Bergson’s Philosophy of Self-Overcoming

Thinking without Negativity or Time as Striving

  • Messay Kebede

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-vii
  2. Messay Kebede
    Pages 1-9
  3. Messay Kebede
    Pages 51-85
  4. Messay Kebede
    Pages 87-132
  5. Messay Kebede
    Pages 133-174
  6. Messay Kebede
    Pages 175-214
  7. Messay Kebede
    Pages 215-272
  8. Messay Kebede
    Pages 273-277
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 279-291

About this book


“In this highly original study Messay Kebede shows himself to be an incisive and instructive reader of Bergson. He ably shows the enduring philosophical value of Bergson’s philosophy and its pertinence to core philosophical problems. Especially impressive is the way he brings Bergson into rapport with thinkers and practices of philosophy from Nietzsche to phenomenology. The book is a most welcome contribution to the ongoing renaissance of interest in Bergson.” 
Keith Ansell-Pearson, University of Warwick, UK

“With a new wave of Bergson scholarship emerging, Kebede’s timely book will be both welcomed by and challenging to Bergson scholars. Rigorously navigating Bergson’s major concepts, Kebede uses the notion of self-overcoming to open up new ways of understanding Bergson and resolving many of the tensions within the receptions of Bergson’s philosophy. This is necessary reading for Bergson scholars.”
Mark William Westmoreland, Villanova University, USA 


This book proposes a new reading of Bergsonism based on the admission that time, conceived as duration, stretches instead of passes. This swelling time is full and so excludes the negative. Yet, swelling requires some resistance, but such that it is more of a stimulant than a contrariety. The notion of élan vital fulfills this requirement: it states the immanence of life to matter, thereby deriving the swelling from an internal effort and allowing its conceptualization as self-overcoming. With self-overcoming as the inner dynamics of reality, Bergson dismisses all forms of dualism and reductionist monism because both the absence of negativity and the swelling nature of time posit a creative process yielding a qualitatively diverse world. This graded oneness is how the lower level activates intensification by turning into limitation, making possible higher levels of achievement, in particular through the union of mind and body and the integration of openness and closed sociability.


self-overcoming french philosophy free will matter and memory creative evolution

Authors and affiliations

  • Messay Kebede
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of DaytonDaytonUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Religion and Philosophy
  • Print ISBN 978-3-030-15486-8
  • Online ISBN 978-3-030-15487-5
  • Buy this book on publisher's site