Unlocking the Mind of Henri Bergson: A Biography of a Brilliant Philosopher

Henri Bergson was one of the most renowned philosophers of the 20th century. Known for his contributions to the fields of philosophy, psychology, and metaphysics, he was a trailblazer in his time. His perspective on the nature of consciousness and intuition has had a lasting impact on modern philosophy. In Unlocking the Mind of Henri Bergson: A Biography of a Brilliant Philosopher, we will explore the life and work of this great thinker.

Early Life and Education

Henri Bergson was born on October 18th, 1859 in the Rue Lamartine of the 9th arrondissement of Paris, France. He was the second child of a Polish Jewish family, and his father, Michel Bergson was a musician and composer. Bergson attended the Lycée Fontanes in Paris, and in 1878 he was accepted into the illustrious École Normale Supérieure, where he studied with some of the most prominent scholars of his time. It was at this school that he became interested in philosophy and began to develop his own personality and perspective.

Following his graduation, Henri Bergson began teaching at several schools in France. He also maintained his love of music and continued to perform in his father’s orchestra. He was known as a gifted teacher, and his lectures were highly regarded by his students.

Career and Contributions to Philosophy

Henri Bergson’s first significant work was his doctoral thesis, “Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness,” published in 1889. This thesis challenged the dominant philosophical views of his time, which relied on a mechanistic and deterministic worldview. Instead, Bergson argued for free will, intuition, and the importance of subjective experience over objective rationalism. This thesis also laid the groundwork for Bergson’s concept of duration, which he believed to be the foundation of all reality.

Bergson’s ideas gained influence among philosophers and intellectuals throughout Europe, and in 1900, he was awarded the French Academy’s Grand Prix for his work on the subject of humor. This led to the publication of his second book, “Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic,” in 1901. Here, he explored the nature of humor and how it reflects the human experience, especially the experience of time.

Throughout his career, Henri Bergson emphasized that intuition was a better tool for understanding the world than reason alone. In his 1907 book, “Creative Evolution,” he boldly argued against the mechanistic view of evolution and instead stressed the importance of creativity and individuality in the universe’s development.

During World War I, Bergson was a vocal critic of the mechanistic and scientific view of the world, which he believed had led to the war’s outbreak. He wrote several books and essays about his views and even received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1927.

Bergson’s ideas on intuition and duration continued to be influential among philosophers and artists alike. Artists such as Marcel Proust and James Joyce were inspired by his ideas, and many of his thoughts and concepts influenced the emergence of the art movement of modernism.

Personal Life

Henri Bergson was not only a philosopher, but he was also a devoted family man. In 1891, he married Louise Neuburger, and the couple had two children named Jean and Henriette. Louise was a significant influence on his life and work, and he dedicated several of his books to her.

Bergson also put his philosophy into practice in his personal hobbies, he was an accomplished pianist and devoted time to music. He also enjoyed hiking and spent several summers in the Vosges Mountains. He was known to have a remarkable sense of humor and was generally regarded as a warm and generous person.


Henri Bergson passed away on January 4th, 1941, but his insight and perspective live on through the many philosophers whom he influenced. Unlocking the Mind of Henri Bergson: A Biography of a Brilliant Philosopher has provided an overview of Bergson’s life and work. His contributions to the fields of philosophy, psychology, and metaphysics remain highly regarded, and his ideas continue to influence contemporary philosophy.

Henri Bergson was an innovator in his time, challenging the norms of philosophy and offering a new perspective on the nature of reality, intuition, and time. His insights helped pave the way for modernism in art and literature, and his influence has been a vital force in shaping modern thought. Though he may not have been appreciated in his time, Henri Bergson will always be remembered as a revolutionary philosopher who changed the field of philosophy forever.

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