The aim of this little work is practical, and it is put forth in the hope that it may be useful to the general reader and to the student of philosophy as an introduction and guide to the study of Bergson’s thought. The war has led many to an interest in philosophy and to a study of its problems. Few modern thinkers will be found more fascinating, more suggestive and stimulating than Bergson, and it is hoped that perusal of the following pages will lead to a study of the writings of the philosopher himself. This is a work whose primary aim is the clear exposition of Bergson’s ideas, and the arrangement of chapters has been worked out strictly with that end in view. An account of his life is prefixed. An up-to-date bibliography is given, mainly to meet the needs of English readers; all the works of Bergson which have appeared in England or America are given, and the comprehensive list of articles is confined to English and American publications. The concluding chapters endeavour to estimate the value of Bergson’s thought in relation to Politics (especially Syndicalism), Ethics, Religion, and the development of thought generally.
My thanks are due to Professor Mair, Professor of Philosophy in the University of Liverpool, for having read the MS. while in course of preparation, for contributing an introduction, for giving some helpful criticism and suggestions, and, what is more, for stimulus and encouragement given over several years of student life.
Professor Bergson has himself expressed his approval of the general form of treatment, and I am indebted to him for information on a number of points. To Dr. Gillespie, Professor of Philosophy at Leeds, I am indebted for a discussion of most of the MS. following the reading of it. My thanks are also due to Miss Margaret Linn, whose energetic and careful assistance in preparing the MS. for the press was invaluable. I wish also to acknowledge kindness shown in supplying information on certain points in connexion with the bibliography by Mr. F. C. Nicholson, Librarian of the University of Edinburgh, by Mr. R. Rye, Librarian to the University of London, and by the University of London Press. I am grateful to Professor Bergson and to the Delegates of the Oxford University Press for permission to quote from La Perception du Changement, the lectures given at Oxford. Further I must acknowledge permission accorded to me by the English publishers of Bergson’s works to quote passages directly from these authorized translations–To Messrs. Geo. Allen & Unwin, Ltd. (Time and Free Will and Matter and Memory), to Messrs. Macmillan & Co., Ltd. (Creative Evolution, Laughter, Introduction to Metaphysics), and to T. Fisher Unwin, Ltd. (Dreams). Through the kindness of M. Louis Michaud, the Paris publisher, I have been enabled to reproduce (from his volume of selections, Henri Bergson: Choix de textes et etude de systeme philosophique, Gillouin) a photograph of Bergson hitherto unpublished in this country.
THE UNIVERSITY, LIVERPOOL March, 1920