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Between Critique And Metaphysics
Frédéric Wormsa; Robin Mackayb
a
Université Charles-de-Gaulle - Lille 3, Domaine universitaire du “Pont de Bois”, France b Centre for
Research in Modern European Philosophy, Middlesex University, London N14 4YZ, UK

To cite this Article Worms, Frédéric and Mackay, Robin(2005) 'Between Critique And Metaphysics', Angelaki, 10: 2, 39 —
57
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URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09697250500417175

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ANGEL AK I
journal of the theoretical humanities
volume 10 number 2 august 2005

or Bergson (1859–1941) as for Brunschvicg
F (1869–1944), science is not an accomplished
fact or a given consisting only of a series of
objective data about the world, but an ongoing
task, a conquest even, consisting above all of
a subjective rupture in man. Furthermore, this
veritable break reveals to us, by way of contrast or
through the obstacles that it must surmount, our
Downloaded By: [University of Sydney] At: 11:36 14 November 2010

metaphysical destination. Whence the crucial yet fre¤de¤ric worms
highly sensitive role that the problem of science
plays in their respective philosophies.
But two questions immediately suggest them-
translated by robin mackay
selves, responses to which will occupy us here.
First of all, if the problem of science is common
to them – moreover, if in the encounter between
these two philosophers, ascendant at the time, BETWEEN CRITIQUE
it defines one of the central questions of an epoch,
AND METAPHYSICS
of a certain moment, 1900s France – are not the
two responses they put forward nevertheless science in bergson and
profoundly opposed to one another? What could
there be in common between the critical deepening brunschvicg
and the metaphysical surpassing of science which
Brunschvicg and Bergson respectively assign as
the task of philosophy? in addition, that it pertains to a problem which
What is more, supposing that this internal we cannot ignore today, namely that of thinking
deepening and this external surpassing of science the place of science in the context of the entirety
have something in common, would it not be of our experience, whether in order to maintain a
precisely that double-edged ‘‘spiritualism’’ which critique of the former, as has been done after
represents the more dated – or outdated – aspect of Bergson (and in ways other than his own),
that very same moment, 1900s France? Is there for example by Deleuze or Merleau-Ponty, or to
something worth salvaging today in the way in continue to deepen it, as has been done after
which they pose the problem of science, even if not Brunschvicg (and in ways other than his own), for
in their proposed solutions? example by Bachelard or Cavaillès. Unless we
We will seek here to defend the following two revisit these two doctrines, we can understand
theses: firstly, that the comparison of these two neither the problem nor the way in which it
doctrines concerning science brings to light continues both to connect and to oppose the
a common problem which is central to a key philosophical enterprises that have succeeded it,
moment in the history of philosophical thought, up to the present day.
and which allows us better to appreciate both of But we must first try to understand precisely the
these bodies of work on their own account; but, problem of science itself as it is posed here, and the
ISSN 0969-725X print/ISSN 1469-2899 online/05/020039^19 ß 2005 Taylor & Francis and the Editors of Angelaki
DOI: 10.1080/09697250500417175

39

but ultimate criterion in the study of Einstein’s whose elaboration into the most profound under- theory of relativity. . or science has its basis in a specific activity of our on the contrary of seeing in it a quasi-definitive mind. as has ask whether. Thus. on the contrary. the break Here the divergences will be still more marked introduced by the existence of science. Brunschvicg. in between ‘‘Science’’ and its other. to the progress of scientific knowl. the two problem common to Bergson and Brunschvicg thinkers both locate the specificity of scientific with regard to scientific cognition. That we must initially study the two different question of reviving. to scientific cognition. and the thought primarily in a particularly precise principles of the opposing solutions which they activity of the mind (whose analysis seems to propose. Beyond the distinction cognition ‘‘science’’ in opposition to another. whose metaphysical and moral import science in bergson thus appears inversely through the very threats ‘‘There is nothing to prevent us from calling every that it encounters. But in addition. and of an according to each of the two authors. in both cases. will be the first path we shall briefly basis of science. 40 . Thus. irreducible (despite the parallels) between the resistance both to its logical conditions and to its technical which time – or rather. of sciences runs up against the diversity of Thus the following remarks will argue: experience that it becomes possible to put to the test not those doctrines that there can be no . despite the divergences. the function. our spontaneous representation or our imagina- tion ceaselessly presents. same moment to study ‘‘from the inside. Meanwhile. an activity whose role in even our most accomplishment. which they both seek at the standing of the universe must also be examined. Downloaded By: [University of Sydney] At: 11:36 14 November 2010 refer back in part. dimensions of our life. in these two bodies of work. For both of them it seems that the existence of whether it is a matter of partly contesting it. one in which our metaphysical – and profound divergences which must be examined in even moral – destination lies. duration – presents. name a certain type of latter. and that which more detail.’’ This. critique and metaphysics two different solutions to it that are proposed. logical. establish a break between the endeavours of scientific thought and the rest of our knowledge or our experience. it is by a distinction which he considers fundamental. to different moments in Kant’s work). according to Bergson and which it may not prove possible to abandon. Whether it is a question of the representation of Let us recall first of all what appears to us to be the space or of the activity of judgement. owing to its susceptibility to another mode of But here the resemblances end. according to Brunschvicg. We must then return to the obstacles that. one might well type of cognition ‘science’ or ‘philosophy’.1 But only so as to remark immediately more immanent significance for science even as that one can in fact no longer proceed thus. both thinkers will find their everyday experience must be demonstrated. structure and object of edge. productions. and studying those problems wherein the diversity which in effect underlies his entire philosophy. the been done for a long time’’: this is the surprising distinction between scientific endeavour and the thesis advocated by Bergson in The Creative obstacles that it encounters does not assume a Mind.’’ in a certain sense – of the concrete role which its existence plays in our life. We find i science: a break in our life which a strange parallel here. reunites the world? between the points of departure and arrival. that it ensures the fecundity and pertinence of the one must. before studying each of them in their turn. giving way to knowing. but also of a study – ‘‘psycho- retrace here. it is not solely a question of a ‘‘critical’’ examination (in Kant’s sense of the word) of the in any case. can teach us of the universe. science ultimately ‘‘cosmological’’ perspective on what it encounters in its way or must try to surmount. does indeed make itself known in all according to Bergson. to the present day. but rather a problem principles which.

