Thinking in Time (book review) Suzanne Guerlac

An Introduction to Henri Bergson


020711: this is a later later later later addition: by now it should be apparent that bergson is one of my favorite philosophers. best on bergson i have read, given five, though i do not imagine full comprehension are: [book:Bergson: Thinking Beyond the Human Condition|35750377] and [book:Philosophy and the Adventure of the Virtual: Bergson and the Time of Life|115738]

best total selection of bergson's work is: [book:Henri Bergson: Key Writings|115736]


this is a later later later addition: why am I revisiting this review? well now I have read many more works, even some introductory analytic philosophy, tried deleuze and guattari, find them often opaque, often fascinating, and have read critical examination of Bergson's , not enough to fully critique yet but does deeply interrogate his entire metaphysics, enjoying that one such I bought it and will reread it...


this is a later later addition: so, reading him again, 3rd time, inspired by lawlor's [book:The Challenge of Bergsonism|1196665]. [book:Early Twentieth-Century Continental Philosophy|12973401] easy reading, maybe because some ideas are so familiar. could read him over and over. this after lawlor is interesting because in trying to see his pure perception, his memory and matter substrate, in how our experienced world is not resolved in timeless, undirected, abstract mathematical formulae. easier to read of him, like attending lectures, than read him without guidance. there is this wonderful idea we should see the world as essentially suffused in time, this time as duration, as how the future is freedom. have in some ways perhaps thought too much of new and not enough of persisting past. see lawlor.


this is a later addition: i have other texts by bergson- laughter, [book:Laughter|7824219]. [book:The Creative Mind|208057], [book:Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness|907548], [book:Matter and Memory|865540] already read- others that i will read next, but then i suppose there might be deleuze, other more recent or contemporary continental thinkers. .now read [book:Creative Evolution|379659]


first review: i knew of bergson only as someone sartre and proust and merleau-ponty refer to. i am not studying him. i am not professionally astute enough to pass judgment on how accurate and helpful guerlac is here. i can only say that this is one of the few works of philosophy i am re-reading.


i am interested in continental thought, the sort Bergson works through, which deals with the world given as immediate data of consciousness, nothing more or less. i love the idea we have misunderstood time on a spatial thought-model: thinking in terms of a line or a circle. i am moved by his exploration of novelty. i try to connect this with buddhist concepts of time, with process, with change. this is one of those books that clarify how much more interested i am in continental rather than analytic philosophical work. i read it again, i read it anew, as one of the signal insights of bergson is every time is a new moment even if you have been there before- this is simply new with the memory of the old, so it is new.


think the difference between quality- that is, consciousness- and quantity- that is, the world- think of pure perception, of memory filling in the gaps of senses, of matter and memory. think difference between level of illumination versus brightness. think in time: difficult but rewarding, this is the theme of his metaphysics, to think of how indivisible is real duration, real time, rather than points on a line which plots history not act. in western philosophy we talk ourselves into dead end paradox by ignoring time. there are so many things to think of in here. time is real. time is heterogeneous, new every moment as quality, not homogeneous as matter and thus divisible...


intensity, multiplicity, duration- these are keys in Bergson, in recognition of freedom expressed not beyond categories of experience but in immediacy of time. which in error we conceptualize similar to space, a tendency embedded in our human project of living, a prejudice we must overcome. for there is the entire inner consciousness which does not exist as space but as time. which is not repeatable, never identical, not subject to conservation of energy but accumulates... how music or melody of song is an apt model for our experience of living time, of real duration, of past flowing into future...or something like that.


think in time. questions of subject and object should be understood not as space, as thing beyond perception, but as time. postructuralism heeds bergson's defining difference from the inanimate to living, much as thought must be seen not computational but active, not contemplative, not judgment.


think in time and there is a whole new way of seeing worlds physical and metaphysical: great intro.

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