Bergson: Thinking Beyond the Human Condition

Reviewed by Don Landes at NDPR. A quick peak:

Henri Bergson occupies an intriguing place in the history of philosophy. Despite being the most famous philosopher during his lifetime and possessing a lucid and engaging style of philosophical reflection, his importance has nonetheless waxed and waned with the times. Perhaps this is not surprising, given that Bergson’s philosophy requires a constant attempt to resist dogmatic or static thinking in the face of the inevitability of this tendency. Nevertheless, not only have many of his concepts sedimented into our collective philosophical lexicon, but Bergson has also had a marked influence on specific thinkers (such as Merleau-Ponty and Deleuze) and on developments outside of philosophy. Following Gary Gutting’s description, Ansell-Pearson suggests that Bergson’s enduring greatness perhaps lies in his unique “combination of descriptive concreteness and systematic scope and metaphysical ambition” (1). His philosophy is a call to a going beyondof philosophy and the human condition, since traditional approaches to the problems of philosophy “presuppose a subject already installed in being” and thus already located within the confines of the human condition (ibid.).