Henri Bergson ( – ) introduced new life to French philosophy, examining the non-mathematical sciences from a philosophical stance. He introduced. Henri Bergson, Duration and Simultaneity: Bergson and the Einsteinian Universe Time, Duration and Freedom – Bergson’s Critical Move Against Kant. Duration and Simultaneity. Henri Bergson Henri Bergson in 20th Century Philosophy Concepts of Simultaneity: From Antiquity to Einstein and Beyond.

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Henri Bergson — was one of the most famous and influential Simultaneeity philosophers of the late 19th century-early 20th century. Although his international fame reached cult-like heights during his lifetime, his influence decreased notably after the second World War.

Deleuze realized that Bergson’s most enduring contribution to philosophical thinking is his concept of multiplicity.

Bergson’s concept of multiplicity attempts to unify in a consistent way two contradictory features: Many philosophers today think that this concept of multiplicity, despite its difficulty, is revolutionary.

It is revolutionary duratiln it opens the way to a reconception of community.

Bergson was born in Paris on October 18, ; he was the second of seven children simu,taneity a Polish Father and English mother; both of his parents were Jewish.

Bergson was a notably exceptional pupil throughout his childhood. Like his German contemporary, Edmund Husserl, Bergson’s original training was in mathematics. InBergson became a French citizen, although he could have chosen English citizenship.

Notice that Freud and Breuer’s Studies on Hysteria did not appear until This foreshadowed Bergson’s growing interest in the role of unconscious memories within recognition—an interest that culminates in his being elected president of the London based Society for Psychical Research in InBergson simultanelty two doctoral theses in Paris: Inin a footnote to Being and TimeHeidegger cited this second thesis, claiming that Simultnaeity view of time remains within the horizon of Greek metaphysics.

Duration (philosophy) – Wikipedia

Bergson’s second book, Matter and Memoryappeared in The Dreyfus Affair was raging, but Bergson a Jew by birth refused to take part in the public debate. This marked the beginning of his growing fame.

Through Williams James’s enthusiastic reading of this essay, Bergsonism acquired a far-reaching influence on American Pragmatism. Creative Evolution was translated into English. Russell also noted that any attempt at classifying Bergson would fail, as his philosophy cuts across all divisions, whether empiricist, realist or idealist Soulez et Wormsp. The enthusiasm this article generated may explain the traffic jam that occurred before Bergson’s lecture, duartion first traffic jam in the history of Broadway.

Of course, in the middle of this decade, war broke out, and Bergson entered his political career, which took him first to Spain in Soulez et Wormsbdrgson. But more importantly, the French government sent him to dutation United-States as a diplomatic emissary to meet President Wilson Soulez et Wormsp. After his first visit to the United States inhe had thought that peace would come only from Washington, D. Soulez et Wormsp. Humanity appeared to me transfigured.

It was the greatest joy of my life. The League of Nations remained in existence untilwhen it was replaced by the United Nations. Increasingly Bergson became more famous for his political actions than for his philosophy. During the same year he retired from his teaching duties.

There is some controversy surrounding this book. Bergson allowed the book to be reprinted up to the sixth edition in Consequently [Bergson] thought it wiser to let the question drop.

However, in Bergson’s will, he duratoon not mention Durayion and Simultaneity as a text not to be republished. If Deleuze’s interpretation is correct, the confrontation simulganeity Duration and Simultaneity develops is not one between Bergson and Einstein but a confrontation between Bergson’s interpretation of multiplicities and Riemann’s interpretation of multiplicity, Riemann’s interpretation being, according to Deleuze, the durration of Einstein’s theory Deleuze,pp.


During the second half of the Twenties, Bergson suffered from severe arthritis, which eventually forced him to retire from public life. Inhe was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Finally, inhe surprised everyone with the publication of his last major book, The Two Sources of Morality and Religionwhich gave rise to renewed debates and misunderstandings about his philosophy and his religious orientation.

The final collection of his essays, The Duratuon Mindappeared in Bergson died on January 3, at the age of There is a rumor that he had converted to Catholicism near the end wimultaneity his life, but there is no document to support this rumor. Because of his fame, simulganeity Vichy Government offered Bergson exemptions from anti-Semitic regulations, but he refused.

It is also rumored that he contracted the cold that killed him while bergaon in line to register as a Jew. The story goes that his wife obeyed this order, throwing all of her husband’s papers into the fireplace. There is a rumor that she destroyed a half-written manuscript. So, the situation is very different for Bergson than for many other important French and German philosophers of the 20th Century who have massive archives Husserl, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty.

