Creative Evolution (book)  

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"Nature arrives at identical results, in sometimes neighboring species, by entirely different embryogenic processes. . . , The retina of the vertebrate is produced by an expansion of the rudimentary brain of the embryo. ... In the mollusc, on the contrary, the retina is derived from the ectoderm directly. ... If the crystalline lens of a Triton be removed, it is regenerated by the iris. Now the original lens was built out of the ectoderm, while the iris is of mesodermal origin. What is more, in the Salamandra maculata, if the lens be removed and the iris left, the regeneration of the lens takes place at the upper part of the iris ; but if this upper part of the iris itself be taken away, the regeneration takes place in the inner or retinal layer of the remaining region. Thus parts differently situated, differently constituted, meant normally for different functions, are capable of performing the same duties and even of manufacturing, when necessary, the same pieces of the machine."--Creative Evolution (book) (1907) by Henri Bergson

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Creative Evolution (L'Evolution créatrice) is a 1907 book by French philosopher Henri Bergson. Its English translation appeared in 1911. The book provides an alternate explanation for Darwin's mechanism of evolution, suggesting that evolution is motivated by an élan vital, a "vital impetus" that can also be understood as humanity's natural creative impulse. The book was very popular in the early decades of the twentieth century, before the Neodarwinian synthesis was developed.

The book also develops concepts of time (offered in Bergson's earlier work) which significantly influenced modernist writers and thinkers such as Marcel Proust. For example, Bergson's term "duration" refers to a more individual, subjective experience of time, as opposed to mathematical, objectively measurable "clock time." In Creative Evolution, Bergson suggests that the experience of time as "duration" can best be understood through creative intuition, not through intellect.

Harvard philosopher William James intended to write the introduction to the English translation of the book, but died in 1910 prior to its completion.

Publication data

  • Henri Bergson, Creative Evolution (1911) tr. Arthur Mitchell, Henry Holt and Company
  • 1944, Modern Library, Random House
  • 1998, Dover Publications, ISBN 0-486-40036-0
  • 2005, Cosimo Classics, ISBN 0-76076548-0

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Creative Evolution (book)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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