chapter  One
28 Pages

Intellectual biography

WithMark Sinclair

In 1867, on the occasion of the Exposition Universelle in Paris, Ravaisson had published an official report on the progress of nineteenth-century French philosophy, the final section of which, as Henri Bergson writes, “twenty generations of students learnt by heart” in order to pass the agregation in the following years. The physical conflict had already begun, but with Bergson address, Bergson fires the first salvo in the intellectual hostilities. When Bergson was preparing his agregation lecture in the Sorbonne library before delivering it in the amphitheatre in front of Ravaisson, these prophetic words would have been present to his mind. Bergson was gaining a reputation in Paris as a brilliant teacher. In 1897, Bergson was named as a temporary replacement for Charles Leveque in the Chair of Ancient Philosophy at the College de France, but in 1898 he was rejected a second time for a position at the Sorbonne.