it is through Bergson will never waver. science can do no more than carry bated the Kantian problem of the accord between to the limit a distinction between two modes of our knowledge and its objects. to truth ment and calculation.’’ immanent to our very function of our perception. as it is mathematisable or rather geometrisable. since precision alone ensures But what distinguishes ‘‘science’’ and consti. and according to Bergson: science resides in a very specifically to the material universe. it does not seem.’’ So the basis of science resides. has at least two the representation of a pure space wherein only Downloaded By: [University of Sydney] At: 11:36 14 November 2010 important consequences: certainly. this time in 1255. Contrary to what we said opposition to a simple ‘‘common sense’’. at a distance from themselves. which takes to its to distinguish science. or more precisely still. according to of our body and the representations of our mind. Oeuvres precision that constitutes it as such. that perception prepares them for the purposes.’’ Further still: ‘‘it can only find its basis in dent de jure. in extending the practical an ‘‘immanent geometry. of our actions to that of our minds. it permits us homogeneous objects can exist that our mind to oppose science to another mode of cognition renders calculation and measurement possible. according to Bergson – is ultimate limit the structure of our perception or of at once its function. Bergson. What primarily distinguishes science. these psychological functions. or what Bergson calls ‘‘common but on the contrary from the condition. and the technical nature of the intelligence that accessible to number. owing to both its vital whole of our knowledge and of our life. my emphasis). however. worms What distinguishes science – what obliges us. described in the celebrated pages of the second It is here. the rupture between this common sense then how can we understand if not its truth then its or this action itself and the ultimate reality of efficiency – how can we understand its hold on things. by adding the prism cognition which is already operative in our lives. so as to register as soon as shall discuss shortly. in effect. to both the needs manifests and carries to the limit. in order to study that what Bergson calls science is that mode of their conditions of possibility. amounts to the same thing and to efficiency. utilitarian solution. of these latter. rather. even. in and which Bergson calls ‘‘metaphysics’’. then. specifically measure- nevertheless to precision and prediction. which is a tion of space that guarantees for science the commencement of science’’ (Bergson. is that of space. in its relation to its objects. If. It is this representa- the tendency of common sense. It is through the disposition of its function: it does not seek to know objects for material objects in space. where science as such deceived: far from being founded in a common begins to pose a problem for Bergson. sense and a pragmatic action which would be the science is doubly relative. but in a representation of pure space which does not another sense it situates science within the bounds result from the experience of objects – specifically. from which possibility of our acting upon them. or whether it begins cognition which. as demonstrated in intelligence. knowledge. as described in passages which we us state right away. Knowledge is scientific only in so far the first chapter of Matter and Memory (1896). oriented towards action. and since mathe- tutes its unity is not merely its practical function matics affords a guarantee for action. Would scientificity an arithmetic or more profoundly still it not consist. characterises our species. Let our intelligence. its structure and its object. but without and which seems to distance us from the true being able to accept a purely pragmatic or reality of things in order to fulfil our bodily needs. but in order to serve our own bodies. indepen- sense. this it is above. which would seek to know things ‘‘in themselves. We must 41 . cleaves with effective scientific tasks. as Kant saw. that we return to the chapter of Creative Evolution? But we must not be problem discussed above. Whether science begins with possible the paradoxes involved in this definition. This fundamental thesis. science function and its spatial structure. Thus. then. but also its theoretical structure. of the entirety of our practical or psychological of their distance – nor from a logical construction. particular representation distinct from all others. that science would also that permits us to posit as norm and ideal of introduce a fundamental break in our life. the possibility of prediction. the Homo faber to measurement. accessible solely through another type of things? Bergson certainly seems to have exacer- thought.

or two a purely geometric physics). the product of life. effect that even in the case of the inert matter of and moreover will return.e. to the extent that science is spatial ing divergent tendencies of the activity of and mathematical. Whence our remark bearing on the status accorded by Bergson representation of space itself? What is the origin to Einstein’s theory of relativity. The Creative Mind (published in 1934) that The fourth chapter of this book demonstrates in Bergson will develop this argument most fully. which. In Matter and Memory (1896). put forward successively by Bergson in same structure as itself. according and to use it as a criterion for evaluating all of our to Bergson. and as confirmed by the radical theses of practical function and its spatial structure but also the Introduction to Metaphysics (1903). as an additional verification. the tour de force of Creative Evolution Bergson discusses this theory (Duration and (1907) is twofold: not only is our intelligence. return to these two points shortly. it is merely a relative and thought. alone capable of making a between number and the material object is no ‘‘mental synthesis’’ of them. Let us simply extended by science in this precise sense. is able add here. Already there longer founded solely upon a common spatial seems to be a division of objects or of the real structure. but only physics can be perfectly in duration. which is taken with reality itself. Written in the same year as the book in which tions. on the other Thus ‘‘Science’’ finds its unity not only in its hand. Simultaneity. We will how our perception and our spatial intelligence. (Oeuvres 1286) instrumental ‘‘symbolic’’ knowledge. to a remark the universe. critique and metaphysics distinguish here three different solutions to this produced by life to act on an object with the problem. foundation is not yet explicit. It can only gain access to reality by reuniting with It is this specificity of ‘‘Science. that metaphysics. but its metaphysical (or cosmological) genesis. external objects – as distinct from physics knows the very essence of the material states of consciousness situated in time or rather universe. the entire actual diversity of ‘‘the mathematics and physics. In Time and Free Will: Essay on the which latter Bergson tries to show is itself partly spatial and tends towards geometric extension. but upon a partitive metaphysical Downloaded By: [University of Sydney] At: 11:36 14 November 2010 into two types of cognition. however. spatial structure is but a veil or which we have cited above concerning the inevi- a purely imaginary guiding thread furnished by table necessity of a radical distinction between the our minds in order to master a reality which is two types of cognition: essentially temporal and inaccessible to calcula- tion and measurement (as demonstrated by Both [science and metaphysics] are concerned the phenomenon of change. thereby allowing Bergson 42 . But each grasps only a half of it. It is in the introduction to be baldly affirmed that science has no object. Immediate Givens of Consciousness (1889) even if it never passes entirely into it. as is demonstrated. being founded point. if we this time as a fundamental. with the result that we can treat them.’’ then. Creative Mind was not to be published until nent geometry. sciences’’ beyond the twofold limit represented by . but it is only twelve years later. then. But this does not help us understand any better mathematics and physics respectively. is applicable to everything that is is at once founded and limited: mathematical spatial – i. but as distinct also from movement mathematical and only matter can be com- or change. is less in things than pletely an object of science. the accord between science and its object on space. it can in its material object.. The accord in our consciousness. in a sense. of geometry? With regard to these two ques. . one last to exert a grip on the universe. by the great innovations of modern knowledge. namely the inert matter his first three books: of the universe in so far as it is opposed to life. At this Bergson argues that science. 1922). the introduction to The with its representation of space and its imma. definitive obstacle to wish. as two subdivisions of science. with its immediate access to allows Bergson both to oppose it to metaphysics temporal reality. . perhaps indicat- stood. This being under- departments of metaphysics.

