Bergson’s method of problematisation and the pursuit of metaphysical precision

Angelaki 23 (2):31-44 (2018)
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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to excavate and analyse Henri Bergson’s “problematic” thinking. This task will be prosecuted through a close reading of his two-part introduction to The Creative Mind – the text in which Bergson most concisely and conclusively articulates the “problematic” character of his work. As I will attempt to show in this paper, Bergson’s work is “problematic” in two respects, one to do with methodology and the other metaphysics. These two, furthermore, are intimately entwined: on the one hand, Bergson’s method of problematisation emerges from the findings of his metaphysical inquiries, while on the other, it is through the application of his problematising method that the findings of his metaphysical inquiries can be deemed as reliably accurate. In exploring this “problematic” intersection of Bergson’s methodology and metaphysics, I will first discuss what Bergson takes to be one of the biggest problems for philosophy: the lack of adequate “precision.” As we will see, many of the major themes and concepts of Bergson’s work, such as duration and intuition, both spring from and converge on his efforts to address this problem. The pursuit of precision also calls for a “problematic approach” that is appropriate for the metaphysical reality it seeks to handle – an approach I will outline in the second part of this paper. This will be followed by a discussion of how Bergson’s problematic method/metaphysics involves a critique of what he refers to as “fictitious,” “phantom” or “pseudo-problems.” This “negative” aspect of Bergsonian problematisation will then be reconsidered in the final part of the paper alongside its “positive” dimension – posing problems in terms of time.

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References found in this work

Tractatus logico-philosophicus.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1922 - Filosoficky Casopis 52:336-341.
Matter and Memory.Henri Bergson - 1894 - Mathesis Publications.
Creative Evolution.Henri Bergson & Arthur Mitchell - 1911 - International Journal of Ethics 22 (4):467-469.
The Problems of Philosophy.John Pickett Turner - 1912 - Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 10 (6):161-164.

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