Séminaire EMMA : Tim Gupwell "Bergson and Materiality"

Le Mardi, 23. février 2021 -
18:00 - 19:30
À distance

Séminaire EMMA du 23 février 2021 à 18h

La séance aura lieu en distanciel (voir paramètres de connexion ci-dessous)



Bergson’s popularity was such that, at the beginning of the 20th Century, his lectures were credited with causing the very first traffic jam in Broadway! Practically everyone had heard of him, and he had an important influence on a great number of writers and thinkers. Moreover, Bergson remains relevant today since he has undergone ‘a recent revitalization’, largely due to the work of Deleuze (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2020).  

In works such as Matter and Memory, The Creative Evolution, and Time and Free Will, Bergson examined the nature of materiality as well as the nature of our relationship to the external world. Bergson shows how our need, as practical, problem-solving organisms, to dominate nature, has engendered an artificial view of the material world, a view which over-emphasizes quantity, spatiality and discontinuity. We believe we perceive isolated objects, yet, in reality, ‘the materiality of a body does not end at the point where we touch it’.  Bergson approvingly cited Farraday’s theory that atoms are merely the central points in the lines of force which spread through space since, matter is always interrelated, always changing, becoming.

Bergson’s philosophy can also be seen as an attempt to counter the kind of deterministic vision of the material world that had been epitomized by Laplace (‘Laplace’s Demon’ was a thought experiment, which argued that a supreme intelligence with knowledge of all positions and all forces would be entirely able to predict the future just as accurately as the past). By contrast, Bergson’s aim was to re-introduce an element of freedom into this kind of overly physical conception of the world. For Bergson, the inorganic and the organic are both of essentially the same stuff; both are tendencies of life – but life is characterized by a greater intensity, introducing an element of indeterminism, of creativity, of emergence into what would otherwise be a world necessarily determined by mathematically calculable force and position.



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