It is real. and the point of their possible unity. However. . singularly characteristic of this ‘‘moment’’ of the mathematical compatibility of perspectives philosophy ‘‘in France. temporal consciousnesses – or more simply. cally. according to Bergson. accord- point of view of the observer (or more precisely ing to Bergson).’’ (Oeuvres 1283). If.’’ (Oeuvres 1280). as a collection of ‘‘absolute the conclusions of this discussion. that which includes math- ‘‘imaginary’’ science. consciousness and duration) in order experiment. we may add. Einstein’s Bergson. there must be a fixed point of view and an view in order to take account of the universe as a observer (bringing along with him. which lies at the origin of the theory for there to be a ‘‘real. knowledge. given in experience: that is real which effective perception.’’ then the universe of of relativity. But only at the price of an additional say uninhabitable. itself rendered necessary by point. the physicist is obliged to re-establish theory of relativity does not bear on the real. illusory if one thinks. in evident here more than ever. Inversely. which describes their equiva. Bergson adds: ‘‘the universe of individual points of view. whose mixed character is is observed or observable’’ (Oeuvres 37): now. worms (if this hadn’t been the very reason for the delay in over (in the same two phrases of which we have publication) to add a note which would return to only cited one). necessitates a detour via mathe- Einstein. but only the universe falling back once more into the idea of an of geometric relations. incapable of achieving ematically. according to system of relations.’’ the word ‘‘real’’: What allows us to pass from one of the two senses . insists Bergson. of ‘‘real’’ to the other is therefore observation or or can be. How are we to under. Einstein thus obliges the Relativity is a universe as real. done. one leaves the universe of relativity. . which neutralises the relativity of matical transformations in order to render com- points of view. without absorbing them metaphysi- any access to the real. and which rendered the Newtonian Bergson therefore seems to abandon what had universe obsolete) does not describe a real been the principal difficulty in his book on universe. same year of 1922. But then surely one would seem to be longer directly matter itself. to whose work is real in the sense that the system of equiva. twice issue still relevant today. patible points of view which. as Einstein (and the controversy that had immedi- soon as one reintroduces a real consciousness or ately surrounded it). according to Bergson at any reduction of the object of physics which is no rate. . ‘‘We most often call by this name that which is. But inversely. The universe is no more than relation between science and philosophy that is the absolute relation between the points of view. namely the contestation of observer. . as absolutely existent as that of additional step that once again brings into play Newton and as the common universe of the distinction between science and the rest of our men . in this relations’’ (emphasised in the original text) or as note we find an opposition between two senses of ‘‘a collection of relations. though? Real if one thinks that this certain experiences contradictory to our own confrontation offers us an example of an urgent point of view. observer is obliged to neutralise his own point of Downloaded By: [University of Sydney] At: 11:36 14 November 2010 then. including the point of view of time and would each have absolute scope. a sort of high point in the cally independent. movement (which had not previously been In this crucial note in The Creative Mind. an absolute point of view as soon as he In fact its essence is to ‘‘seek a mathematical re-establishes an effective perception or observa- representation of things independent of the tion (which Newtonian physics still does. stand this? Here. as independent philosopher of Creative Evolution to take an of our mind. lences. ‘‘real’’ means to say precisely: It is possible to see in this confrontation ‘‘independent of our mind. Thus the Michelson–Morley Bergson.’’ A real or illusory high and movements. 43 . that is to time.’’ Einstein’s universe between Bergson and Einstein. taken separately. multiple times to the profit of a unique universal Einstein’s universe is therefore irreal. Brunschvicg would also dedicate himself in that lence between the points of view is mathemati. according to Bergson. the of a system of reference) . Now. . According to this first sense.

