Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Duration and Simultaneity by Henri Bergson

Every now and then I get the feeling that I understand Bergson which may be the case or on the other hand an artefact of the compression of duration itself driving a notion into my addled pate. The dialogue with Einstein for instance on certain aspects of relativity theory may have led to a decline in his reputation but what it underscores for me is the deficiency of the common understanding of Bergson's theories that was allied with a rise in the modern cult of the scientist sage. His Duration and Simultaneity as an attempt to clarify his position vis-a-vis relativity was barred from re-publication by him after a few editions not I surmise because he realised that he was wrong or mistaken in his understanding but rather that he felt that it was a cul-de-sac for the promulgation of his philosophy. Significantly his will did not specify that it not be republished even though he directed that the notes of his work in general be destroyed.
Canales PaperDr.Jimena Canales in Einstein, Bergson, and the Experiment that Failed: Intellectual Cooperation at the League of Nations , the 2005 paper which was in ovo the book of last year(The Philosopher and the Physicist) on the same topic fills in the background nicely. To have come to Duration and Simultaneity for the first time at this point is for once a proper order of reading. Expect regular reports:

But now, another and more general question arises as to how physicists have been led, in the first place, to embrace a paradox, namely, the existence of multiple, real times in the universe? Bergson's answer to this question inevitably brings us back to his basic philosophic theme, which consists of his distinction between real, lived time and its "spatialization" into the objects, events, and clock-time of everyday life and of scientific activity.
(from the translator's introduction)

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