La prochaine séance de l’Atelier Bergson aura lieu sur Zoom le 28 mars 2023 de 14h à 16h30 (CET)
Lien Zoom : https://cnrs.zoom.us/j/95096060568?pwd=ek43aEpvYmFocGFOejlqc0tKdkd2UT09
Meeting ID: 950 9606 0568
mot de passe: hqxn4
Matyas Moravec (University of St. Andrews) — Analytic Bergsonism
The aim of my talk will be to discuss the prospects for a new philosophical movement entitled “Analytic Bergsonism.” I will do so by exploring the possibility of translating the thought of Bergson into the language of analytic philosophy.
Recent years have seen a heightened interest in the philosophy of Bergson (traditionally classified as a “continental” thinker due to the style of his writings and his later influence on the likes of Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, or Deleuze) from analytic philosophers. Bergson turns up in analytic discussions of temporal experience, biology, free will, or the philosophy of religion. This process is similar to the way in which the thought of Thomas Aquinas was taken up by analytic philosophers of religion, who have translated his thought from the language of scholastic metaphysics into the style of 20th-century analytic philosophy. This eventually crystallised into a movement now commonly known as “Analytical Thomism.” Naturally, the thought suggests itself: Can something like this be done with Bergson? As a matter of fact, the “Kyoto Manifesto” of Bergsonism published in 2020 explicitly encourages philosophers to take seriously the idea of a “philosophically clean-shaven analytic Bergson.”
My talk will proceed in three steps:
- 1. In the first step, I will explore “Analytic Appropriations”—attempts by analytic thinkers to translate the philosophical systems of historical figures into the language and style of contemporary analytic philosophy. Examples will include the “rational reconstruction” of Spinoza by Jonathan Bennett, Humeanism in the philosophy of science, or the influence that Kant exerts on debates about constructivism in ethics.
- 2. In the second step, I will focus on one specific case of such an appropriation: Analytical Thomism. I will discuss the benefits and pitfalls of converting sections of Aquinas’ metaphysical system into the argumentative structures and style of analytic philosophy.
- 3. In the third step, I will explore whether Analytic Thomism could provide a feasible methodological blueprint for Analytic Bergsonism. I will do so by asking three questions: (i) Can Analytic Bergsonism be generated? (ii) If it can, what would it be? (ii) If it cannot, why not? I will argue that the style of analytic philosophy is both the reason why an analytic translation can be done in the case of Aquinas but not in the case of Bergson. This is because in the case of Aquinas, analytic philosophers start with theological (that is, extra-philosophical) doctrinal commitments to orthodoxy (e.g., the existence of God, the Incarnation, etc.) and then clarify those using the methodology and style of analytic philosophy. I will propose that in the case of Bergson, it is both hard to see what these “doctrinal” presuppositions would be and that Bergson’s philosophical style is not easily separable from the content of his philosophy and replaceable by the style in which analytic philosophy is usually conducted.
Thomas Bourdier (Université Bordeaux-Montaigne) — What does it mean that the past still exists? Bergson and the growing-block theory of time
That the past still exists is a familiar thesis for Bergson’s readers. In the field of “analytic bergsonism”, this claim naturally leads to a cautious rapprochement with the so called “growing block theory of time” (Broad, Tooley, Forrest and many others). However, it is doubtful that Bergson would endorse such a theory as it is. Firstly, the very name of the “growing block theory” seems to imply some misunderstanding concerning the nature of time because representation of the universe as a block of spacetime (even growing) is a mere representation and not an adequate description of reality, at least from a bergsonian point of view. Secondly, the growing block theory faces a famous “epistemic” objection (Braddon-Mitchell) which sounds very strange and off-topic regarding Bergson’s approach. Moreover, this approach itself is not clear and deserves some explanations.
In this communication, I propose to elucidate the survival of the past as Bergson seems to understand it in contrast with the growing block theory of time. I proceed as follows : (1) I present the growing-block theory of time and try to emphasize the limits of this theory from a bergsonian point of view ; this leads (2) to an attempt of exegesis of Matter and memory (chapter III) concerning the existence of the personal past, mainly in trying to conciliate the two pictures of qualitative multiplicity (where the past is in the present) and of the cone memory (where my present is the extreme point of my past) ; finally (3), I propose a more speculative reconstruction of “cosmic memory” (memory of the Universe as a whole) and of the survival of the past in an ontological sense (not only psychological) of which we have no detailed account from Bergson. In conclusion, I emphasize the contrast between growing block and bergsonian theories of time.