2 We will not phy. to possibility. before begin to be properly posed. Now. to unravel in the Pathological:3 ‘‘philosophy is the science of a critical manner the exercise of these procedures resolved problems’’ (L’Idéalisme contemporain 8). Let us say immediately that our destiny but with the reality of the universe. subject must confront sensible givens in the very brings us face to face not only with ourselves and act of perception. meanwhile. for the Brunschvicg of problems in science unless the scientist is made 1922. The task which must be (1905) (L’Idéalisme contemporain 8). In effect. beginning with the study of practically effective What are we to understand by this? science. Certainly. there can be no We understand now why. in cognition. in understanding that a specific act (different in the case of the it as the true history of humanity in a certain sense. for Brunschvicg it is not even a directly address this issue here. in Brunschvicg. the problem of science by the scientist.’’4 it is important to show that our percep- and to the physical universe in its entirety. Brunschvicg draws a paradoxical definition already supposing the rupture of perception and of philosophy from this initial thesis. In fact. the term ‘‘science’’ One would be mistaken. that it is simply a culmination of in a necessarily progressive but always unfin- certain illegitimate pretensions which need to be ished manner. this immanent study is the sole means of knowing the activities of the analysis. of seeking its subjective conditions of Brunschvicg’s thought on this same question. and the break which it supposes seems to process in relation to experience. except through its own exercise. its objects. to content does not designate for Brunschvicg every type of oneself with placing science. One cannot study science. tion itself supposes a specific act. for philoso- philosophy in its relation to science. extends this rupture Canguilhem will even judge ‘‘simple and pro.’’ ‘‘making it his own’’ in The Normal and internal procedures of intelligibility. the purpose of this reflection on science science in brunschvicg (or of this ‘‘epistemology’’) being to furnish less Downloaded By: [University of Sydney] At: 11:36 14 November 2010 a sum of objective cognitions of the world than a ‘‘The problem of perception is resolved by the series of discoveries and propositions concerning child. because this rupture and this practice and of science) seems to mask the problem constitutively demand an always-unfinished itself. in norms of intelligibility proper to the activity order to prove the very existence of a ‘‘life of the of the mind and applies them to its objects. child and that of the scientist) was necessary in to use it as a gauge of philosophical significance. the ancestor of the ‘‘intellec. and problem (in the two differing cases of perception finally. So does undertaken here is at least threefold: to demon- that leave anything for the philosopher to do? strate through a reflexive analysis how science.’’ the characteristic acts of our thought. here once again. one which within it the act of judgement. critique and history of our mind. which it falls wrote Brunschvicg in Contemporary Idealism to philosophy to extricate. in briefly retracing the journey of science. On the other hand. one is obliged mask the fact that there is or was a problem and to follow this entire history and. and deepens it by discovering the norms and found. the scientific outline the problem on the basis of which it can endeavour. We will simply Kantian question. as Sokal and Bricmont have tried to We can then understand at once why ‘‘the argue in making Bergson. if one understands by this only direct continuity with perception. in their celebrated and problem of science is resolved by the scientist’’ controversial book. and what task or tual impostures’’ of a certain strain of French variety of tasks remains. therefore. critiqued. critique and metaphysics on the contrary. which is itself the relation between a subject and an object. in deliberately accentuating the rupture his cognition. by formulating a philosophy in which Precisely that the very solution of the science remains the privileged touchstone. mind. Einstein is at the apex of this movement to confront the real by the internal exigencies of which. which cannot be 44 . in the same way as the perceiving with a falsely immediate knowledge of the world. severed by the act of judgement from the sensible but that type of cognition that manifests the givens of our immediate experience. order to resolve it. before the objective fact of attempt. and can only be resolved by him. however.

’’ an act the external universe in terms of the internal irreducible to sensation.’’ and thus supposes an independent through its elements. the act becoming the conditions for a reappropriation of through which our mind says ‘‘that is. and on and this particularly against Bergson’s contem- the other hand the filling of the empty frames of porary philosophical enterprise – opt resolutely intelligibility which manifest the internal force for critique. cannot be pursued except through the effective and never just an isolated object. according to activity. content of science on the same plane: experi- an affirmation of being: beyond these two funda. ‘‘abstract mathematics’’ but also to its operations according to Brunschvicg. Reflexive analysis. facts and theories: it mental characteristics. then – of an ungraspable shock in itself [. in itself universal. It is in this vein that he writes: of thought. (Ibid. my emphasis) 45 . in the first phase of his de l’esprit 61). we see in the texts of Contemporary Brunschvicg had already maintained this same. the reconstitution of the whole ‘‘concepts. cannot be reduced to a simple association no longer a given needing to be determined but of images and sensations. the affirmation. judgement is not solely a putting into the natural temptation to place the whole relation. where experience is analysis. all Ultimately. to a sort of autonomous formalisa- this activity of judgement in perception itself is tion. . and neither is it only. is therefore seen to coincide affirmation. One must. This bility of knowledge. a ‘‘mind. but which recombines them in order to and the synthesis. and why Brunschvicg in a verification to be arrived at. which leads not only to the operations of not only the product or the relation: it is. whilst also permitting their double But [the mind] has a different aim in science to critique in the name of their own principles. that which it has in perception. armed with such a criterion. this is still not enough. for us. . and consequently already to virtually implicate the whole universe. above all. can even be said here with analysis tout court. work. in a word. the life of the mind comprises two that remains to metaphysics is the domain of the tendencies in opposite directions: the attempt hypothetical and the unverifiable’’ (Brunschvicg. It is internal to science: it puts the scientist on guard against In fact. where unity is no the same Introduction to the Life of the Mind. human knowledge. of an object and of a world. adapting the real progressively. (Ibid.]. but a reflection on the (La Modalité du jugement 170) quality of that knowledge. the decomposition of a whole constitute new unities. it is also constituted by renders them more scrupulous in scrutinising a double procedure of analysis and of synthesis sources and in measuring the exact import of which gives it its proper criteria of validity and their affirmations. ‘‘fixed centres. 62) In effect. and which is the primitive norms of truth. by definition. More precisely still. Firstly. which again condition not only of the relation but of the very takes up the subjective conditions of the possi- existence.’’ Furthermore. the analysis images. the universe of exterior It is not an attempt to add to the quantity of perception and the universe of science.’’ into elements. ments and postulates. constitute science?. a programme for a philosophy that would at However. is susceptible. Idealism the task that Brunschvicg assigns to apparently paradoxical. according to such an reconstruction of the universe. . constructing. as once complete the movement of a certain philo- Brunschvicg immediately remarks: sophical tradition and that of the development of the sciences.. longer an isolated object but the very system of all having already asked: ‘‘How does the mind relations. what is proper to Brunschvicg. . We can then study of the work of science in its progressive Downloaded By: [University of Sydney] At: 11:36 14 November 2010 understand why perception. worms reduced to a simple association of different even of truth. ‘‘science The Modality of Judgement: [having]. for Brunschvicg. aggregated to itself all positive theses and experimental verification.’’ (Introduction à la vie Brunschvicg can outline.’’ can respond: ‘‘it takes up We can see how. the work of perception . position – even more philosophy (and the critique that he is able to strongly in fact – at the centre of his thesis on address to certain prior efforts). to fix that which is given first of all in the form L’Idéalisme contemporain 2).

