Bergson, Henri-Louis (1859–1941)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DD008-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 01, 2022, from

4. Process philosophy

Process philosophy is a philosophical tradition which goes back as far as Heraclitus, and if Bergson can be placed in any tradition, it is in this, despite his repudiation of allegiance to Heraclitus. Process philosophy stands in opposition to the tradition stemming from Aristotle’s scheme of categories, where the world consists of substances which have properties and undergo change. For process philosophy the world consists of processes, and Bergson often says things like, ‘There are changes, but there are underneath the change no things which change… movement does not imply a mobile’ ([1934] 1946: 173). Objects are like ‘snapshots’ of a flux, which is duration. This echo of the cinematographic approach of science illustrates another feature of Bergson: his pragmatism. He does not deny that language (itself a pragmatic device for dealing with the world) uses the Aristotelian apparatus of subject and predicate, but we see the world in terms of objects which change because that is the only way we can act in it, just as science gives us our only way of manipulating it.

Citing this article:
Lacey, A.R.. Process philosophy. Bergson, Henri-Louis (1859–1941), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DD008-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2022 Routledge.