Book Review On Bergsonism Philosophy Essay

Book Review on Bergsonism by Gilles Deleuze

The book was in 1966 as part of a series of short studies known as "Initiation Philosophique". Bergsonism is reduced to the status of a footnote in histories of philosophy, making brief appearance in studies of "vitalism" or "irrationalism". For Deleuze, Bergson forms part of a "counter history" of Philosophy. He was a writer like Lucretius, Spinoza, Hume or Nietzche, who seemed to be part of the history of philosophy, but who escaped from it in one respect. Bergson was also caught up in French revolution – style history of philosophy but in him there is something which cannot be assimilated which provide a shock, to be a rallying point for all the opposition, the object of hatreds because of the theme of duration, as of the theory and practice of becoming of all kinds of coexistent multiplicities. Deleuze transformed these Bergsonism notions in his own for constructive pluralism. It is characterized not by a fidelity to any master, but by a series of transformations of concepts. Isolation of the cinematographic concept of the "movement – image" and the "time – image" grows out of four "commentaries" on Bergson notions of movement, image, recognition and time. The translation of the Bergsonian terms in the book presents a special difficulty. His mother who was from the north of England translated during his lifetime and revised by him. The authorized translations have used an English neologism "detension," "relaxation" or "expansion" depending on the context; with the original in the parentheses. We have followed the authorized translation and adopting French word in parentheses

This book sets out to determine, first, the relationship between these three notions (movement, image, and recognition) and second, the progress they involve.

Bergson saw "intuition" not as an appeal to the ineffable, a participation in a feeling or a lived identification, but as a true method. This method sets out, firstly, to determine the conditions of problems, that is to say, to expose false problems or wrongly posed questions, and to discover the variables under which a given problem must be stated as such. The means used by intuition are, on the one hand, a cutting up or division of reality in a given domain, according to lines of different natures and, on the other hand, an intersection of lines which are taken from various domains and which converge. It is this complex linear operation, consisting in a cutting up according to articulations and an intersecting according to convergences, which leads to the proper posing of a problem, in such a way that the solution itself depends on it.

Bergson did not merely criticized science as if it went no further than space, the solid, and the immobile. Rather, he thought that the Absolute has two "halves," to which science and metaphysics correspond. Thought divides into two paths in a single impetus, one toward matter, its bodies and movements, and the other toward spirit, its qualities and changes. Thus, from antiquity, just as physics related movement to privileged positions and moments, metaphysics constituted transcendent eternal forms from which these positions derive. But "modern" science begins, on the contrary, when movement is related to "any instant whatever": it demands a new metaphysics which now only takes into account immanent and constantly varying durations. For Bergson, duration becomes the metaphysical correlate of modern science. He, of course, wrote a book, Duration and Simultaneity, in which he considered Einstein’s relativity. This book led to so much misunderstanding because it was thought that, Bergson was seeking to refute or correct Einstein, while in fact he wanted, by means of the new feature of duration, to give the theory of Relativity the metaphysics was lacking. And in this masterpiece, Matter and Memory, Bergson draws, from a scientific conception of the brain to which he himself made important contributions, the requirements of a new metaphysic of memory. For, Bergson, science is never "reductionist" but, on the contrary, demands a metaphysics – without which it would remain abstract, deprived of meaning or intuition. To continue Bergson’s project today, means for example to constitute a metaphysical image of thought corresponding to the new lines, openings, traces, leaps, dynamisms, discovered by a molecular biology of the brain: new linkings and re-linkings in thought.

Bergson defines duration as a multiplicity, a type of multiplicity. This is a strange word, since it makes the multiple no longer an adjective but a genuine noun. Thus, he exposes the traditional theme of the one and the multiple as a false problem. The origin of the word, Multiplicity or Variety, is physico-mathematical (deriving from Riemann). It is difficult to believe that Bergson was not aware of the scientific origin of the term and the novelty of its metaphysical use. Bergson moves toward a distinction between two major types of multiplicities, the one discrete or discontinuous, the other continuous, the one spatial and the other temporal, the one actual, the other virtual. This is a fundamental theme of the encounter with Einstein. Once again, Bergson intends to give multiplicities the metaphysics which their scientific treatment demands. This is perhaps one of the least appreciated aspects of his thought – the constitution of a logic of multiplicities.

After, a thorough analysis of the book, its purpose was achieved efficiently and effectively. Important topics such as Intuition, Science and Metaphysics, and Multiplicities are relevant. These three (3) themes are to be found in phenomenology. It is true that these notions are understood very differently in the two cases. There is nevertheless a possible convergence as can be seen in psychiatry where Bergsonism inspired the works of Minkowski (Le temps vecu) and those of Binswanger (Le cas Susan Urban), in his explorations of space-times in psychoses. Bergsonism makes possible a whole pathology of duration. In an outstanding article on "paramnesia" (false recognition), Bergson invokes metaphysics to show how a memory is not constituted after present perception, but is strictly contemporaneous with it, since at each instant duration divides into two simultaneous tendencies, one of which goes toward the future and the other falls back into the past. He also invokes psychology, in order to show how a failure of adaptation can make memory invest the present as such. Scientific hypothesis and metaphysical thesis are constantly combined in Bergson in the reconstitution of complete experience.