An Introduction to Metaphysics

An Introduction to Metaphysics

An Introduction to Metaphysics

An Introduction to Metaphysics

Excerpt

When Henri Bergson published An Introduction to Metaphysics as an essay in the Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale in 1903, he was already a distinguished figure in French thought. His reputation rested mainly on two works- the one known to the English-speaking world as Time and Free Will (1889), and Matter and Memory (1897). These books contained evidence of a strikingly original philosophy in the making, so that students awaited with interest its further elaboration. The appearance of An Introduction to Metaphysics did not disappoint them. Not only did it carry forward the development of Bergson's doctrine in important respects, but it also pointed the way towards the two major works that were to follow--Creative Evolution (1907) and The Two Sources of Morality and Religion (1932). Thus the essay which is here reproduced stands as a pivotal one in the thought of a leading philosopher of the twentieth century.

The outward details of Bergson's life reveal little that could be called dramatic. His career was almost entirely an adventure in the realm of mind. He was born in Paris on October 18, 1859, of an English mother and a Polish father. From the latter, who was an accomplished musician, he doubtless inherited something of the artistic temperament which is reflected throughout his books. In the course of the excellent education he received, his studies embraced the fields of literature, the natural sciences and philosophy. The scholastic record he left behind him was one of uniform brilliance. It was therefore not surprising that after obtaining the degree of Agrégé in 1881, he should have been appointed professor of philosophy at the Angers Lycée. A history of steady advancement by way of various other positions ensued; and the culminating point was reached in 1900 when he was elected to . . .

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