Bergson and History

Transforming the Modern Regime of Historicity

By Leon ter Schure

Subjects: Continental Philosophy, Philosophy, Historiography, History Of Philosophy, French Studies
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary French Thought
Hardcover : 9781438476230, 280 pages, October 2019
Paperback : 9781438476247, 280 pages, July 2020

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction: History, Presentism, Bergsonism

1. The Case of the London Cenotaph

2. Historiography, Modernity, and the Acceleration of Time

3. Bergson and the Crisis of the Modern Regime of Historicity

4. A World Made Out of Time

5. The Survival of the Past

6. Historical Creation

7. The Dream of Progress

Conclusion: Assessing Presentism


Explores the philosophy of history of Henri Bergson and shows its relevance to contemporary historical thought.


Henri Bergson is famous for his explorations of time as duration, yet he rarely referred to history in his writings. Simultaneously, historians and philosophers of history have generally disregarded Bergson's ideas about the nature of time. Modernity has brought change at an ever-accelerating rate, and one of the results of this has been a tendency toward presentism. Only the here and now matters, as past and future have been absorbed by the "omnipresent present" of the digital age. In highlighting the role of history in the work of Bergson, Bergson and History shows how his philosophy of life allows us to revise the modern conception of history. Bergson's philosophy situates history within a broader framework of life as a creative becoming, allowing us to rethink important topics in the study of history, such as historical time, the survival of the past, and historical progress.

Leon ter Schure is an independent scholar who received his PhD in philosophy from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands.


"Bergson and History is groundbreaking and merits a wide readership in the humanities and social sciences. It is full of fresh and original insights. Ter Schure has read widely and deeply, and there is a productive engagement throughout the book with contemporary resources. " — Keith Ansell-Pearson, author of Bergson: Thinking Beyond the Human Condition