on 11 April 2007
This is an excellent review of Bergson's first two major works: "Time and Free Will" and "Matter and Memory". Guerlac almost works through the major aspects chapter by chapter in each book. She discusses all of the important ideas of Bergson, especially duration and the virtual. Reading Bergson is no ordinary journey, it's philosophy without the abstract constructs which always seem so artificial and far removed from real experience. Bergson's task was to experience real life as it truly is and write about it without getting bogged down in rigid concepts which remain fixed. This is a very dificult task indeed but somehow he does it. Like others have said once you have read Bergson then nothing remains the same. It is his ability to differentiate between space and time as duration which makes his work something special. Guerlac explores these aspects deeply and, amazingly, without losing the reader on the way; quite unlike Pearson or even Deleuze whose attempt at clarity lead back to abstraction to some degree. In fact, it is possible to read Guerlac's book without having read Bergson and then read his books afterwards, this is just about impossible with either Deleuze's "Bergsonism" or Pearson's "Philosophy and the Adventure of the Virtual". Probably the best introduction to Bergson's work I have read even including Herbert Carr's enjoyable books.
on 13 October 2010
I purchased this text to assist me when completing my masters. Guerlac explores the first two of Bergson's texts in which he examines human perception of time and memory.
Guerlac translates many sections of Bergson's works directly from the original French texts and this was a particularly helpful aspect of her work. The common translations of Bergson's works were written in 1912/1913 and so Guerlac's translations into 'modern' English make Bergson's texts far more accessible. Guerlac's exposition and interpretation of Bergson's philosophy is erudite and includes a discussion both of the reception/publishing history of his work, as well the implications it still has in the modern world. My only wish would be for Guerlac to provide a complete translation of Bergson's works.
I would thoroughly recommend this text to anyone interested in Bergson's philosophy or who is studying it.