Henri Bergson’s Creative Evolution and 20th-Century Biology

Lunchtime Lectures
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
1:00 p.m.–1:45 p.m. EDT (UTC -4)

In 1907, French philosopher Henri Bergson published Creative Evolution. The book propelled him to international fame and he counted many biologists among his thousands of readers. However, historians of biology have generally minimized or ignored the different ways in which biologists read Bergson. This talk will show that Bergson mattered a great deal to many important 20th-century biologists who believed that the questions raised by their research—the origins of life, the nature of heredity, and the future of the human species—were inherently philosophical. By making biology the most philosophical of all sciences, Bergson gave them precious intellectual tools to explore life beyond the boundaries of science.



Emily Herring headshot

Emily Herring

About the Speaker

Emily Herring is a historian of science and philosophy. She received her PhD from the University of Leeds in January 2020. She is currently under contract with Basic Books to write the first biography of Henri Bergson in English.

About the Series

Now combined with our Saturday Speaker Series, Lunchtime Lectures take a rigorous and entertaining approach to exploring topics for scholars and anyone interested in stories about the history of science. The talks help expand perceptions of the nature of science and how it’s done. This season focuses on the human lives behind biological research.