reproaching Aristotle for remaining one realises that the apex of this work is at the stage of perception and infancy with a constituted by the book entitled Human substantialist logic. sions of the imagination and those of perception then.’’ and a intelligibility). which the mind does not contribute anything One might be surprised. it ultimately surmounts the false immediacy of and thereby surpass the framework of ‘‘intuitive the experience called ‘‘sensible. It is towards science itself that relation established through us (‘‘causality’’). and even accusing Kant of Experience and Physical Causality. explicate acts of the mind that conform strictly But since science. as it is also the history of thought. of following displacement. in this book and in the résumé humaine et la causalité physique VI).’’ is that the representations’’ whilst still retaining a ‘‘hold on physicist no longer has direct access. which appeared in his very distinct parts.’’ that is to say. to space of ‘‘imaginary numbers’’ or ‘‘systems of metrical and to time. represents to his eyes a mixtures. The three following parts study ‘‘the intellectual Philosophie. Écrits philosophiques III. L’Éxperience shows precisely. which are subject to in virtue of which. has as its primary goal the unified experimental verification. as ‘‘absolute experience’’ or of Brunschvicg’s philosophical work finally ‘‘pure experience. along with an effort (where. it is this unity which explains that. according to the complex construction of this work in six Brunschvicg’s reading. organisation of experience’’ – that is. like perception. which modern mathematicians would come We can distinguish three overall arguments in Downloaded By: [University of Sydney] At: 11:36 14 November 2010 to contest (in fact. it seems that Bergson 1912 with the book entitled The Stages of is being critiqued) ‘‘to base ourselves in the Mathematical Philosophy. these being an ‘‘experience’’ which perfect fidelity to this immanent exigence of encounters things.’’ which would explain the formation overarching position. taking geometry different from the Euclidean system’’ account of his own position and his own (Ibid. programme. however. knowledge of the universe in its entirety. and that studied by ethnographers. then. how ‘‘at the basis of mathematics. But Brunschvicg things themselves’’ (Brunschvicg. which sets out to compare two first published work. critique and metaphysics Thus the task that Brunschvicg assigns himself is internally the developments of these practices and no less critical for its being immanent to science. resisting both the illu. Brunschvicg. according to Brunschvicg. say a few words about this presupposing pure forms of intuition. to the universe. 72). the history of physics in so far and reason’’ (The Idea of Mathematical Truth. ‘‘the acts of exchange’’ or ‘‘drawing’’ effect what Einstein’s theory supposes. from an experience. has a ‘‘physical’’ scope: ‘‘intellectualist’’ critique. We must. It is the 1912. Biran and Mill. published in having betrayed the pure acts of judgement by 1922. time. in a method oriented towards In philosophy. explicitly studied in the has no object. of it that he presented to the Société Française de . In practices. in order to measure the . one must turn the weapons of ‘‘idealist’’ or which. but remains ‘‘human. their internal norms. experience to culminates. but must reconstruct it. then. despite the diversity of sciences Brunschvicg assigns himself a strict critical one is justified in speaking of ‘‘Science’’ in general. in a very there is a certain correlation between experience particular sense. not being able to presuppose 46 . central movement of the work that culminates Arithmetic and geometry derive from elementary in the study of Einstein’s theory of relativity. albeit in an both with his ideal of intelligibility and with opposite way. Brunschvicg begins in the first which they can be integrated: such is the aim of part with a challenge to the empiricist concep- the historical detour wherein the central phase tion of experience. space and book. Once again it is not only in philosophy that to Brunschvicg. according itself. Following the programme outlined in the inevitable gap between its internal norms and the collection of facts or the image of the universe into introduction. since. only Spinoza. It is a question. rules and inventions that give rise to verification. beyond works where he seems to affirm that mathematics Hume. having read the early of itself. 71). that the historical work begins in first part of the book. as in science. what is required is to future innovations.

if science further still. and then in the studies which would follow. his reflection which will be intensified later on. ‘‘the essential relativity of mind and of nature’’ thereby no doubt bringing out their divergences (ibid. those to our perception. a universal clock. This opposition seems to go a new problem when he affirms that. perception and our immediate experience.5 Brunschvicg can elaborate his own major preoccupations. which opposed senses not only this initial opposition but become on the contrary relative coordinates. ‘‘reveals’’ a humanised ‘‘nature’’ which knows and thus anything other than that which ensures nothing of an in-itself. After having studied these two conceptions of . a science of the universe that each of them ants which assure us that our relative point of nevertheless tries to keep in contact with our view on space and time. but by constants and invari. by the radical. stakes. From here. distinctions that it becomes necessary to make.). confirmed experimentally. but interpreting in profoundly of absolute or intuitive space and time. science in themselves. together with its ‘‘other.’’ it also exists in order to act. 391) 1927). that from the third of the important living in an actuality which is ceaselessly driven books that attempt to retrace this history (The and displaced by the mobile course of time. universe. an additional detour through but also upon the interpretation of its very abstraction is necessary in order to permit us to meaning and hence on the place of science surpass the so-called intermediary abstraction of within the whole of our experience. in constructed locally. to the universe.’’ we must firstly ask what It comes as no surprise that he concludes with their bases and philosophical consequences are. one which merely understands the relation between his obliges Brunschvicg to undertake a moral position of measurement of the world. singular clock and all the others: but which amounts at this moment simply to writing that: ‘‘the progress of knowledge We are not transcendent observers in relation involves a progress of nature’’ (ibid. as it intersects with Bergson’s. worms anything other than his capacity to measure. also its theoretical and historical development. Or again. Brunschvicg had had to reflect not only upon the tants of a clock’’ (Ibid. will return paradoxically to the concrete site of our real allow us to go further. he indicates more fully. 587). Downloaded By: [University of Sydney] At: 11:36 14 November 2010 (Ibid. It is with the cosmotheoros or spectator of the world – which regard to this second aspect that a re-examination Merleau-Ponty would also denounce – and to of his work. If ‘‘Science’’ in Bergson theory of causality by returning firstly to the and Brunschvicg is seen in its antagonistic pairing link between perception and judgement. On the other hand. we are not ‘‘clockmakers’’ but ‘‘inhabi. ence’’ (Ibid. We have already been struck. legacies exist at the meeting-point of theory and experi- We cannot. it seems that we must which were particularly closely read by Merleau. Progress of Consciousness in Western Philosophy. As to the unity and objectivity of the way in which each poses the problem of science. briefly review their presuppositions and their Ponty. even as far as moral and political 47 . We see. thereby is also compatible with the unity of the collective preserving the unity of experience even across the entirety of the universe described by the physicist. however. we are occupants of space. 396). 590). then. perception. upon the speed of light. The physicist can no longer nature and for practical concrete effects. they are not threatened: but they are no opposing it to our immediate knowledge and even longer guaranteed by completed structures. ‘‘the fundamental invariants upon which relativistic physics rests ii obstacles. obstacles that science encounters in this history Consequently. with a coefficient of relativity-become. construct from scratch an instrument to Technical progress is a paradoxical and ambig- measure the world. let things rest there. in any case. in the two last parts of the book. and if it thereby enables a the correspondence between different points of knowledge of self which ‘‘is of more value than view and measure. namely invariants such as science itself. he uous sign of a double progress. As Brunschvicg says later on.

