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At one point in his contribution to this volume, McDowell says that the principle of

charity requires that we not attribute bad philosophy to someone unless we are forced to
do so (p. 85). The problem with this construal of the principle of charity is that it is often
very difficult to distinguish between bad philosophy and extraordinary philosophy,
especially when it comes to Hegel. The nal impression I took away from this ne
collection is that Hegels theory of action is, in fact, most interesting and even most
insightful precisely on those points where it looks most implausible, even outrageous.
This volume represents a welcome effort to make Hegels hard sayings intelligible in
more contemporary philosophic language.
Mark Alznauer
Department of Philosophy
Northwestern University
Quante, M. (1993), Hegels Begriff der Handlung. Stuttgart-Bad Canstatt: Frommann
Wood, A. W. (1990), Hegels Ethical Thought. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Bergson and Phenomenology, edited by Michael R. Kelly. Basingstoke: Palgrave
Macmillan, 2010, xii + 277 pp.
ISBN 978-0-230-20238-2 hb 55.00
Henri Bergson (18591941) is widely recognized to be Frances greatest philosopher of the
modern period. He was the author of four classic texts of philosophy, three of them
characterized by a combination of exceptional philosophical gifts and impressive mastery
of extensive scientic literature. Each text offers readers a number of theoretical innova-
tions. Time and Free Will (1889) provides a novel account of free will by showing that time
is not space and that psychic states do not lend themselves to treatment as magnitudes.
Matter and Memory (1896) provides a non-orthodox (non-Cartesian) dualism of matter and
mind, seeking to show that while the difference between matter and perception is one of
degree (unless we construe it in these terms, the emergence of perception out of matter
becomes something mysterious and inexplicable), that between perception and memory
is one of kind (unless we construe it in these terms, memory is deprived of any
autonomous character and is reduced to being a merely diluted form of perception).
Matter and Memory offers an extremely rich and novel account of different types of
memory that philosophical psychology is still catching up with today. In Creative Evolution
(1907) Bergson endeavours to demonstrate the need for a philosophy of life in which the
theory of knowledge and a theory of life are viewed as inseparably bound up with one
another. In the text, Bergson seeks to establish what philosophy must learn from the new
biology (the neo-Darwinism established by August Weismann) and what philosophy
can offer the new theory of the evolution of life. It is a tour de force, a work of truly
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extraordinary philosophical ambition. In The Two Sources of Morality and Religion (1932),
his nal text, and where the engagement with scientic literature is not as extensive,
Bergson outlines a novel approach to the study of society (sociology) with his categories
of the closed and the open and the static and the dynamic.
Bergsons ambition was to restore the absolute as the legitimate object of philosophy
and to accomplish this by showing how it is possible to think beyond the human
conditionthat is, beyond our spatialized and instrumental habits of representation.
Although he contests Kants stress on the relativity of knowledge to the human stand-
point in a manner similar to Hegel, his conception of the absolute is not the same. This
is the surprise of Bergson, and perhaps explains why he appears as such an unfamiliar
gure to us today: he seeks to demonstrate the absoluteconceived as the totality of
differences in the world, differences of degree and differences of kindthrough placing
man back into nature and the evolution of life. In other words, he uses the resources
of naturalism and empiricism to support an apparently Idealist philosophical pro-
gramme. Indeed, Bergson argues that true empiricism is the real metaphysics and held
that the more the sciences of life develop, the more they will feel the need to reintegrate
thought into the very heart of nature. In his own day he was read primarily as an
empiricist whose thinking amounted, in the words of his former pupil and later harsh
critic, Jacques Maritain, to a wild experimentalism. Maritain accused Bergson of pro-
ducing an ontology of becoming not after the fashion of Hegels panlogism, but rather
after the fashion of an integral empiricism. Julien Benda vigorously protested against
Bergsons demand for new ways of thinking and new methods in philosophy and called
for a return to the hyper-rationalism of Spinoza. Bergson does not readily t into the
two main camps that dene the contemporary academic institution of philosophy:
neither the continental one which insists on keeping apart philosophy and science and
regards any interest in science as philosophically suspect, nor the analytic one which
cheerfully subsumes philosophy within the ambit of the natural sciences and renders
metaphysics otiose. As Gilles Deleuze rightly observed, in the case of Bergson, scientic
hypotheses and metaphysical theses are constantly combined in an effort to reconstitute
complete experience.
