Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 79 (1):3-30 (2017)

Tom Allen
University of Leeds
In Time and Free Will, Bergson understands sensation to be the frontline of an encroachment of the forms of the external world upon duration. With his method of intuition, he seeks to liberate the dynamic powers of consciousness from this incursion. The driving question of this article is the following: In his attempt to reclaim sensation for duration by driving extensity from it, has he not gone too far, effectively alienating man from his own suffering body? In the maturation of his thought Bergson realized just this. In Matter and Memory he concedes that sensation is ”vaguely’ extended. His task shifts from purifying sensation of the intrusion of extensity, to showing that, like concrete perception, sensation is an alloy of both matter and duration. The broad goal of this article is to trace the development of Bergson’s concept of sensation between these two books, paying especially close attention to the specific sensation of pain. We will discover that this concept is improved from the early work of Time and Free Will to the later work Matter and Memory, if only because he concedes that sensation is genuinely alloyed with something that is not immediately subject to a synthesis of durational consciousness. He thus restores a certain externality to sensation, which is necessary to account for excruciating pain.
Keywords Henri Bergson   duration   extendedness   sensation   intuition   consciousness   affect
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DOI 10.2143/TVF.79.1.3217823
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