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Bergson and Time

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the ideas of Henri Bergson on how our experience of time as a duration differs from the scientific measurement of time, and why that matters.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859-1941) and his ideas about human experience of time passing and how that differs from a scientific measurement of time, set out in his thesis on 'Time and Free Will' in 1889. He became famous in France and abroad for decades, rivalled only by Einstein and, in the years after the Dreyfus Affair, was the first ever Jewish member of the Académie Française. It's thought his work influenced Proust and Woolf, and the Cubists. He died in 1941 from a cold which, reputedly, he caught while queuing to register as a Jew, refusing the Vichy government's offer of exemption.


Keith Ansell-Pearson
Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick

Emily Thomas
Assistant Professor in Philosophy at Durham University


Mark Sinclair
Reader in Philosophy at the University of Roehampton

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Available now

51 minutes

Last on

Thu 9 May 2019 21:30


Keith Ansell-Pearson at the University of Warwick

Emily Thomas at Durham University

Mark Sinclair at the University of Roehampton

Henri Bergson (trans. F. L. Pogson), Time and Free Will (first published in French 1889; George Allen and Unwin, 1910)

‘Bergson on the Time of Memory’ by Keith Ansell-Pearson

Henri Bergson - Wikipedia



Keith Ansell-Pearson, Bergson and the Time of Life (Routledge, 2002)

Keith Ansell-Pearson, Bergson; Thinking Beyond the Human Condition (Bloomsbury Press, 2018)

Henri Bergson (ed. K. Ansell-Pearson and J. Mullarkey), Key Writings (Bloomsbury, 2014)

Henri Bergson, Time and Free Will (first published 1889; Adamant Media Corporation, 2000)

Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory (first published 1896; Martino Fine Books, 2011)

Henri Bergson, Creative Evolution (first published 1907; Dover Press, 2003)

Henri Bergson, The Two Sources of Morality and Religion (first published 1932; Andesite Press, 2017)

Jimena Canales, The Physicist and the Philosopher: Einstein, Bergson, and the Debate That Changed Our Understanding of Time (Princeton University Press, 2015)

Michael Foley, Life Lessons from Bergson (Macmillan, 2013)

Suzanne Guerlac, Thinking in Time: An Introduction to Henri Bergson (Cornell University Press, 2006)

William James, Bergson and his Critique of Intellectualism (first published 1909; Kessinger Publishing, 2010)

Vladimir Jankelevitch, Henri Bergson (Duke University Press, 2015)

Lezek Kolakowski, Bergson (Oxford University Press, 1985)

David Lapoujade, Powers of Time: Versions of Bergson (University of Minnesota Press, 2018)

Heath Massey, The Origin of Time: Heidegger and Bergson (State University of New York Press, 2015)

Tom Quirk, Bergson and American Culture (University of North Carolina Press, 1990)

Mark Sinclair, Bergson (Routledge, forthcoming Sept 2019)

Raymond Tallis, Of Time and Lamentation (Agenda Publishing, 2017)

Virginia Woolf, Moments of Being (Pimlico, 2002)


  • Thu 9 May 2019 09:00
  • Thu 9 May 2019 21:30

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