Henri Bergson

Professor, Collège de France, Paris

The Problem of Personality

As Bergson’s lectures were never published, and his papers were destroyed after his death, we are left with only the title of his lectures. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy wrote: ‘Unfortunately, Bergson had written a will during the 1930s which instructed that all of his papers be destroyed’. Bergson’s personal library is stored at Librairie Jacques Doucet on the Place de Panthéon in Paris. 


Henri Bergson was born on 18 October 1859 in Paris. One of the most influential French philosophers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, his most enduring contribution is his concept of multiplicity. He began teaching in Angers at the lycée in 1881, and then moved to the University Clermont-Ferrand. In 1881, he accepted a teaching post at the Lycée Henri-Quatre, followed by École Normale, becoming Professor in 1898. He was appointed Chair of Ancient Philosophy at Collège de France in 1900, where he remained until his retirement. 

Elected a member of the French Academy in 1914, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1927. In defiance of the Nazis and their conquest of France, Bergson gave up all positions and renounced his many honours shortly before his death. Notable works include La Philosophie de la Poesie: le Génie de Lucrèce (1884), Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience (1889), Matière et mémoire (1896), Le rire (1900), L’Évolution créatrice (1907), L’Énergie spirituelle (1919), Durée et simultanéité (1922), and Les Deux Sources de la Morale et de la Religion (1932).