Bergson’s Amendment of the Classical Biological Theory of Knowledge

  • Milič Čapek
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 7)


The biological orientation of Bergson’s epistemology has been already mentioned; so was his own admission of Spencer’s influence on his thought. It remains to be shown in what sense and to what degree Bergson’s epistemology went beyond the classical biological theory of knowledge sketched in the preceding paragraphs. As is the case with Spencer, Helmholtz, Mach and Poincare, Bergson accepts the view that the present form of human intellect is a result of the gradual evolutionary adaptation of the human psychophysical organism to the order of nature. But is this adaptation complete? Is the objective order of nature represented adequately, completely and without distortion in the present Newtonian-Euclidian form of human intellect? This is the question which Bergson raised, the question which Spencer answered affirmatively or rather did not even raise, so obvious did the answer appear to him. Although Helmholtz, Mach and Poincare sometimes asked to what extent our cognitive forms correspond to the objective features of nature, they did it only occasionally or hesitatingly, without challenging in any radical way the basic dogmas of the nineteenth century mechanistic science.


Sense Organ Modern Physic Sensory Perception Biological Theory Creative Evolution 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1971

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  • Milič Čapek

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