Russell reading Bergson

In Mark Sinclair & Yaron Wolf (eds.), The Bergsonian Mind. Oxon: Routledge. pp. 350-366 (2021)
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This chapter examines Bertrand Russell’s various confrontations with Bergson’s work. Russell’s meetings with Bergson during 1911 would be followed in 1912 by the publication of Russell’s earliest polemical pieces. His 1912 review of Bergson’s Laughter ridicules the effort to develop a philosophical account of humour on the basis of some formula. In his 1912 “The Philosophy of Bergson”, Russell develops a series of objections against Bergson’s accounts of number, space, and duration. Bergson’s position is defended against Russell’s onslaught by H. W. Carr (1913) and Karin Costelloe-Stephen (1914), though Russell only replies to the former. By contrast to Bergson’s silence in the face of Russell’s criticisms, Russell would continue responding to Bergson’s views in multiple works during the 1910s and 1920s. As this chapter shows, Russell not only develops further objections against specific theses upheld by Bergson, but also comments upon the political implications of Bergson’s philosophy, as well as its positioning within the history of French philosophy.

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Andreas Vrahimis
University of Cyprus


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