The use of useless knowledge: Bergson against the pragmatists Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Henri Bergson and William James were great admirers of each other, and James seemed to think he got valuable ideas from Bergson. But early critics were right to see in Bergson the antithesis of pragmatism. Unfolding this antithesis is a convenient way to study important concepts and innovations in Bergson's philosophy. I concentrate on his ideas of duration and intuition, and show how they prove the necessity of going beyond pragmatism. The reason is because knowledge itself goes beyond the utilitarian limitations in which pragmatism confines it. Knowledge is more than utility, more than adaptation, more than pragmatism, because our cognitive powers prove capable of more than any naturally selected service to survival.

publication date

  • 2013