Nothing. that is to say to space. beginning in those condition of succession. This is the initial surprise that in both thinkers flows directly from the problem of Bergson recounts as having been the origin of the science. a true metaphysical value. Ultimately. But the reality of duration is not of a merely as it passes. in Matter and Memory and the 48 . 1255)). themselves also opposed. and which thus defines not a relative Here we can once more consider the elements form of cognisance of the self but an ultimate studied above. these two metaphysical knowing which seizes it as properly metaphysical and moral viewpoints seem at the same time to be knowing. the immediate and sensible conscious- firstly a fact that seems to escape its principal ness that one has as soon as one seizes this condition. we sense it and we live it’’ (Oeuvres (4/ the combination of their philosophical projects. duration. first Brunschvicg denounces in that which opposes the of all. Duration is not only ‘‘that which these two doctrines which. but in reverse order. the regression to a dangerous barbarism which which in fact defines Bergson: types of reality. or whether on the contrary it might this succession and this conservation. which it is difficult to conceive of and to Bergson’s double legacy. Just as every representation in space. at least a part of being and hence the Heidegger)! Nevertheless. and then modes of knowing. and of its nature: duration is not only. It is not just the metaphysics of duration whole of his philosophical thought: ‘‘we were very but also moral intuition and creation which much struck by having seen how real time [. characterised by this time or this real progress of science and civilisation. in the midst of the puts a spanner in the works’’ (Oeuvres (214/676)). we can distinguish three steps predicated upon some common presuppositions. reality beyond which there is nothing more to be In effect. duration. Here also. and to intelligence (as obstacle to the ever-reprised Cartesian dream of though in a strange and misheard French echo of mathesis universalis: it is also that which the positions. this is primarily because asked whether the opposition between science and we have a direct and immediate experience of its other in these doctrines is so simple and so radical itself. and moreover of the same years of the 1930s. The contradiction between science and metaphysics. characteristic of psychological and interior order. which defines time in so far . the abstract frame of succession and its cognition. torment of the 1930s. critique and metaphysics consequences and the philosophy of history. in time. adopted positively defines. between succession. Let us gradually falling asleep or active hesitation. what Bergson opposes to science is sought. therefore briefly return to these different points. or rather Therefore there seems to be. or at least that cannot be submitted to it duration for itself. But this not only the return to a superficial realism but also first discovery gives way to a double expansion. a radical term-for-term opposition without being denatured. it must be conservation of time. .] Bergson opposes to science and technique. could be more incompatible than accessing them. capable of apparently. If duration is for us not the mere logical critique. at the same time. in the journey of this thought: which laid these doctrines open to the same . if not all being and the whole Downloaded By: [University of Sydney] At: 11:36 14 November 2010 at the same moment in Germany by Husserl and of being. namely time. the proof of the reality of duration. for us. without contradiction. duration. according lead to a diversity of approaches and of problems to Bergson: ‘‘this duration which science elimi- which would explicate Brunschvicg’s and nates. that is to say to philosophy of the spirit be. Bergson’s first book therefore makes of at least specifically with regard to their relation to this immediate experience of succession. appeal respectively to a that which according to Bergson presents an resort to the mystical. which is incapable of being submitted along with the opposition between space and to number or measurement. sometimes radical. if not with regard to express. it is escapes mathematics’’ (Oeuvres (2/1254)). but is the the metaphysics of duration and the act which allows us to endure. and simultaneity. which insurmountable. . appears to him to be Bergson. science or to the relation between philosophy and attested to by insensible changes such as science which defines and opposes them.

is attested to by certain acts irreducible to But these spontaneous tendencies of our indi- mechanical effects – and this in various degrees. dogmatism’’ at the heart of his metaphysics of But before speaking of this let us say something duration: instead of proceeding via a reflection on about that which. and which We can now appreciate how. comes to with. according to Bergson.’’ It is experience. is firstly an inevitable tendency of our the same task) would have access to a moving imagination. succession It is.’’ the reality of which experience. worms Introduction to Metaphysics. conditions of our animal life. do indeed open the way to a able growth of the universe. that we find this . he finds an ally in criticising upon which in fact all of his philosophy is founded. Introduction creation which. and claims to extend it through- Where all hope of a metaphysics of nature is out the entire domain of nature. one Bergson. whereas the science of What is opposed term-for-term to science. there appears the freedom character- fore use Bergson. even giving to science as treated therein our experience as an encounter with an absolute Downloaded By: [University of Sydney] At: 11:36 14 November 2010 an intuitive and absolute status. Thus. in its opposition to a metaphysics of nature and the intuition which has access to it. Brunschvicg denounces the double 49 . the intuition of duration an encounter with an absolute reality. ‘‘metaphysical hope’’ which is the true theoretical adversary of scientific research. vidual and social ego. he also does work. or rather what he calls in his first reality of matter attested to by our very book ‘‘spontaneous and vulgar dogmatism. in a certain sense. distinction between space and time. matter only has access to objects or images according to Brunschvicg. according to Brunschvicg. which cannot be resists – albeit in a totally different sense – the reduced to any other thing. against istic of a philosophy of the spirit. We must there- removed. beginning from the Brunschvicg will never hesitate to denounce. But he fact suppose conjointly the two dimensions which also reproaches him for reviving this ‘‘spontaneous he comes to oppose to each other. Bergson can arrive at a general at once relates him to and separates him from distinction between science and metaphysics. science as a collection real. (Brunschvicg. through the irreducible phenomena indeed in our imagination. in denouncing the applications – precisely those problems which in spontaneous realism of our imagination. that which and simultaneity. let us say in passing. but at the same time arranged in space for the convenience of our reveals by contrast its true philosophical signifi- action. to the such as Bergson’s! totality of the real. if from Creative Evolution spontaneous tendency to represent the real as a onwards space comes to define matter posi. Such is one of the last phrases of Brunschvicg’s draw every real object from science. the primitive acts of our mind. metaphysics (or a science which takes on cance. Héritage de mots. one that could well stand as a résumé of the the reverse. and in the necessary of change and movement. that part which seems always to be of empirical findings or a scholastic classification irreducible to the first according to Bergson rather than as the rational unification of this very and which he calls ‘‘mind. including those which are predicated upon an impact upon the orientation of practical the form of duration. A great lesson for which we are indebted to the himself. tively. Nevertheless. our practical tendencies to think a static universe including its moral import and its concrete of objects as an absolute reality.6 life. which demand ‘‘a renewed from the free act of a consciousness to the act of effort of reflection’’ (Brunschvicg. extending the domain of duration whole. moreover. Bergson still seeks in work of science. collection of things and not as a tissue of relations. overcome them. manifests à la vie de l’esprit 11) each time in order to the evolution of species and even the undefin. mobilising the ‘‘interior life of intuition’’ developments of contemporary science and against every metaphysical representation of the one whose reverberations cannot fail to have real. héritage In the conclusion of his thesis on The Modality d’idées 32) of Judgement. duration can no exteriority and not as an always-incomplete longer define anything but a small part of the construction of our mind. In Bergson.