The lack of archival material is one reason why Bergson went out of favor wnd the second half of the Twentieth Century. We shall return to this problem of Bergson’s temporary disappearance from the philosophical scene. The concept of multiplicity has two fates in the Twentieth Century: Bergsonism and phenomenology Deleuze,pp.

In phenomenology, the multiplicity of phenomena is always related to a unified consciousness. The standard English title of this work is Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness. It is the text that Sartre claimed attracted him to philosophy.

Henri Bergson

Time and Free Will has to be seen as an attack on Kant, for whom freedom belongs to a realm outside of space and time. Bergson thinks that Kant has confused space and time in a mixture, with the result that we must conceive human action as determined by natural causality. Bergson offers a twofold response. In the duration, there is no juxtaposition of events; therefore there is no mechanistic causality.

It is in the duration that we can speak of the experience of freedom. For Bergson, we must understand the duration as a qualitative multiplicity — as opposed to a quantitative multiplicity. As the name suggests, a quantitative multiplicity enumerates things or states of consciousness by means of externalizing one from another in a homogeneous space.

In Time and Free WillBergson provides examples of a quantitative multiplicity; the example of a flock of sheep is perhaps the easiest to grasp Time and Free Willpp.

When we look at a flock of sheep, what we notice is that they all look alike. We sense no qualitative change as we move from one to another. We also notice that we can enumerate the sheep. We are able to enumerate them because each sheep is spatially separated from or juxtaposed to the others; in other words, each occupies a discernable spatial location. Therefore, quantitative multiplicities, as Bergson says, are homogeneous and spatial.

Moreover, because a quantitative multiplicity is homogeneous, we can represent it with a symbol, for instance, a sum: The idea of qualitative multiplicities is difficult to understand, although it is the heart of Bergson’s thinking. Normally, we would think that if there is heterogeneity, there has to be juxtaposition. But, in qualitative multiplicities, there is heterogeneity and no juxtaposition. Qualitative multiplicities are temporal; qualitative multiplicity defines the duration.


As with quantitative multiplicities, Bergson gives us many examples; but perhaps the easiest example to grasp is the feeling of sympathy, a moral feeling Time and Free Willpp. Sympathy is not only the easiest to grasp, it is also significant, as we shall see. Our experience of sympathy begins, according to Bergson, with our putting ourselves in the place of others, feeling their pain. But, if this were all, the feeling would inspire in us abhorrence of others, and we would want to avoid them, not help them.

Bergson concedes that the feeling of horror may be at the root of sympathy. But then, we realize that if we do not help this poor wretch, it is going to turn out that, when we need help, no one will come to our aide.

True pity, therefore, involves not so much fearing pain as desiring it. But, this painful aspiration develops into a sense of being superior.

Duration and Simultaneity

We realize that we can do without certain sensuous goods; we are superior to them since we have managed to dissociate ourselves from them. In the end, one feels humility, berson since we are now stripped of these sensuous goods. There is no negation in the duration.

A qualitative multiplicity is therefore heterogeneous or singularizedcontinuous or interpenetratingoppositional or dualistic at the extremes, and progressive or temporal, an irreversible flow, which is not given all at once. Because a qualitative multiplicity is heterogeneous and yet interpenetrating, it cannot be adequately represented by a symbol; indeed, for Bergson, a qualitative multiplicity is inexpressible.

Bergson also calls the last characteristic of temporal progress mobility. For Bergson — and perhaps this is his greatest insight — freedom is mobility.

Because Bergson connects duration with mobility, in the second half of the Twentieth Century in Deleuze and Foucault, in particularthe Bergsonian concept of qualitative multiplicity will be dissociated from time and associated with space Deleuze The first is that of two spools, with a tape running between them, one spool unwinding the tape, the other winding it up.

Duration resembles this image, according to Bergson, because, as we grow older, our future grows smaller and our past larger. The benefit of this image is that it presents a continuity of experiences without juxtaposition.

Yet, there is a drawback: Duration, for Bergson, is continuity of progress and heterogeneity; moreover, thanks to this image, we can also see that duration implies a conservation of the past. Indeed, for Bergson and this is the center of his truly novel idea of memory, memory conserves the past and this conservation does not imply that one experiences the same re-cognitionbut difference.

One moment is added onto the old ones, and thus, when the next moment occurs, it is added onto all the other old ones plus the one that came immediately before.

Although Bergson does not say this, one might say that Tuesday is different from Monday because Monday only includes itself and Sunday, while Tuesday includes itself, Monday, and Sunday. This first image, therefore, implies that duration is memory: We shall return to the question of memory below. The second image simultaaneity qualitative multiplicity is the color spectrum.