Is the Concept Élan Vital Central in Henri Bergson’s Evolutionary Theory? (Research Article)

: 40-45
Lviv National University of Veterinary Medicine and Biotechnologies named after Stepan Gzhytskyi

The evolutionary doctrine of Henri Bergson is largely associated with the notion of élan vital (vital impetus). However, according to Bergson, one of the main functions of philosophy must be  creating concepts. The world is extremely diverse, and if philosophy seeks to embrace this diversity, it must create a relevant network of concepts. In the evolutionary part of Bergson’s philosophy this point is implemented distinctly. Nonetheless, current historical and philosophical studies do not reproduce this scale.

The paper attempts to reproduce this scale by textual analyzing the concept system un élan in the context of Bergson’s evolutionary theory. Various concepts are investigated to ensure functioning of this system, for example, certain élan (certain impetus), élan commun (common impetus), élan originel (original impetus), élan initial de la vie (initial impetus of life). An attempt to conceptualize the words répliquer (replying), se lancer (sent through) and s’élancer (gush out) are made to reproduce the evolution of the concept system un élan. The connection between elements of this system and concepts that do not directly relate to the problem of life, such as material mass, replying, impulse, is closely linked. These arguments make it possible to conclude that the role of the concept élan vital in Bergson’s evolutionary doctrine is unreasonably exaggerated.

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