Quora answer: What were some of Henri Bergson’s main contributions to philosophy?

Feb 18 2014



Bergson is important for his exploration of time. He also seemed believe that that here was an elan vital that made life different from inorganic matter. He was thought to be a vitalist. And he was one of the outsider philosophers from which Deleuze took inspiration. The Deleuze move of sparing with and transforming outsider philosophers was like Foucault’s move of using secondary texts to record the stable points in the development of the Western episteme. Bergson’s philosophy was found interesting by Wm. James.

Reviewing these sources and trying to remember what I read of Bergson long ago made me realize that I had forgotten much, and that he was the source of the idea of the multiple, and the importance of heterogeneity was a surprise to me. I think I need to study him again and probably the new post-Deleuzian commentaries. It appears that his idea of “duree” the duration of the present where times qualitatively heterogeneity is intuited is probably a good source for my own ideas of the heterochronic, i.e. four dimensional time. It also seems to be related to Peirce’s idea of precission, which is a way of looking at the parts in relation to the whole rather than analysis.

So this question prompted me to put Bergson back on my reading list. Basically Bergson is attempting comprehend how to bring Kantianism back into time and to reconcile it with evolution. Made me wonder how much G.H. Mead who talks about emergence might have been affected by Bergson beyond the effects of Wm. James and Peirce. It seems that what Bergson is talking about is very similar to what Mead explores in The Philosophy of the Present where shows the importance of emergence as the way that creativeness appears objectively in society.

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