Bergson and the Calculus of Intuition: Special Focus Introduction

by Randall E. Auxier

Randall E. Auxier is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Institute of Liberal Arts at Oklahoma City University in Oklahoma City, OK 73106 He is also Editor of the journal, The Personalist Forum. Email:

The following article appeared in Process Studies, p. 267, Vol. 28, Number 3-4, Fall-Winter, 1999. Process Studies is published quarterly by the Center for Process Studies, 1325 N. College Ave., Claremont, CA 91711. Used by permission. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.


.The author introduces three papers concerning Henri Bergson the Calculus of Intuition. The three: 1. Pete A. Y. Gunter, Bergson, Mathematics, and Creativity; 2. Carl R. Hausman, Bergson, Peirce, and Reflective Intuition; and 3. Randall E. Auxier, Influence as Confluence: Bergson and Whitehead. These articles can be found at the web-site

The three papers and the dialogue contained in this focus section have been emerging for a number of years, since the three contributors began preparing their contributions for a gathering that took place on April 22,1993, a meeting of The Society for the Philosophy of Creativity (SPC) at the Central Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association, Palmer House, Chicago. The papers have been greatly expanded and refined in the interim.

I will be so bold as to state at the outset that if these papers are given the attention I think they warrant, then the way Bergson is presently understood in the community of process thought will be permanently altered, and process philosophy will be better off for having done so. Gunter’s essay once and for all sets to rest the most popular criticism of Bergson that is made by process philosophers and repeated in textbooks and popular media by writers who do not bother to read Bergson for themselves. Even if these latter did apply themselves to the task, chances are they would fall victim to the same misunderstanding so widely held by process thinkers. Bergson is in part responsible himself for being misunderstood, for his language is in places loose, in places exaggerated, and in places vague. But Gunter has cut the Gordian knot, and the process community would do well to listen. Carl Hausman’s paper, and mine, amplify and give specific attention to aspects of Gunter’s thesis, and hopefully they may answer some of the questions readers of this journal will have. Hausman relates Gunter’s thesis to the Peircean framework, and I relate it to the Whiteheadian. More remains to be done in rectifying misconceptions about Bergson and putting his genuine ideas to work in the present, but hopefully the process will start and find considerable impetus here.