As Michael Kelly notes in his Introduction, it is in fact only in the twenty-rst century
that a Bergsonian school of thought has emerged. Bergsons thought was in serious
decline in his own lifetime, and after the end of the Second World War existentialism
became the popular philosophy in France. This new Bergsonian school of thought seeks
to revive Bergsons thought on its own terms, but here, in this volume, the editor seeks
an encounter between Bergson and phenomenologythe dominant discourse in conti-
nental philosophy today. If there is reason for accepting Bergson into this tradition, a good
place to start would be with exploring his unacknowledged inuence on phenomenology
and even how the concepts Bergson fashioned might be relevant for issues in contem-
porary research in phenomenology. To a large extent, this is what is attempted in this
edited collection of essays, which has been skilfully put together by the editor. He notes
at the outset of his Introduction to the volume that although Sartre admitted to being
bowled over by BergsonMerleau-Ponty would go further and maintain that Bergson
bowled over philosophyhis ideas and texts have received little attention from phenom-
enology both in its history and today: Twentieth-century phenomenology in its relations
to Bergson thus ranges from the polite to the dismissive to the confrontational. But serious
engagement never occurred (p. 3). History gives us only isolated incidents and neglected
possibilities for staging an encounter between Bergson and phenomenology, such as
Husserls reported disclosure that phenomenologists are the true Bergsonians. But, as
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Deleuze pointed out in his Afterword to the English translation of his book Bergsonism
(rst published in France in 1966), any return to Bergson nowadays should mean not only
a renewed admiration for a great philosopher but an extension of his project today in
relation to transformations taking place in life and society and in parallel with transfor-
mations in science. He thought Bergsons research could be followed through in three
directions and he noted that the same themes are to be found in phenomenology: intuition
as a method, philosophy as a rigorous science, and the theory of multiplicities as a new
logic. Michael Kelly also notes that the ground is fertile for staging a productive rapport
between Bergson and phenomenology, with both Husserl and Bergson making, in
response to scientism and psychologism, a turn to experience and emphasizing the
importance of time, embodiment and intuition.
Having noted this, it is equally important to appreciate the extent to which the agendas
differ and the two traditions of thought diverge on the question of experience. Where
Husserl sought a science of the essential structures of consciousness, Bergson sought to
develop a new philosophy of life and within it a metaphysics of freedom and novelty.
Moreover, can phenomenology effect, as Bergsonism seeks to, a transformation of life and
society or, in its quest for the primordially lived, is it unable to ght against the tyranny
of perceptual and affective clichs, being content to imprison the movement of life within
the realm of common sense? Although we can locate in Bergson a Bergsonian epoch, in
which the question about the reality or ideality of the external world is bracketed, and
although Bergsons expansion of experience and Husserls deepening of it put the two on
the same road, they ultimately are walking, as Kelly puts it, in different directions. As he
notes, Bergson does not focus on the qualitative feel of life so as to accord privilege to the
rst-person perspective of consciousness and against the reductive claims of the sciences.
Although he does invoke a turn of experience, this, as the editor correctly notes, denotes
in Bergson a turn to a moment prior to experience becoming relative to human needs
and intelligence. Bergson is thus proposing a turn away from what is given to conscious-
ness and, as the editor notes, phenomenology does not fully turn away from the human
contribution to experience because its epoch turns only to a clarication of the dogmas
and mundane engagements that obscure the phenomena as presented to experience
(p. 9). Bergsonism does not, then, privilege human consciousness since the aim is to
reintegrate it into nature or life (we are presented with a Whole that is neither given nor
giveable). Indeed, Bergson conceives philosophy as the discipline that raises us above
the human condition (la philosophie nous aura levs au-dessus de la condition humaine) and
makes the effort to surpass (dpasser) it (Bergson 1965: 50). Philosophy provides us with
the methods for reversing the normal directions of the mind (instrumental, utilitarian), so
upsetting its habits. Because it nds itself having to work against the most inveterate
habits of the mind, Bergson compares philosophy to an act of violence. The aim of the
enterprise is to expand the humanity within us and allow humanity to surpass itself by
reinserting itself in the whole (it recognizes it is part of nature and the evolution of life).
Intelligence is reabsorbed into its principle and comes to know its own genesis. In spite
of what one might think, this makes the task of philosophy a modest one. If we suppose
that philosophy is an affair of perception, then it cannot simply be a matter of correcting
perception but only of extending it. As Michael Kelly notes, Bergson goes beyond the aim
of clarifying the intentionalities of the natural attitude by seeking to effect a radical turn
to what he called the very life of things in the realm of the real world and our own
implication in them. As Merleau-Ponty noted in one of his appreciations of Bergson, for
Bergson absolute knowledge is not detachment but inherence. Indeed, Merleau-Ponty
goes so far as to impute to Bergson the regaining at the heart of our being in the world
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a pre-Socratic and prehuman meaning of the world: Never before had anyone estab-
lished this circuit between being and myself which is such that beings exists for me, the
spectator, but which is also such that the spectator exists for being (Merleau-Ponty
1964: 185).
