelligence is using the unordered. The intuition closes the gap between the essential and the accident and of the form without matter. There is a difference of kind as well as levels in
Jul 07, 2007 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
Mar 04, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Creative Evolution (1907) is arguably Henri Bergson’s most matured and comprehensive account of reality. In it, he draws heavily from his earlier works Time and Free Will (1889) and Matter and Memory (1896), and intertwines his views on time, space, matter and mind with the (then new) evolutionary biology. The result is a very original framework with which to view the world.

Bergson won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1927, and this is a very important landmark. It shows Bergson’s artistic tale
Apr 10, 2019 added it
Henri Bergson is perhaps the most famous of the philosophers who fall under the label of vitalism, whose most basic tenet is that the procedures of science, dealing with material objects, is inappropriate to living organisms and especially that aspect of life called consciousness. Since most of the academics in the Western tradition think otherwise, it is fitting, I think, that much of Creative Evolution should be taken up with why they do so. I cannot sum up Bergson's premise better than this p ...more
Many times it's not the complexity of the concepts but the opacity of the style that keeps philosophical discourse confined to ivory towers and dusty bookshelves. Then, every so often, comes along a philosopher who can actually string a few a sentences together and has something to say. Bergson is more than that, and it becomes more clear as the text progresses. It may be kind of slough getting through all the biologism of the first chapter, but hang in there, it get's better. It should be noted ...more
Aug 08, 2010 marked it as to-read
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.
Otto Lehto
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Bergson's most famous book is mesmerizing and visionary. It is also partially unscientific, unverifiable, and mystical. It looks at how time, consciousness, and evolution can be rethought beyond the formal confines of post-Kantian philosophy and positivism in science. The central idea is that the universe is shaped by an original impetus, an élan vital, that underlies creative evolution and that leads to the birth of novelty and differentiation in cosmic history. This creative evolution cannot b ...more
August Denys
This book has a lot of greatness in it that may have been lost to time. It does have its drawbacks which is the main reason I gave this four stars instead of five: Chapter 1's biology is definitely of its time and depends on the reads own familiarity to discern if what he states follows, and there isn't a strong finish to the book, it doesn't feel like a conclusion. However, what is great about this book is that its positions are stated and written well. The book picks up pace halfway through ch ...more
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
Czarny Pies
Jan 03, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Teilhard de Chardin
Recommended to Czarny by: Marcel Proust
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
Eric Phetteplace
Sep 18, 2008 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
Sep 10, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Oct 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jerry Pogan
Sep 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book was written in 1907 and shows the almost complete lack of scientific knowledge that we take for granted today. Bergson relied almost entirely on philosophy to discuss evolution and biology because there were not that many scientific facts known regarding how various systems worked. That was probably the most enjoyable part of the book, seeing the incredible accumulation of knowledge over the past 100 years that has occurred.
Drew Gordon
Jul 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
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). ...more
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Jun 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Paul Toth
Jun 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Jun 13, 2019 rated it liked it
I need to read this again, eventually, with more attention given to the arguments, and more understanding of the topics Bergson deals with. (Context matters). It's always the case with philosophy, and even more so with those that are old- and possibly outdated- that the science and arguments have not aged particularly well given the advancements made in other fields: Physics, Biology, History, Mathematics etc.

Bergson first popped onto my radar almost a decade ago, and while I can't exactly recal
Jan 11, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I appreciate Bergson as someone who sits somewhere between Lucretius and Descartes. His ideas are interesting, especially when applied by Deleuze.
This book's main content consists of a de-anthropomorphized and secularized watchmaker's argument. I could take or leave this, I guess. I found the long passages on biology and different evolutionary theories to be a slog at best and made me worry that I was being duped at worst.
I kind of felt going into this one that it wouldn't really be the Bergson
Uladzimir Piatryka
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
It looks like Bergson try to articulate informally something that later was discovered as chaos theory and dynamic systems in math and physics.
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to anyone who is concious and sees value in being such.
Karim Kadry
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully, but catastrophically wrong
Casey Carter
Apr 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not an easy read but very rewarding with lots of dog eared pages. Extra applicable insights into Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Spinoza etc..
Forked Radish
Apr 20, 2021 marked it as available
Oxymoronic in its very title, not a good beginning... Bergson tends to flocculate instead of clarify.
Muaz Jalil
Mar 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
It's a fascinating book. Very few philosophers use biology as their vehicle for exposition. His analogies are spot on and thought provoking. If I understand correctly, he discusses early version of emergence principle, where whole is bigger than the sum of parts. ...more
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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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