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Duration, Temporality, Self

Prospects for the Future of Bergsonism

Elena Fell

What is the nature of time? This new study engages with the philosophy of Henri Bergson on time and proposes a new way of thinking about the effects of future events on the past. According to Bergson, time is an integral feature of real things, just as much as their material or size. When a flower grows, it takes a period of real time for it to flourish, which cannot be quickened or slowed down, nor can it be eliminated from the process of growth. Bergson named this real time ‘duration’ and argued that everything and everyone exist as duration, and that internal processes flow into one another, with no clear boundaries that separate one phase of duration from another. According to Bergson’s philosophy, the past does not disappear but smoothly flows into the present, forming an indivisible dynamic unity. But what if the causal flow of temporal reality is not unidirectional? What if not only past events influence future ones, but future ones in their turn have retrospective effect on past occurrences? The author of this book analyses these key questions, asserts that the changeability of the past follows from Bergson’s theory of time and proposes a theory of embodied time that involves the retrospective enrichment of reality.


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List of Tables and Diagrams ix Acknowledgments xi Introduction 1 Chapter 1 Bergson’s Method and Key Concepts 7 Chapter 2 Duration in Time and Free Will 15 Chapter 3 Body, Soul and the World in Matter and Memory 33 Chapter 4 Consciousness, Life and the Universe in Creative Evolution 59 Chapter 5 Heterogeneous Duration 85 Chapter 6 Time 113 Chapter 7 Duration: From General Idea to Concrete Self 145 viii Chapter 8 The Structure of Rational Selfhood 171 Chapter 9 Evolutionary, Historical and Biographical Continuity 201 Conclusion 221 Bibliography 225 Index 235

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