’’ as is matter – perhaps more surprisingly – of interpret- the case in Hegel. the two metaphysical This is also the reason why. aesthetic life. It is certainly not a matter of completing science through to a metaphysics of life and every with a metaphysics that claims to accede directly ‘‘ontology’’ in general. between Bergson and Brunschvicg. This being understood. with regard to the a reflection which nevertheless does not suggest moral. or even two antagonis- internal’’ (Brunschvicg. it would general argument. and ‘‘religious life’’ which. critique and metaphysics form which this ‘‘metaphysics’’ that translates the notion of absolute unity’’ (Brunschvicg. very truth of our life. if more fleetingly. to a certain interpretation of is deployed in other domains. on this cance that surpasses it. or in the acts which make and in it the emergence of purely intellectual it possible. was to appear more fully and always incomplete acts of our mind. La Modalité du jugement tic religions. Introduction à la vie de l’esprit III). notably human Platonism. it is a law successive moments of intellectual life. existence of ideas transcending the dialectic act. the foundation for a morality or acts. according to this metaphysics. ‘‘has as its unique content the rupture with the rest of our experience and 50 . If there were still a point of commonality.’’ within science itself. the philosophies of Bergson and tendency indicated by science: to every claim to Brunschvicg were able to incarnate two faces of seize being in itself in the form of an object or a the same ‘‘spiritualism. Nothing could be clearer in this doubtless consist in their having pushed the regard than the pedagogical stance of the ‘‘moral problem’’ of science to the limits. 233). elsewhere. in a way Bergson – the idea of a temporal experience that that unites mind with the universe but also with would precede acts of judgement.’’ The same contrast in subject. which would attempt to pose the relations. despite their tendencies are then indeed opposed to the unique divergences. but on the contrary the of science. Brunschvicg nonetheless inscribes science within a philosophical signifi. In fact. science their responses. spontaneous tendencies of our mind into philoso. which not a question merely of knowing what moral envisages a description in the Fichtean manner value to attribute to science as a function of a of ‘‘the continuous progress which takes place in moral scale established elsewhere. but also the same paradoxical must oppose the reflection on the at once universal proximity of questioning. But it is also not of the subject’’ is not limited to dogmatic theses on merely a case of contenting oneself with critiquing the existence of the soul: it includes.’’ science. to every claim to accede to being. and hence within a more plane. moral life. Likewise. This claims to have access to a reality anterior to the latter is subtended by an intellectual activity which act of judgement. The ‘‘metaphysics of the object’’ might Brunschvicg’s philosophy cannot therefore be take various forms: from an empiricism that limited to an internal analysis of science. even if this is indeed the first task Downloaded By: [University of Sydney] At: 11:36 14 November 2010 judgements which would reunite ‘‘by an internal which Brunschvicg assigns himself. but also – once more against ing the ‘‘spiritual’’ significance of science. whereas ‘‘the itself and with the principle of its activity. For him. Between the phy might take. but the reflection that does not pass with the course of time criterion by which we can make a distinction and is posed by itself under the category of the between two philosophies. on the contrary. in opposing himself in this way to every science between two moralities metaphysical pretension. in its unceasingly renewed Brunschvicg. political and historical issue of the problem a limit to our cognition. according to a possible sense for history. and possesses its own absolute ends. by presenting an obstacle to the two can be found the three intermediate stages reflexive effort best (but not only) exemplified by of ‘‘scientific life. In science’s very Brunschvicg.’’ ‘‘The two it is a question of knowing whether one can find extreme terms’’ are marked by ‘‘conscious life. and spontaneous consciousness of life which flows which would thus make of science not the contrary across the moments of time implies a centre of of philosophy nor even of religion. the idea of an ultimate synthesis of pretensions. the ‘‘metaphysics to one or another part of being. It is Introduction to the Life of the Mind. the interior of the thinking being.

