Bergson’s Philosophy of Self-Overcoming (book review) Messay Kebede

Thinking without Negativity or Time as Striving

220225: i should not be surprised that reading this text is challenging, dense, difficult, as it is philosopher on philosopher and usually read as academic, study, work and not so much simple appreciation. this is more detailed than [book:Bergson: Thinking Beyond the Human Condition|35750377] but does not require as much previous reading as [book:Henri Bergson|23168534]. this examines the entire corpus of work but i found most engaging the passages on [book:Creative Evolution|379659]. it is possible i have just read so many on and about and by bergson by now, but i found this particularly insightful, though again must caution i am not studying nor teaching him, i feel i have learned or had confirmed a great deal on bergsonism...

so what did i learn? simply put, as mentioned here and in his previous work, bergson asserts: <I>time is real</I>...

what does this mean? it means that time is not <I>illusion</I> or <I>subjective</i> or the <I>unfolding of the already given</i>, but by its nature is <I>creative freedom</i> and cannot be modelled on spatial pattern. here i better understand bergson's arguments against <I>nothingness</i>, which is deployed as a 'lack' into which 'being' as time is filled. this is an entirely different image of time and being that requires the nothingness that is 'not', which is perhaps an incoherent thought, for how can 'nothing' 'be'? among his images of time, bergson has an elastic conception of time, of <I>thinking without negativity</i>, where time swells rather than replaces nothingness, swelling the enduring present, for another aspect of his concept of time is that it is not the fleeting 'futurepresentpast...' but that the present is <I>enduring</I>, as clearly the present is always 'present', the 'present' prolongs the past to the future, so we do not continually recreate the moment in nietzschean fashion...

as with nietzsche, bergson considers human being as <I>striving</I> but not in 'recovering' the past, in recurrent of 'nature' but in the <I>overcoming</I> of it, the freedom that is essential to humans, though he does not see this as 'progress' of <I>stages</i> but of <I>halts</i> which are again limitations...

<I>self-overcoming</i> is another term for <I>duration</I>, a key concept for bergson, and this enhances understanding his metaphysics of time, for where most other philosophers are beholden to a <I>chronological</I> view of time where time 'passes' in ephemeral evanescent moments, for bergson time is not single points but enduring moments... which he suggests is down to the difference between 'pure memory' and 'concrete memory', 'pure' puts us <I>at the heart of things</I>, by intuition, which insures we live not in disconnected moments but in unified time, the 'concrete' employing what we think of as living memory and 'pure' simply moment by moment...

both of which bergson examines in <I>limitations</I> as matter is the inverse of living, rather acts as both obstacle and encouragement, and here is where the <I>striving</I> is clearest, for bergson there is not, as in sartrean existentialism, absolute freedom, absolute self-determination, but more reasonably there is the <I>effort</I> of freedom, so it is something that must be strived-for... and perhaps denied or unobtained, so we have <I>enduring striving in lieu of the eternal</I>...

rather than the mechanism of memory, the question is the 'purpose' of forgetting: this seems to be to keep the immediate, the present, to the forefront of consciousness, bergson says we never truly forget, we just ignore temporarily that which does not matter, much as the mind is not storehouse of memories but <I>telegraphic exchange</i> that delays, that <I>selects</i> what is sensed and worked with...

next come the contradictions of <I>representational</I> models of perception, which are similar to errors in models of empiricism and rationalism, some on how psychic become philosophical, some on how bergson and husserl differ, how phenomenology and bergsonism differ, then memory and the being of the subject- which examines deleuze and bergson- last chapter is on [book:The Two Sources of Morality and Religion|379662], which was viewed at the time as 'not philosophy', as too much mysticism, irrationality etc, which apparently acts as sort of an 'application' of bergson's thought on 'closed' and 'open' religions and societies, which i am now encouraged to read... overall an excellent text on bergson... i have enjoyed this book greatly, i have read parts of the book twice, though i cannot say this has necessarily led to more complete understanding...


[book:Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness|907548]

[book:Matter and Memory|865540]

[book:Creative Evolution|379659]

[book:Henri Bergson: Key Writings|115736]

[book:Philosophy and the Adventure of the Virtual: Bergson and the Time of Life|115738]


[book:Bergson: Thinking Beyond the Human Condition|35750377]

[book:Deleuze, Bergson, Merleau-Ponty: The Logic and Pragmatics of Creation, Affective Life, and Perception|52669905]

[book:Henri Bergson|23168534]

[book:Thinking in Time: An Introduction to Henri Bergson|379665]

[book:The Bergsonian Philosophy of Intelligence|42439211]

[book:Bergson and the Stream of Consciousness Novel|3553423]

[book:Morality in Evolution: The Moral Philosophy of Henri Bergson|22137889]

[book:The Crisis in Modernism: Bergson and the Vitalist Controversy|8583342]

[book:The Philosophy of Science Fiction: Henri Bergson and the Fabulations of Philip K. Dick|25990962

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if you like this review, i now have website: 220611: this is probably the most academically accurate of the translations I have read of this book, but still prefer commentary o