Bergson's Theory of Free Will

Joel Dolbeault


Bergson argues that there is an incompatibility between free will and determinism: while free will has a dimension of creation, of invention, determinism corresponds to the idea that the future is fixed in advance by laws. In addition, he rejects determinism. According to him, the singularity of our deep-seated psychic states makes that their evolution cannot be governed by laws. However, Bergson does not defend classical indeterminism (of which contemporary indeterminism is only an extension) because it reduces free will to a choice between alternative possibilities, that is to say between pre-fixed futures. Such a conception does not take into account the creative dimension of free will. In fact, Bergson develops an original form of indeterminism based on a certain conception of causation. For determinism and classical indeterminism, causation is always the actualization of a pre-fixed virtual reality (single or multiple). For Bergson, causation can also be a creation, that is, the formation of something which is not pre-fixed.


Bergson; Free Will; Indeterminism

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