- Paperback: 278 pages
- Publisher: Adamant Media Corporation (1 Nov. 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1402199392
- ISBN-13: 978-1402199394
- Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.6 x 21 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 304,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Time and Free Will Paperback – 1 Nov 2000
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About the Author
Bergson won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1927. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
In this work, one of his earliest (1887), Bergson introduces his concept of duration which is less of a concept than a real lived sense that is happening in your life right at this moment. But first he introduces the reader to the intensities of psychic states such as beauty, grace, joy, sorrow, pain etc and how a misinterpretation of real lived experience gives rise to a way of philosophy which separates real duration, as it is experienced, into space-like time, this is also evident in feelings which are modified through the space-like construction of experience.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
The book itself is really excellent. Bergson was one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth-century but he does not seem to have the stature today that he once had. I think there are probably a few reasons for that (the dominance of phenomenology in the Continental tradition and language analysis and symbolic logic in the analytic tradition, as well as the fact that Bergson tied some of his ideas to biological theories of his own time which have not held up well). There has been a resurgence of interest in Bergson to some degree which I think is at least partly due to Bergson's undoubted influence on Gilles Deleuze whose star is currently rising. Bergson had a tremendous influence on a whole host of important Continental philosophers (Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Levinas, Deleuze, etc.) so, if for no other reason, he is worth reading as necessary background to those thinkers.
I happen to think that Bergson is worth studying in his own right and not just in terms of the influence he had on later philosophers. Bergson's primary preoccupation was with the nature of time and no one (including, I think, Husserl and Heidegger) spent as much time thinking about time as Bergson did. The nature of time is one of the most interesting, but also one of the most difficult, topics within metaphysics and Bergson had some very important things to say about it.
In Time and Free Will Bergson attempts to defend the notion of free will by arguing that the standard critiques of free will (as well as the standard defense) rely on an inadequate notion of time. It is impossible to summarize Bergson's subtle argument in an amazon review but, basically, the critics (and defenders) of free will have tended to understand time as a homogenous medium like space. Bergson believes that space is the only homogenous medium and that time is pure heterogeneity. The reason for that is that each moment includes the previous moment as a part of its past so that each new moment is totally new. Since no two moments can ever be exactly alike it is impossible to predict the future (the predictions of science, for example, rely on an identity between initial conditions which Bergson, due to his understanding of time, believes is impossible in the life of consciousness).
This is not only an inadequate summary of Bergson's central argument in this book it also fails utterly to get at the true value of this book. What makes this book so valuable and exciting is not necessarily its central thesis but the brilliant analysis of time and the life of consciousness that Bergson provides. I believe that philosophy is inherently a method for making distinctions that ordinary consciousness tends to pass over. Bergson's brilliance lies in the way in which he dissects our ordinary experience of ourselves and reveals the ways in which our standard understanding of ourselves is in fact a misunderstanding. Bergson reveals the life of consciousness operating beneath the distortions of language and conceptual understanding. There is a reason why modernist writers like Marcel Proust, who were attempting to describe the life of consciousness or experience in their works, found Bergson to be such an inspiration.
While Bergson's central argument is certainly interesting and important what is most important are the ways in which Bergson's analysis will completely change the way the reader understands themselves. What more could you possibly ask from a philosophy book?
"In truth, psychophysics merely formulates with precision and pushes to its extreme consequences a conception familiar to common sense.
Lies merely . , , .
Pushes to iti As speech dominates over thought,
extreme conse- , 1 1 . ,
nuenoes the as external objects, which are common
fundamental , , . ,
bnt natural to us all, are more important to us
mistake ol n , ,, .... , ,
garding sensa- than the subjective states through
tions as mag- , . , , , ` ,
which to each of us passes, we have every
thing to gain by objectifying these states, by introducing into them, to the largest possible extent, the representation of their external cause."
Even had this edition been edited, which it clearly has not, I'm not sure how much that could have improved it, given that the creators of the edition clearly speak only rudimentary English. From the copyright section:
"You may not reproduce this book, stored [sic] it in a retrieval system, or transmitted [sic] in any form ..."
Read the other one star reviews and do not buy this edition. Find a copy online or get one from a library. My copy is going back to Amazon tomorrow.
I am keeping my copy only because i think it is funny, but i do not suggest that you do that unless you are mildly masochistic.
This could have all been avoided by merely using the scan and directly printing it, like what was dont for Matter and Memory, instead of copying and pasting to a word document.