Experience vs. Concept? The Role of Bergson in Twentieth-Century French Philosophy

The European Legacy 16 (7):855 - 872 (2011)
Abstract
In one of his last writings, Life: Experience and Science, Michel Foucault argued that twentieth-century French philosophy could be read as dividing itself into two divergent lines: on the one hand, we have a philosophical stream which takes individual experience as its point of departure, conceiving it as irreducible to science. On the other hand, we have an analysis of knowledge which takes into account the concrete productions of the mind, as are found in science and human practices. In order to account for this division, Foucault opposed epistemologists such as Cavaillès and Canguilhem to phenomenologists such as Merleau-Ponty and Sartre but, also, and more particularly, he opposed Poincaré to Bergson. The latter was presented by Foucault as being the key-figure of the ?philosophy of experience? at the beginning of the twentieth century. Fifteen years later, in his Deleuze and in the Logics of Worlds, Alain Badiou again uses this dual structure in his interpretation of the past hundred years of French thought. He employs a series of oppositional couples: himself and Deleuze, Lautmann and Sartre, and, finally, Brunschvicg and Bergson. On the one hand a ?mathematical Platonism? and on the other a ?philosophy of vital interiority.? This Manichean reading of philosophy, and the strategic use of the figure of Bergson has, itself, a long tradition. It was also proposed by Althusser who, following Bachelard, opposed his standpoint to any form of ?empiricism.? Althusser developed his thought from a tradition of Marxist thinkers and ideologists, which included Politzer's and Nizan's critique of bourgeois philosophy and, even before that, neo-Kantians such as the philosophers of the Revue de métaphysique et de morale. The aim of this essay is to deconstruct and to put into its precise context of production this series of genealogies which entails the mobilization of Bergsonism and of the name ?Bergson.? By doing so, I hope to weight the importance of Bergsonism in twentieth-century French philosophy, in both its ?positive? and its ?negative? aspect. The essay will proceed regressively, taking into account figures such as Althusser, Badiou, Deleuze, Foucault, Canguilhem, Cavaillès, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, but also Polizer, Brunschvicg and Alain. The conclusion of the essay is an attempt at reading the ?Bergson renaissance? in the light of new discoveries in genetics and the cognitive sciences and to tie it to the renewal of studies in the history of French philosophy
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 12,095
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Similar books and articles
Jean François Perraudin (2008). A Non-Bergsonian Bachelard. Continental Philosophy Review 41 (4):463-479.
Sarah Richmond (2007). Sartre and Bergson: A Disagreement About Nothingness. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 15 (1):77 – 95.
Leonard Lawlor (2003). The Ontology of Memory: Bergson's Reversal of Platonism. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 8 (1):69-102.
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2011-11-05

Total downloads

29 ( #64,402 of 1,102,037 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

3 ( #128,871 of 1,102,037 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.