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Bergsonism Hardcover – 1 Jan 1988

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 134 pages
  • Publisher: MIT Press (1 Jan. 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 094229906X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0942299069
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,380,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) was Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris VIII, Vincennes/Saint Denis. He published 25 books, including five in collaboration with Felix Guattari. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Frank Bierbrauer on 29 April 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is important to point out that Deleuze is a philosopher both expounding and commenting on Bergson's philosophy. In this book he attempts to connect together the important aspects of Bergson's work ranging from his very earliest treatise "Time and Free Will (TFW)", "Matter and Memory (MM)" to "Creative Evolution (CE)". These are the major texts but he also considers the others such as "Mind Energy", "The Creative Mind" and "The Two Sources of Morality and Religion".

The first of these introduces the concept of duration which is significantly different from the modern idea of time. It is Deleuze's task to join together Bergson's earliest idea of duration and to both see how this concept changes within each of the major texts as well as how it connects them. For example, the idea of duration firstly assumed a kind of psycholigical time or the time the human being actually experiences in his/her everyday life. This is duration in TFW. In MM, Bergson attempts to connect the mind and the body without necessarily letting go of these dualisms but by bypassing them. In CE, duration becomes something physical rather than purely subjective. Bergsonism attempts to connect these issues in a coherent framework linked to the idea of difference and virtuality. This means that there is not just a single duration, i.e. that of the subject, but matter itself also undergoes its own duration.

The concept of virtuality maintains its mystery throughout perhaps because the idea of wholeness only makes sense as long as it is never totally explicit. This comes out more clearly in Bortoft's "The Wholeness of Nature". In other words the virtual differentiates itself to become actual and so is very different from the possible.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By paul on 7 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Deleuze suggests Bergson. When bio-chemistry merges with physics during the mid-21st century. Also, a description of the mind that doesn't exist, except when people create it.
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By englishjazzz on 18 Oct. 2014
Format: Paperback
i love it very impressed indeed
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
59 of 62 people found the following review helpful
Insightful into Bergson, but it's really Bergson-Deleuze 6 April 2001
By "timmyjones" - Published on
Format: Paperback
In this book, Gilles Deleuze analyzes and supplements the work of philosopher Henri Bergson. The importance of this book lies in its ability to give insights not only into the work of Bergson but also into the later work of Deleuze.
For example, the first chapter of this book deals with Bergson's method of intuition. Interestingly enough, Deleuze applies this method to Bergson's own philosophy. In very basic terms, this method involves distinguishing "differences in kind" between elements (this is important, since Bergson believes that we usually go by false generalizations) and then bring together these elements once again but such that we understand them as they truly are and not as what Deleuze calls a "badly analyzed composite". In analyzing Bergson's philosophy, Deleuze distinguishes elan vital, duration, and memomory as the basic concepts. Furthermore, each of these concepts can only be understood in terms of intuition for various reasons; for example, that only intuition can grasp pure movement (duration). Throughout this book, Deleuze usually (although not always) gives an account of Bergson's concepts without assuming complete knowledge on the part of the reader, which is helpful. However, on the other hand, Deleuze doesn't always tell us what is "his" philosophy and what is Bergson's. Because of this, "Bergsonism" should not be utilized as a summary of Bergson's work. That is, even though Deleuze is clear enough for someone with little background in Bergson to understand much of this book, this does not mean that this person would then "know Bergson" but rather a Bergson-Deleuzian hybrid. This isn't a flaw to the book; rather, it merely suggests how it ought to be read. This short book is complex, but very well written by Deleuze, allowing for a maximum amount of information to be intelligibly conveyed in relatively few pages (although this isn't necessarily true of his later work); it moves at a brisk pace without losing the reader and is reccomended for both readers of Bergson and Deleuze.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant exposition of Bergson... 10 Aug. 2012
By Brian C. - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gilles Deleuze wrote two kinds of books. On the one hand, he wrote books that were meant to be explications of his own philosophy and ontology, both alone and in collaboration with Felix Guattari. On the other hand, he wrote numerous works that were meant to be explications of the work of other philosophers, usually philosophers that Deleuze considered to be important influences on his own ontology. I would say it is impossible to understand the first set of books without reading the second, and vice versa. They need to be read together. There are, therefore, two reasons to read this work. First, it is a brilliant exposition of the work of Henri Bergson, and second, it is essential for understanding Deleuze's own philosophy, particularly his understanding of the virtual, multiplicity, and the univocity of Being.

