Taking Time Seriously: The Bergsonism of Karin Costelloe-Stephen, Hilda Oakeley, and May Sinclair

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This paper explores the influence of Henri Bergson’s (1859-1941) philosophy of time on three early twentieth-century British philosophers: Karin Costelloe-Stephen (1889-1953), Hilda Oakeley (1867-1950), and May Sinclair (1863-1946). I demonstrate that three central claims of Bergson’s account of temporal experience (novelty, memory, and indivisibility) were creatively incorporated into their accounts of time. All these philosophers place time at the centre of their philosophical systems, so this study of their views on time and temporality can deepen our understanding of their systems more broadly. Further, this study helps us appreciate the reception of Bergson’s thought in British philosophy after it came under ferocious attack at the hands of Bertrand Russell in 1912, and can provide more detailed contours on the joint fortunes of temporal experience and Bergson's thought in the history of twentieth-century philosophy. I conclude by emphasising reasons why contemporary philosophers should pay particular attention to the three figures' treatment of Bergson.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal for the History of Philosophy
Early online date15 Feb 2022
Publication statusEarly online date - 15 Feb 2022


  • time
  • Henri Bergson
  • Karin Costelloe-Stephen
  • May Sinclair
  • Hilda Oakeley

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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