Bergson’s influence on Prigogine

“Since my adolescence, I have read many philosophical texts, and I still remember the spell “L’évolution créatrice” cast on me. More specifically, I felt that some essential message was embedded, still to be made explicit, in Bergson’s remark:

“The more deeply we study the nature of time, the better we understand that duration means invention, creation of forms, continuous elaboration of the absolutely new.”

(…) Finally, among all those perspectives opened by thermodynamcis, the one which was to keep my interest was the study of irreversible phenomena, which made so manifest the “arrow of time”. From the very start, I always attributed to these processes a constructive role, in opposition to the standard approach, which only saw in these phenomena degradation and loss of useful work. Was it the influence of Bergson’s “L’évolution créatrice” or the presence in Brussels of a performing school of theoretical biology?9 The fact is that it appeared to me that living things provided us with striking examples of systems which were highly organized and where irreversible phenomena played an essential role.”

Ilya Prigogine

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1977