The natural cyborg: The stakes of Bergson's philosophy of evolution

Southern Journal of Philosophy 48 (s1):3-17 (2010)
Abstract
Bergson's engagement with evolutionary theory was remarkably up to date with the science of his time. One century later, the scientific and social landscape is undoubtedly quite different, but some of his insights remain of critical importance for the present. This paper aims at discussing three related aspects of Bergson's philosophy of evolution and their relevance for contemporary debates: first, the stark distinction between the affirmation of the reality of change and becoming, on the one hand, and any notion of progress on the other; second, the insistence on the intimate interplay between forms of knowledge and forms of life; third, his idea that machines and organisms, technology and biology, are not separate domains but, rather, stem from and answer to the same problems and needs that living beings express. Such a Bergsonian framework may prove very helpful in reassessing the implicit assumptions of several contemporary debates on the ethical and political stakes of evolution, biosciences, and technologies, as well as the increasingly problematic boundary between “biology” and “culture.”
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