Mysticism, Logic and the Metaphysics of Time: Henri Bergson's Method and its Implications for Contemporary Philosophy

Dissertation, Loyola University of Chicago (1996)
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Abstract

Henri Bergson was the most celebrated philosopher at the beginning of the twentieth century. Today, however, both analytic philosophy and existentialist phenomenology judge his method to be inadequate and have almost completely forgotten him. Gilles Deleuze stands as a notable exception to this generalization, arguing that Bergson's method is founded on a philosophy of difference. Deleuze's reading, if correct, suggests that the French philosophers of difference may best be understood as continuing Bergson's project. ;This study attempts to follow Deleuze's interpretation through Bergson's texts. It examines Bergson's philosophy of spatial differences, temporal differences, differences of degree, differences of kind, logical differences, and his criticism that philosophers think time by means of space. In order to determine whether Bergson's method rests on these concepts of difference, I then probe Bergson's attempt to reconcile idealism and realism and his analysis of the idea of nothing. ;I conclude that Bergson's method does not rest on a philosophy of difference; the claim that it does suppresses some of Bergson's most important texts and remains open to fatal objections. Bergson's method actually rests on his philosophy of motion, interest, and attention. Bergson's philosophy methodically cultivates, enhances, and enriches the attention to experience. After criticizing Bergson's treatment of mysticism, I briefly indicate what direction this vision of philosophy would suggest for contemporary research

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