The “history” of biodiversity. A Bergsonian look at the theory of evolution


  • Mathilde Tahar


Henri Bergson, Charles Darwin, Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Dawkins, Evolution, Adaptation, Natural Selection, Genetics


Neo-Darwinism, through the combination of natural selection and genetics, has made possible an explanation of adaptive phenomena that claims to be devoid of metaphysical presuppositions. What Bergson already deplored and what we explore in this paper is the implicit finalism of such evolutionary explanations, which turn living beings into closed and static systems rather than understanding biological evolution as a process characterized by its interactions and temporal openness. Without denying the heuristic efficiency of the explanation resting upon natural selection, we analyze what it leaves out and what remains to be explored: the unpredictability of the evolutionary process. We will therefore study the role of contingency in evolution, as Stephen J. Gould proposed, but we will also consider the causality specific to the living world that makes it impossible to reduce it to a simple algorithm, as proposed by Daniel Dennett among others, but that it is really a creative causation, or dialectical spiral.