“Bergson and Time”
Starting date: Feb 11 (Friday), biweekly, 2-4 pm (EST)
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"...it is not easy, in thinking of time, to escape the image of the hour-glass"
Henri Bergson, Creative Evolution
This reading group will take up part of philosopher Henri Bergson's writing on time through a full reading of his book Creative Evolution (1907). We will first begin with short pieces by William James on time and Bergson, move on to Creative Evolution, and then end with excerpts of later theoretical and critical responses to Bergson.
The problem suggested by Bergson with "the image of the hour-glass" is that our conceptualizations of time are limited. How might we, then, extend or thicken our concepts of time? Bergson raises questions about our notions of, or our demarcations between, the past and the present. Another frame might be to consider the contrast between our objective notions of time (clock time, for example) against subjective experiences of time. Some of the terms that we might think through in Bergson's metaphysics of time include: feeling, difference, succession, memory, duration, élan vital, (present) perception, and intuition, among others.
There are implications in Creative Evolution, as well, for thinking about psychology and aesthetic representation. Other questions that Bergson's text raises might include: the ontological value of duration; aesthetic representation in language and art (form); evolution (expanding from or in contrast to Darwinian evolutionary theory); and creativity/novelty.
Schedule and readings:
Feb 11 (2-4 pm EST)
William James: "The Perception of Time" (1886/1890) and "Bergson and his Critique of Intellectualism" (1909). Optional: William James, "Memory."
Feb 25 (2-4 pm EST)
Creative Evolution: Chapters 1-2
Mar 11 (2-4 pm EST)
Creative Evolution: Chapters 3-4
Mar 25 & Apr 8 (2-4 pm EST)
Excepts TBA from: Bergsonism (Gilles Deleuze); The Nick of Time: Politics, Evolution, and the Untimely (Elizabeth Grosz); Bergson: Thinking Beyond the Human Condition (Keith Ansell-Pearson); The Physicist and the Philosopher: Einstein, Bergson, and the Debate That Changed Our Understanding of Time (Jimena Canales); The Dialectic of Duration (Gaston Bachelard); and The Witch's Flight: the Cinematic, the Black Femme, and the Image of Common Sense (Kara Keeling). See also: John Ó Maoilearca's writing on Bergson.