Henri Bergson, Julian Huxley’s Seed Crystal?

Bergson scholar Emily Herring 2017 piece in the Annals of Science is worth a read for the Bergsonian influence on the modern evolutionary synthesis.

I was struck early on by the sentence quoted below, a recurring theme for me of the idea that one’s own supersaturated (dense and incoherent) thoughts often crystalize (cohere) around a recognisable seed crystal event involving one individual. For Robert Pirsig it was Sarah Vinke’s “quality” question. For me it was retrospectively recognising Pirsig’s coming together of Zen and Engineering when Nobel physicist Brian Josephson mentioned (with Henry Stapp) the weird parallel’s between fundamental physics and Eastern philosophies.

For Huxley, encountering Henri Bergson shortly after the 1909 Darwin 50th event in Oxford was:

… not so much a turning point in my career
as a crystallization of my ideas.

Whatever the precise sequence of events, the remembered event pinpoints a significant step in the development of thought.

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