Supplementary Pieces 253
But the trend of German philosophy after the last war has contributed
to spreading among our younger readers a caricature in which Bergson
appears as a distinguished spiritualist, a little master of philosophy who
sounds out anterior duration and does not go beyond qualitative and
psychological notation. Nothing could be more wrong. Bergson’s phi-
losophy is a philosophy of the avant- garde, as we just saw.
Bergson is often accused of not having “committed” himself sufficiently.
Those citizens who today talk most about commitment [engagement] are
not necessarily those who, during the Résistance, were themselves the
most committed. During the war of 1914–18, Bergson openly and emphati-
cally took sides against Germany. And for that, the Germanophiles were
angry with him for a long time. He committed himself in words and in
actions. He completed missions in Spain and in the United States, twice,
where he had im por tant conversations with President Wilson. Julien Cain
has reminded us of his actions on the Conseil suprême de l’instruction pub-
lique [Supreme Council for Public Education], on which he served from
1919 to 1925, and of his role at the helm of the International Committee
on Intellectual Cooperation, which was created by the League of Na-
tions Assembly and whose princi ple was taken up in 1946, in the form
of unesco. In 1925, Bergson secured the creation of a permanent branch
of the Commission in Paris: the International Institute of Intellectual
Cooperation.
Bergson’s philosophy is, after all, a conception of life that calls for an
internal reform. An entirely new method, that is what the demanding
philosophical intuition is. Bergson always said that philosophy is not
an ordering of concepts but an original intuition. What is at stake is the
function of the philosophical act. To the extent that it demands an inter-
nal renovation, Bergson’s philosophy is a kind of wisdom, a conception
of life. Intuition is not only a new mode of knowledge but a new mode
of being and of essential union with other beings. It gives answers to the
questions asked in life.
SOLEMN HOMAGE TO
HENRI BERGSON (1959)
I am par tic u lar moved to be speaking in the presence of Bergson’s dau gh-
ter. I accepted to play a role to night, despite my dislike of the spotlight,
out of veneration for the memory of your father— and also because of
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