Henri Bergson (1859-1941) was one of the most celebrated and influential philosophers of the twentieth century. He was awarded in 1928 the Nobel prize for literature for his philosophical work, and his controversial ideas about time, memory and life shaped generations of thinkers, writers and artists.
In this clear and engaging introduction, Mark Sinclair examines the full range of Bergson's work. The book sheds new light on familiar aspects of Bergson’s thought, but also examines often ignored aspects of his work, such as his philosophy of art, his philosophy of technology and the relation of his philosophical doctrines to his political commitments. After an illuminating overview of his life and work, chapters are devoted to the following topics:
- the experience of time as duration
- the experience of freedom
- mind and body
- laughter and humour
- art and creativity
- the élan vital as a theory of biological life
- ethics, religion, war and modern technology
With a final chapter on his legacy, Bergson is an outstanding guide to one of the great philosophers. Including chapter summaries, annotated further reading and a glossary, it is essential reading for those interested in metaphysics, time, free will, aesthetics, the philosophy of biology, continental philosophy and the role of European intellectuals in World War I.
Table of Contents
A Note on Translations
1. Intellectual Biography
5. Mind and Body
10. Ethics, Religion and Politics
Mark Sinclair is Reader in Philosophy at the University of Roehampton, UK, and Associate Editor at the British Journal for the History of Philosophy. He is the author of Being Inclined: Félix Ravaisson’s Philosophy of Habit (2019) and co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Modern French Philosophy.
"... the publication of Mark Sinclair’s Bergson, an instalment in the Routledge Philosophers series, is a cause for celebration. It is easily the best introduction to Bergson – and one of the very best books on Bergson – in English." - Robert Watt, Philosophy
"Sinclair’s ability to bring Bergson’s philosophy into such a neat framework, as well as its excellent intellectual biography … will, in all likelihood, make this the standard Introduction to Bergson for many years to come." - Wayne Cristaudo, The European Legacy
"Let me cut to the chase: this is an excellent book. Mark Sinclair has pulled off the feat of writing a work that will be useful not only to students (both undergraduate and graduate) but also to professional philosophers interested in Bergson’s ideas and their place in both early and contemporary analytic and continental philosophy. ... This work is not only the best English-language introduction to Bergson available on the market, it’s also a compelling genetic interpretation of his oeuvre with which every scholar of Bergson will need to engage." - Jeremy Dunham, Mind
"This book is an enlightening introduction to Bergson and Sinclair does an impressive job at making the book informative yet simple to read and easy to understand. ... [A] perfect way to familiarize oneself with Bergson topic by topic, where one will see not only the ideas Bergson developed, but also how they were developed throughout Bergson’s life, how he engaged with other philosophers and how later philosophers engaged with Bergson." - Ignas Zemleckas, Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology
"There is more to admire in this rich and thought-provoking book. With its useful glossary, suggestions for further reading, and final chapter on Bergson’s legacy, Sinclair’s Bergson offers much to a Bergsonian beginner, but it also advances a point of view that corrects some of the blind-spots and idiosyncrasies of Anglophone scholarship..." - Michael J. Bennett, Review of Metaphysics
"Sinclair lives up to the promise of providing something for all readers of Bergson, from the absolute beginner to the expert. Bergson is nuanced, expansive, and incredibly thorough. It is a fantastic contribution to the field and those studying Bergson in English would do well to read it." - Miguel Paley, Society of Friends of Bergson
"Providing both careful exposition and judicious evaluation, Mark Sinclair’s Bergson will prove invaluable to students and instructors alike. The book situates Bergson in his historical, philosophical and political contexts, as well as locating where his positions fall in contemporary discussions. Highly recommended." - John Protevi, Louisiana State University, USA
"Mark Sinclair has written a wonderfully accessible and exhaustive introduction to Bergson’s thought. In the style of engaged history of philosophy, Bergson is a remarkable contribution to the ongoing Bergson resurgence and an invaluable resource for readers at all levels." - Donald A. Landes, Université Laval, Canada