The book is meant to be an analysis of Henri Bergson's ontology, and Deleuze analyzes the most important concepts in Bergson's philosophy in great detail (duration, memory, élan vital, time, space, multiplicity, the virtual, intuition, etc.). The book is full of brilliant insights on Bergson's philosophy which it would not be possible to adequately summarize in this review. I have decided to simply try to summarize two of Deleuze's insights, however inadequate my short summaries must be. I have chosen them almost at random.

First, Deleuze presents a brilliant account of Bergson's method of intuition in the first chapter of this book. Deleuze argues against treating Bergson's method of intuition as a simple intuition of the immediate, bordering on the mystical, and lacking in rigor. Deleuze believes the method of intuition is a rigorous method of distinguishing between true and false problems by analyzing composites into their tendencies. This method leads to a very different metaphysics than traditional metaphysics. For example, Bergson treats time and space as the two fundamental principles (or tendencies) of his metaphysics, as opposed to the metaphysical systems which have been dominant in the West, often inspired by Plato, which tend to be based on a fundamental disjunction between the spatial-temporal taken together, on the one hand, and the eternal (non-temporal, non-spatial), on the other. This has some dramatic implications for ontology. For Plato the Forms are eternal. One can then ask, what determines their existence in space and time? Why does a Form become real at one time rather than another? Why does the Form "man" for example, become instantiated in this particular place and time? This cannot be explained by the Form on its own since the Form is eternal and exists at all times, and so there is the necessity for an external agent (God, perhaps, or the Demiurge) to explain creation in time. For Bergson, there are no eternal Forms, and time itself is a creative power, or process, which through a process of differentiation (or actualization of the virtual) creatively produces forms. By failing to analyze a composite adequately (the spatial-temporal world) one is, therefore, led to false problems, and a false metaphysics.

Second, Deleuze argues that in his later work Bergson moves away from duration as purely psychological. Duration is Being for Bergson. There are, therefore, numerous durations which are not reducible to each other. This raises the question of whether there are one or many durations. Deleuze convincingly argues that the question, Are there one or many durations? should be reconceived as, What kind of multiplicity is duration? This leads to an interesting discussion of Bergson's interpretation of Einstein's theory of relativity (Bergson believed that Einstein treated time as the wrong kind of multiplicity, an actual multiplicity that was numerical and discontinuous, rather than a virtual multiplicity that is continuous and qualitative). I have only provided two examples of places where Deleuze provides a brilliant, and compelling, interpretation of Bergson's philosophy. Most of Deleuze's interpretations of Bergson in this book are, in my opinion, faithful interpretations (contrary to what many people seem to think). There are plenty more examples that I could have cited despite the book's relatively short length. This book is, therefore, definitely worth reading even if one's primary interest is in Bergson rather than Deleuze.

The book is also worth reading, however, because it develops a number of concepts that are important to Deleuze's own philosophy and ontology. Deleuze presents one of his most sustained analyses of the concept of the virtual in this book. This book is, therefore, quite helpful when trying to understand Deleuze's own work, especially books like Difference and Repetition. Of course, the reader has to be careful to distinguish between the aspects of Bergson's philosophy that Deleuze accepts and those he rejects. Deleuze develops Bergson's concept of the virtual, and not his own, in this book, but his analysis is still quite helpful in shedding light on his own understanding of the virtual, since it is, in large part, derived from Bergson. Deleuze's discussion of whether duration is one or many in Bergson is also relevant to his own concept of multiplicity, and his concept of the univocity of Being.

The book is challenging, and will certainly require more than one read through to fully digest its contents. It is also helpful if one is already familiar, not only with Bergson, but with Deleuze as well. You do not need to be an expert in either (I am not) but I think anyone coming to this work without having read a word of Bergson or Deleuze is going to find it very rough going. One should at least have a basic understanding of what Bergson means by duration, and what Deleuze means by the virtual, before reading this book. That is, in my opinion, an absolute bare minimum for understanding this book.
16 of 24 people found the following review helpful
An Important Book on Bergson and Deleuze 5 Jun. 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is about Bergsonfs notions (especially matter and memory), but constitutes Deleuzefs view of the world because of his own interpretation of Bergson. At first, Deleuze mentions to this bookfs aim which is to determine the relationship between the three notions, duration, memory, and elan vital in Bergsonfs philosophy. Then, he considers intuition in Bergson which would be a method to achieve the aim. He sets five rules on intuition and probes the relationship between the three notions. Finally, he relates them in the process of differentiation. This notion of gdifferentiationh is very important in Deleuzefs philosophy, which is clear in his other books. Moreover, this book contains some interesting discussions such as criticism to Einsteinfs theory and to evolutionism. I think that this book is important to understand Deleuzefs philosophy and that it must be a very helpful guide to read his gCinema 1: The Movement-Imageh and gCinema 2: The Time-Imageh.
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