On the 29th and 30th of July, PBJ(Project Bergson in Japan) and Barry Dainton hosted an online workshop ‘Time, Freedom, and Creativity: Bergsonian Perspectives’.
Barry Dainton is a leading analytical philosopher in the field of temporal experience and has been playing a central role in PBJ events since 2015. In his presentation “Unity and Irreducibility” Dainton undertook a sharp conceptual investigation into the connection between the holistic, inter-mirroring character of the Bergsonian multiplicity and the ‘co-consciousness’ approach to synchronic and diachronic phenomenal unity.
Yasushi Hirai connected Bergson’s understanding of causality with the modern ‘manipulationist’ view (von Wright and others), pointing out the former’s emphasis on the ‘lived and felt’ aspect of the sense of agency as an essential difference from the latter. Referring to Godfrey-Smith’s action-shaping view, he proposed a micro-macro level distinction in Bergson’s account of the emergence of phenomenal consciousness.
In her presentation “Bergson on Sympathy”, Kaoru Kamiyama analysed Bergson’s discussion of sympathy in TFW; she carefully examined the physical and mental elements of sympathy and showed how these elements were developed in Bergson’s philosophy by tracing his discussions of the phenomenon of ‘suggestion’ from TFW to Two Sources.
Anne Sophie Meincke’s presentation had a very stimulating title: “With Bergson Towards a New Bio-Processual Metaphysics of Free Will – or: Why Contemporary Philosophers of Free Will Ought to Read Bergson”. Criticizing the orthodox analytic ontologies of substance and process for providing inadequate accounts of movement and change she acknowledged the importance and continuing relevance of the Bergsonian perspective in characterising a ‘bio-agency’ that is not reducible to the mechanistic.
Yaron Wolf’s talk, “Coinciding with Time’s Flow: from Perception to the Manifest Image”, shed new light on the question of whether Bergsonian durée is retentionalist or extensionalist, by connecting this issue to Bergson’s conception of intuition as coincidence.
In his presentation “On Personality: Analytical and Bergsonian Approaches”, Hisashi Fujita investigated the possibility of bridging the gap between the narrative self (Dennett) and the phenomenal self (Dainton) by elaborating the concept of an “expressive self” , an idea Fujita draws from Bergson’s theory of the profound self in TFW.
Finally, in his talk “Bergson on the Indefinability of Freedom”, Tatsuya Murayama subjected Bergson’s argument for the indefinability of freedom to a close analysis. This impressively meticulous reconstruction highlighted the distinctiveness of Bergson’s theory of freedom, and allowed the latter to be compared and contrasted with other discussions of indefinability in the history of philosophy.
These presentations drew profound and varied questions from many participants from around the world and a lively discussion ensued. PBJ has been actively connected with analytic philosophy since 2015, and we believe that it will be beneficial for the next generation of Bergsonian studies if we can continue to clearly demonstrate just how fecund the conceptual potentialities of Bergsonian philosophy are by placing them in different contexts.