Henri Bergson’s Understanding of Freedom, Science, and Metaphysics

Henri Bergson’s Understanding of Freedom, Science, and Metaphysics

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

The concept of freedom takes on a new meaning in Bergson’s philosophy. According to him, freedom is not a matter of movement and behavior as other sages suggest. Freedom is a becoming, continuous progress and duration in the stride of life. This becoming and progress is free since the duration is not static and discontinuous.

The origin of science is knowledge, it is the whole system established with the possibilities provided by knowledge. Therefore, it is a continuous formation, a progress, a development. A science that is closed to itself and revolving around itself has no validity. That is why “the most important work that a science can usually accomplish is to bring the acquired results into a new unity.” Science can thus be useful to man. This benefit is a necessary result of the relationship that a person establishes with science during his development process. However, the “utility” mentioned here is not in the sense of pragmatism.

Art is a field of creation, so it is related to development and progress. Bergson argued that art should be useful to man, “useless art, like unprofitable thought, is a trinket.” he said. According to him, art is an invention, an object that brings innovation and contributes to development.

However, the “invention” mentioned here means an action based on information data and starting from known objects. Bergson defended the view that even the most recent inventions are to put known objects in order. Known objects are entities in the stream of consciousness, connected with the life impulse, taking part in a continuous stream of development, not some random derivations.

Bergson and Metaphysics

Metaphysics occupies an important place in Bergson’s philosophy, but he adopted a view contrary to metaphysics understood by his “old philosophy” thought system. The subject of philosophy is the whole of life, the unlimited universe that surrounds man. Understanding this universe is also the achievement of intuition. Intuition realizes that life and all reality is a “becoming”.

In reality, there are actions, not objects, and since actions have a quality of “becoming”, they “create being.” The scope of being is much wider than that of the concept of being. The field of existence explained by science is connected with matter, whereas even matter itself is a movement and breakthrough. Movement is of two kinds. One is the “ascending motion” that falls within the scope of the leap of life, the other is the “descending motion” that emerges in the field of matter.

These two types of motion form the basis of existence. It is a creative behavior that splits and splits matter, whereas life is a breakthrough that is not related to space, but rather enters the field of psychology. It is possible to see the similar event arising from the matter-life opposition in the field of consciousness. In this area, the main opposition emerges between intuition and understanding.

Intuition and life are co-directed, understanding is opposite. Hence the organization of the intellect as a being according to matter. The old philosophy could not see this truth and was content with the understanding and the concepts within its scope. This is the reason why he cannot find success by finding a healthy solution to problems.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook