Dans le cadre de du projet IRN du CNRS sur le Bergsonisme dans l’histoire globale de la philosophie, un séminaire Zoom organisé par Mathilde Tahar et Caterina Zanfi consacré aux recherches bergsoniennes internationales les plus actuelles aura lieu sur Zoom à partir de Janvier 2022.
Lien Zoom récurrent pour joindre les différentes séances du séminaire :
Meeting ID: 950 9606 0568
21 Janvier 2022, 14h-16h30 GMT+1 (Paris time) – Thinking Life
Tano Posteraro (Concordia University) – Wasp Epistemology: Bergson and Fabre on Instinctual Knowledge
This paper reconstructs the contentious view of biological sympathy that Bergson developed in Creative Evolution. It was this view that Bertrand Russell had in mind—in particular, that philosophical intuition is a species of sympathy, not intelligence—when he charged that intuition is at its best in bats, bees, and Bergson. Insults aside, I do not think that Bergson’s idea of sympathy has yet to receive the critical scholarly attention it deserves. This paper begins to address that lack.
Bergson’s case study for his idea of sympathy was the relationship between parasitizing wasps (Ammophilaand Sphex) and their prey (caterpillars and crickets). He claimed that the appearance of knowledge exhibited in the parasites concerning the bodies of their prey should be considered a form of internal access, i.e., of biological sympathy. Parasites do not know the anatomy of their prey the way entomologists do, from the outside, mediated by concepts. They know their prey directly, via sympathetic rapport. I begin the paper by returning to Bergson’s source material for this case, entomologist Henri J. Fabre’s Souvenirs entomologiques. I review Fabre’s insights into the Sphex wasp and the controversy in mechanistic studies of instinct surrounding the way Fabre described the wasp in terms of a sophisticated knowledge regarding its prey. Then I situate Bergson’s use of the case in the context of Fabre’s uptake in philosophy and criticism by, for instance, the Peckhams, for conflating so-called “blind instinct” with intelligent action. I show that Bergson is well aware of the criticisms of the case and is capable of responding to them by rigorously distinguishing two forms of knowledge, instinctual from intellectual. What is at work in parasitic relationships is a form of instinctual knowledge, which is what Bergson intends to capture with the concept of sympathy.
I conclude the paper by venturing some provisional claims regarding Bergson’s extension of the idea of sympathy across all centers of life, on the basis of the fact that they are all unified internally via their common heritage in the evolutionary process, whether they deploy that internal unity for parasitic purchase on each other’s anatomies or not. I suggest that Bergson’s theory of sympathy, appropriately generalized, can be recast in terms of the more recent study of symbiosis. Thus, far from the bizarre irrationalism that Russell ridiculed it for, this view of sympathy may be closer to the contemporary science than scholars have yet to appreciate.
Joel Dolbeault (Université de Lille 3) – The Bergsonian Hypothesis of a Unity of Living Beings
In Creative Evolution, Bergson asserts that, despite its division into multiple lineages and individuals, life forms a single whole (Bergson, CE, Dover, 43, 54, 167, 250, 259). The aim of this presentation will be twofold: on the one hand, to explain this somewhat strange assertion; on the other hand, to explain why Bergson defends this idea. The main stakes will be as follows: to grasp the originality of the hypothesis of the élan vital (in relation to vitalism in particular) and to show that this metaphysical hypothesis aims to explain a set of biological facts.
1) As in classical vitalism, Bergson conceives of life as a special force. However, as opposed to classical vitalism, he thinks that this force is psychic in nature. Moreover, he makes the hypothesis that, despite the physical multiplicity of organisms, life forms a single psychic whole. This relation between physical multiplicity and psychic unity is understandable from the ideas developed by Bergson in Matter and Memory.
2) The hypothesis of the élan vital aims to explain biological facts. The idea that life forms a single psychic whole is part of this hypothesis. For Bergson, this idea can explain evolutionary convergences (CE, ch. I), the phenomenon of instinct (ch. II), or even the tendency of organisms to associate (ch. III).
Chair: Mathilde Tahar (Université de Toulouse II)
18 Mars 2022, 14h-16h30 GMT+1 (Paris time) – Machine and Organism
Bruno Rates (Universidade de São Paulo) – Bergson and the Birth of « machinisme »: The Law of Double Frenzy and the Debate with Edouard Dolléans, Gina Lombroso, Paul Mantoux et Louis Weber
Timothy Deane-Freeman (Deakin University) – Inside Out: Germinal Organization in Bergson and Simondon
Chair: Emanuele Clarizio (Université Catholique de Lille)
6 mai 2022 (14h-16h30 heure de Paris) : Bergson et la littérature
Bruno Clément (Paris VIII) – Pour une chorégraphie du discours philosophique – sur quelques propositions d’Henri Bergson
Clément Girardi (Sorbonne Université, CELLF) – Handke et Bergson : habiter, cohabiter
Chair : Ioulia Podoroga (Institut de philosophie de l’Académie russe des sciences)