‘Remembering: Analytic and Bergsonian Perspectives (Franco-Japanese workshop)’ – 28th-29th October 2019, Centre for Philosophy of Memory (CPM), Grenoble – Report by Takuya Nagano

In line with recent attempts to establish a dialogue between Bersonian philosophy and analytic philosophy or phenomenology, a remarkable meeting took place on October 28 and 29, 2019 at the Université Grenoble-Alpes. This Franco-Japanese workshop on the theme of memory – Remembering: Analytic and Bergsonian Perspectives – was organized by the Centre for Philosophy of Memory (CPM) in Grenoble and the Project Bergson in Japan (PBJ), represented respectively by Kourken Michaelian and Yasushi Hirai.

Yasushi Hirai (left) and Kourken Michaelian (right)

This event can be seen as an extension of a series of symposia on Matter and Memory, also organized by PBJ in Japan between 2015 and 2017, in which the possibility of a dialogue between Bergsonian philosophy and analytic philosophy, phenomenology, neuroscience or robotics was examined. During these symposia, the theories Bergson developed in his second book appeared as the point upon which various presentations converged. In the most recent workshop in Grenoble, while the theme of memory was still the focal point, it was considered more generally, from the point of view of the specialty of each presenter. But, at the same time, the workshop fostered the possibility of dialogue between Bergson scholars and those whose research was based on analytic or phenomenological literature.

The presenters belonging to the first group emphasized the possibility of formalizing Bergson’s theory of memory. Yasushi Hirai (Fukuoka University) attempted to reveal a bi-dimensional scheme in which different types of memory and imagination can be located in a componential manner (“What is the theoretical role of “pure memory?””). Sébastien Miravète (Université Toulouse Jean-Jaurès) indicated through careful reading of Matter and Memory that Bergson had demonstrated the existence of a constant but dynamic temporal structure in memory (“A (post-)Bergsonian and (post-)structuralist philosophy of memory?”). Hisashi Fujita (Kyushu Sangyo University) focused on several aspects of the notion of “personality” in Bergsonian philosophy, indicating the possibility of re-examining them within an analytic framework (“The range of the voice: Appeal and personality in Bergson’s thought”). Takuya Nagano (National Institute of Technology, Kumamoto College) tried to capture the dynamic structure of memory by analyzing Matter and Memory with ontological concepts of the temporal part and whole (“Part-whole relation and Bergsonian “memory””). Barry Dainton (University of Liverpool) analyzed the form of the connection between the constituents of the flow in Bergsonian memory (“Keynote: Memory and the flow of experience”).

Christopher McCarroll

Among the presenters in the second group, some chose subjects relating to Bergson’s theory of memory, examining them from  phenomenological or analytical perspectives. André Sant’Anna (Université Grenoble Alpes) analyzed the relationships between memory and object and between perception and object (“Against the relational view of memory”). Denis Perrin (Université Grenoble Alpes) dealt with the phenomenon of déjà vu comparing Bergson’s explanation and phenomenological theories (“Bergson on déjà vu”). Christopher McCarroll (Université Grenoble Alpes) focused on emotion in memory and attempted to reveal its role in the construction of the temporal perspective, referring to phenomenological literature (“Navigating intertemporal choices: Emotion in memory and mental time travel”).

Others approached memory from a linguistic point of view, within the framework of analytic philosophy. Reza Mosmer (Institute for Cognitive Science Studies, Tehran) discussed the problem of private language, referring to Wittgenstein’s theory and examining its relation to memory (“Memory and private language”). Shin Sakuragi (Shibaura Institute of Technology) analyzed and compared several aspects of the English and Japanese words denoting the act of memory (“On philosophical analysis of “remembering”: From Japanese point of view”).

The participants

The diverstiy of approaches to the subject of memory, meant that the integration and conciliation of these approaches was often challenging. But these difficulties were a testament to the novelty of the event. The range of theoretical positions showcased in this workshop fostered lively discussions and allowed for the exchange of ideas and methods from sides of the philosophical spectrum which otherwise seldom meet and set a strong foundation for future discussions.


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