It is in this attempt to radicalize the meaning of human experience that the editor
of this volume thinks a nouvelle-Bergsonism can be found in contemporary phenom-
enology. This may strike many readers sympathetic to phenomenology as an audacious
claim, but it makes sense when one considers the effect that the work of several
post-phenomenologists, such as Derrida for example, have had on our thinking about
consciousness, subjectivity, intentionality, presence and so on. As Kelly puts it, the
increasing talk in phenomenology of the solicitation of the object, sensitivity to how
being gives itself and the call of the other suggests an increasing convergence of
phenomenology and Bergson (p. 11). The aim of this volume as a whole is to rediscover
an audacious Bergson and, moreover, through such a recovery give serious consid-
eration to the claim, equally audacious perhaps, that Bergson always has had more to
say to phenomenology than phenomenology has allowed him to say. The principal
effort of the volume, then, is to place the two traditions of thoughts in dialogue and
there would be little point in doing this if there was not in the rst place quite
fundamental concerns the two share and have in common, such as the claims of modern
science to give us the only true access to the real. Both traditions of thought call into
question scientism and the attempt to quantify the quality of life and so have a common
foenamely, the positivistic conception of science. Bergson called for what one might
call a superior positivism which he outlined in his Huxley lecture of 1911 on Life and
Consciousness: we possess now a certain number of lines of facts, which do not go as
far as we want, but which we can prolong hypothetically (Bergson 2007: 4). This is
taken up again in the Two Sources of Morality and Religion, where he states that the
different lines of fact indicate for us the direction of truth but none go far enough; the
attainment of truth can only take place when the lines are prolonged to the point where
they intersect. In Creative Evolution, Bergson attempted to show that the problem of
knowledge, the problem of accounting for the faculties of intellect and intuition, is one
with the metaphysical problemthe problem of gaining access to the real: the two form
a circle, the centre of which is the empirical study of evolution. The double form of
consciousness (intuition and intellect) is shown to be the double form of the real
itself. The attempt to demonstrate this constitutes what we might choose to call the
Bergsonian revolution. It is an effort to enter into lifes own domain, conceived as
reciprocal interpenetration, indenitely continued creation.
Bergson and Phenomenology features thirteen essays in total and is divided into three
main parts. Part one endeavours to lay the ground for opening up a debate between
Bergson and phenomenology. It features essays by Leonard Lawlor on intuition and
duration; Rudolf Bernet on the driven force of consciousness and life; Gary Gutting on
Bergson and Merleau-Ponty on experience and science; and Stephen Crocker on art, life
and nitude in Bergsons essay on laughter. Part two brings the two traditions into close
rapport and centres on the actual debates between them. It features essays by Hanne
Jacobs and Trevor Perri on intuition and freedom in Husserl and Bergson; Dan Zahavi on
life and phenomenology in the early Bergson; Pete Gunter on a Bergsonian critique of
Sartres concept of time; Alia AlSaji on Bergson and Merleau-Ponty on a new theory of
vision; Nicolas de Warren on Bergson and Levinas on creation; and John Mullarkey
on Bergson and Michel Henry on the psycho-physics of phenomenology. The third
and nal part is on the life-world and life and aims to expose the core issues at stake in
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the debate between Bergson and phenomenology. As the editor puts it, the issue of life
cuts to the very point at which Husserl (phenomenology) and Bergson may both meet
and diverge, namely the relation between intentionality and the lan vital (p. 16). The core
issue centres on whether classical phenomenology or Bergson can make a positive
contribution to a phenomenology of life and where life is taken to mark the meeting
point of the natural and the transcendental. This third part features three essays: Pierre
Kerszberg on life and life-world in Bergson and phenomenology; Frdric Worms on
consciousness and life in Bergson and that situates him between phenomenology and
metaphysics; and Renaud Barbaras on the failure of Bergsonism which focuses on
Bergsons inability to get to the essence of the meaning of life. The essays are uniformly
excellent and the editor Michael Kelly has succeeded in putting together a welcome and
timely volume of essays; it is a book that should greatly aid the recovery of Bergson now
taking place and it succeeds in showing him to be a major philosophical gure that is
refreshingly contemporary.
Keith Ansell-Pearson
Department of Philosophy
University of Warwick
Bergson, H. (1965), Creative Mind, trans. M. L. Andison. Totowa, NJ: Littleeld, Adams.
(2007), Mind-Energy, trans. H. Wildon Carr. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Merleau-Ponty, M. (1964), Bergson in the Making, in Signs, trans. R. C. McCleary.
Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.
The Pragmatic Turn, by Richard J. Bernstein. Cambridge: Polity, 2010, xi + 263 pp.
ISBN 978-0-7456-4907-8 hb 55.00; ISBN 978-0-7456-4908-5 pb 17.99
If one is asked what pragmatism is about, no short or precise answer comes readily to
hand. The term pragmatism, arising from the Greek pragma, meaning action, signals an
effort to bring intellectual things down to questions of practical interestbut this surely
is too wide a circumscription. Fundamentalist political movements are typically doing
just this: setting academic goals regarding what to produce intellectually, out of a given
interest. This is not what pragmatists are in sympathy with. Rather, what they have in
mind is both a critique of socially decontextualized thought (paradigmatically traditional
philosophy) and a programme of social democratic culture. These are difficult and
somehow overambitiousperhaps even conictingaims. Their attack on pure thought
demands from pragmatists a wide-ranging campaign not only against traditional phi-
losophy, but also against its more recent analytic manifestations: already an enormous
task. To go one step further: How do pragmatisms therapeutic quest and its partisanship
for a left-wing liberal policy work together? Are philosophical self-criticism and demo-
cratic policy not simply too far apart?
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