Bergson, Henri

Bergson, Henri
  ---- by Felicity J. Colman
  Deleuze has been credited with restoring French philosopher Henri Bergson to the canon of key thinkers of his generation, and Bergson's work continues to impact disciplines concerned with time, movement, memory and perception. Along with the thoughts of Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, Baruch Spinoza, Friedrich Nietzsche, David Hume, Antonin Artaud, Guattari and Lucretius, Deleuze engages Bergson's empiricism as a challenge to the rigidity of philosophy, especially in its use of transcendental elements, phenomenological assumptions, and the quest for 'knowledge' and 'truth'. Deleuze's philosophical interest in Bergson is manifold and central to his entire oeuvre. Although neglected in philosophical canons of the second half of the twentieth century, in the early decades of that century, Bergson's work was well known and widely discussed in many artistic and literary arenas, from the French Cubists to the English writer T. E. Hulme.
  In Bergson Deleuze finds an intellectual partner for some of his core philosophical pursuits: concepts and ideas of temporality, the affective nature of movement and duration, the political implications of multiplicity and difference, the morphological movement of genetics, and the temporal causality of events as habitual and associated series. Deleuze signals his interest in Bergson in his essay on Hume, Empiricism and Subjectivity. Then, in 1966, Deleuze published his book Bergsonism, in which he called for 'a return to Bergson', through an extended consideration of what he saw as Bergson's three key concepts: intuition as method, the demand for an invention and utilisation of a metaphysical orientation of science, and a logical method and theory of multiplicities. Bergson not only questions the logistics of existence in terms of movement, but his writing indicates his genuine fascination with the subjects and objects of life - appealing to Deleuze's own propositions concerning vitalism.
  Bergson's concepts are influential for Deleuze's work in Difference and Repetition, where Deleuze develops ideas of difference and repetition, memory and repetition, the intensive and extensive forms of time, and the physical movements of time; all of which are indebted to Bergson's discussion of the paradoxical modalities of time in his book, Matter and Memory [Matière et Mémoire] (1896). Bergson proposes a moving model of duration - a concept of duration that is not spatially predetermined but continually alters its past through cognitive movement. Then, later in Creative Evolution Bergson incorporates the cinematic model into his philosophical expression, noting the cinematographical character of ancient philosophy in its apprehension of the thought of ordinary knowledge (B 1911: 331-33). From this model (and the Kantian notion of time, and Hegelian conception of thought and movement) Deleuze develops his explication of how the perceptual recognition of moving images of the cinematic screen operates not through the apprehension of that movement, but through specific moments of sound and optical registration. This Deleuze discusses at length in his two books on the cinema, Cinema 1: The movement-image and Cinema 2: The Time-Image.
  Bergson conceives memory as a temporal blending of perceptual imagery, and this idea becomes central to Deleuze's hypothesis in his discussion of the philosophical importance of cinema. In his second book on cinema, The Time-Image, Deleuze draws from Bergson's interest in the different types of possible memory states - dreams, amnesia, déjÀ-vu, and death. To these Deleuze adds a breadth of memory functions: fantasy, hallucinations, Nietzsche's concept of 'promise-behaviour' where we make a memory of the present for the future use of the present (now as past), theatre, Alain Robbe-Grillet's concept of the 'recognition' process where the portrayal of memory is through invention and elimination, and numerous others.
  Following Bergson, Deleuze describes how the perceptual and cognitive abilities of the dream or wakeful receptor of memory events or imagery are dependent upon a complex network of factors. As Bergson discusses in Matter and Memory, systems of perceptual attention are contingent upon the 'automatic' or 'habitual' recognition of things. These different modes of remembering are further tempered through the degree of attention given in the perception of things, affecting not only the description of the object, but the features of the object itself. From Bergson, Deleuze's mature conception of duration and the movements and multiplicities of time are developed.
   § cinema
   § difference
   § duration
   § Hume, David
   § memory
   § multiplicity

The Deleuze dictionary. . 2010.

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  • Bergson, Henri (-Louis) — born Oct. 15, 1859, Paris, France died Jan. 4, 1941, Paris French philosopher. In Creative Evolution (1907), he argued that evolution, which he accepted as scientific fact, is not mechanistic but driven by an élan vital ( vital impulse ). He was… …   Universalium

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