Wednesday, 7 December 2022

Bergson and Irrationalism/Irrealism


“There would still remain this second conclusion, which is of a more metaphysical order,—viz. : that in pure perception we are actually placed outside ourselves, we touch the reality of the object in an immediate intuition. “(Matter and Memory pg.84)

This is a very powerful assertion not lightly made and he hopes that in subsequent chapters of his book ‘Matter and Memory’ that he will be able to advance empirical justification.  Read in cool blood it is the sort of position that furnished evidence for the common judgment of Bergson as a thinker immersed in irrationalism.  From a logical point of view either Materialism or Idealism would give you a more likely position.  As I wrote in recent posts  his philosophy has points of similarity with those of yoga and Vedanta namely ‘samprajnata’ and ‘adhyasa’ (superimposition) so it is not so startling to me.

In the first chapter he laid out the grounds for his rejection of epistemological Realism and Idealism and we know that he spent years reading up on lesion and aphasia studies which are commonly assumed to establish brain/mind parallelism/identity and so forth.  This time by my new rubric I will be reading ‘Matter and Mind’ very slowly as though I had written it myself and attempt an alignment with his thinking.   He doesn’t positively controvert other philosophers by name.  A possible influence might be Plotinus who he lectured on frequently.  ‘Time and Eternity’ in the Enneads might be a point of entry into his mind.

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