Translated by Mabelle L. Andison in collaboration with J. Gordon AndisonPresented by Ralph McInerny
This incisive critique of the thought of Henri Bergson is Jacques Maritain’s first book. In it he shows himself already to have an authoritative grasp of the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas and an uncanny ability to show its relevance to alternative systems such as that of Bergson.
It would be difficult to overestimate the role that Bergson played in helping French philosophy extricate itself from the deadening materialism which had dominated the Sorbonne. It was that materialism that brought Jacques and Raissa Maritain to the brink of suicide. They drew back for two major reasons. First was the lectures of Henri Bergson in the College de France. Here was an alternative to the thought that had made them suicidal. The second great reason was Leon Bloy and their subsequent conversion to Catholicism.
It was not long before their Catholicism turned them to the thought of Thomas Aquinas. When Maritain compared Bergson and Thomas, he was immediately struck by the weaknesses of the former. This book is a relentless criticism of the philosophy of the man whose lectures had meant so much to Maritain. It is a young man’s book and twenty-five years later Maritain, while not retracting his criticisms, regretted their triumphal tone. Bergson himself came into the Church on his deathbed. Knowledge of this doubtless caused Maritain to recognize a harmony beyond criticisms of this book.
Bergsonian Philosophy and Thomism presents us with a philosopher who mastered his craft, a Thomist who acquired the mind of Thomas himself, and a critic of rare perception and refinement.
“Maritain’s (1882–1973) first published book was La Philosophie Bergsonienne (1913), which so harshly criticized Henri Bergson that he made a point of urging readers of his later books to study him. It also established his credentials as a major commentator on the thought of Thomas Aquinas.” — Reference and Research Book News