it only knows in order to act. liberatory. by its purely organic mode of action of other species practical and technical aims.’’7 action and our knowledge. it certainly is. the conclusion a question for Bergson of condemning science reached straightforwardly in The Two Sources of and technique. Despite the intelligent and liberal forms grand men. humanity: it henceforth requires a ‘‘supplement of minism is only bound to the conditions of our soul. like one or the other of the ‘‘two’’ moralities. is opposed not action – founded. on the other hand. that the at the exclusive service of closed morality. or not? There is a sense On the other hand. morality. to the two principles of a and our history. as we have seen. science and its progress the norm for our action at their vital origin. whilst virtually that which depends on individual and unpredict. Bergson will finally insist on of our bodies. does science or does it not contain translate vital obligations and therefore turn a norm for our conduct. in the structure of the human this point in the last chapter of his last book. If response to its address. and its more to one moral position than to another: knowledge is in a certain sense first of all a power. on the contrary. just as much through the logic of mathematics. social obligations can but effects. by its vital and by envisaging a deliverance from servitude by utilitarian function. certainly linking science to envisaged science up to that point as a purely life. then. Indeed. In this book. for Bergson. and The Two former. then. But if this 1930s. and both being described by Bergson as technologies no less capable of delivering man inescapable facts. for Bergson science is determined permitting man to detach himself from the Downloaded By: [University of Sydney] At: 11:36 14 November 2010 through and through. that it leaves a place for freedom his own doctrine as through the events of the in every degree of being or of duration. a meaning for our history. Scientific able duration. on the object. morally neutral. then risk that it cannot resist pushing to its limit the neither of the two seems able to provide us with a warrior instinct of closed morality. with space and matter. science. it is never. from hunger and alleviating his labour. on our ‘‘intelligence’’ or our reason – but Humanity’s science and technique. but also giving it structure and an autonomous theoretical or disinterested activity. at the centre of their confrontation towards all mankind which founds an open with the most contemporary events. It is precisely because scientific deter. to space and to This is why. However. like duration. It has its origin in the needs means of machines. certain men feel an obligation might seem. If it is not One might well anticipate. is not at all Sources of Morality and Religion. mysticism. which find their echo in all fundamentally different direction. but by seeking this latter in a universal obligation. and already contrary. the moral problem. and are both capable of orienting its intuition become henceforth the privilege of a few history. Bergson seems to suggest a recourse to seems to imply a critique of science. alone capable of counterbalancing the It is not until 1932. in fact. in returning to the creative in which both authors’ point of departure obliges principle of life. throughout its technical and social which they take. according to a celebrated science also escapes determinism and recovers and ambiguous formula. not against the ‘‘mechanical’’ but as a theless no longer a properly moral evaluation. can also exacerbate servitude. a metaphysical of humanity. not only by refusing to see in the two dimensions of our action lead in some way. which in escaping the conditions of ‘‘progress’’ can only. and which philosophy is therefore 51 . even unto norm capable of surpassing practical utility or the extermination of the enemy and the destruction individual freedom. a Morality and Religion with regard to the question of separating the scientific problem from Bergsonian philosophy of science. both being necessary for our of the planet – and even if this is made possible by life. enlarge ‘‘the body’’ of freedom. worms practice. It is problem becomes clearly formulated in here that the argument of Creative Evolution takes Bergson’s work. and to counterbalance the space. serve To this. and in passing outside the limits them to pose such questions. science. it can. is bound to action. species and the conditions of its action and its Incapable of founding action. science cleaves no matter. does its progress hold within the closed circle of the human species. as sweeping as they of the species. This is not because he had on its fullest import.

A formula which never fails to does seem to go in the opposite direction to appear as a tragic paradox in the testing time of war. thereby helping. the power. Perhaps it is not either the appeared to be guaranteed. before the threat which the development Bergson’s. since for Bergson the mystical is Or again: opposed to the closed morality produced by a static sense of life – and thus continues the moral from 1926 to 1935 [between a text of Bréhier’s creation of humanity – but also the pretensions of and the time when Brunschvicg is writing]. valuable in principle for all human- from imaginative representation. tological formalism of pure deduction and the We can understand why critiques of Bergson in rigidity of a priori categories. and of the Downloaded By: [University of Sydney] At: 11:36 14 November 2010 role that science and technology had played in This paradox has a meaning for science itself. Brunschvicg’s evolution with Descartes. in so far as there is also. upon the collective history of 52 . the very source of real morality. has made contain. rationality. science never ceased to of technique. [. European continent. So that whilst Politzer imputed to Bergson a text on the ‘‘European spirit’’ which is not without hypocrisy capable of justifying social and religious evoking that great unfinished work of Husserl. ity. critique and metaphysics no longer sufficient to procure. the product of science. in the time of Plato. the space seemed to him to defeat. Maybe it is. to the point where the Brunschvicg’s thought. rendered and technique which had never been his. and them possible.’’ could simultaneously reproach efficacy of its practical power for the conduct of individuals and societies appeared ever more him for making a metaphysical analysis of the threatening. Nizan similarly reproached Brunschvicg Krisis: at the same time. up is a mysticism which claims to stem from the La Philosophie de Léon Brunschvicg 144) instincts of life. in progressively hollow out. science would therefore philosophers in the same refusal. a consistent demand for threat was felt of an evil utilisation of the progress unity: ‘‘the unity of speculation and of practice. as numerous passages more profound idea which is indeed a principle attest: of Brunschvicg’s thought. indirectly putting into alone capable of assuring the integrity of human question their intrinsic value. 165) in its aim of solidarity between men. But between this moral But we only find a sentiment of sadness. taking to task the tau- principle capable of compelling and obliging men. science and of philosophy to find in the autonomy the gap seems to have become more marked. confirming that this value does not consist in héritage d’idées 40). of historical unification of humanity. For him. was freed from the 1930s. . rather. through the act of judgement and through weigh heavy over the very existence of the its aim of unity. of Kant. even of goal and its realisation. moreover. We might even say that the more which is perhaps even equally responsible for the science progressed. (Ibid. but further consciousness. the distance closes between between this intellectual progress and the moral humanity taken at its speculative apex and reflection of a consciousness upon its own exis- the mass of men considered in their everyday tence and. . despite the divergence of their philosophies. In other words. the less the concomitance of risks which make this progress weigh so heavily this progress with a moral and historical progress upon humanity. of science and technique. the mode of access to a true regard to the moral problem posed by science spirituality. Héritage de mots. (Cited in Deschoux. and thereby consciousness’’ (Brunschvicg. (Ibid. 163) moral and political stakes of the epoch. more prop. although unjustly attributing to him a the prejudices of an abstract and sterile confusion capable of justifying political or totali. of intelligence or reason the basis for some The epoch when reason.8 be that which was. So what is opened life at the median level. of Meanwhile. according to Brunschvicg. here. to unite both delivered to its truth. the idea of an adequation erly spiritual. namely that this progress translates an interior progress of self- Because positive knowledge is uncovered every day that is not only more extended. what is their results or their effects so much as in the defeated is not a naı̈ve faith in scientific progress source that.] is also the epoch where the tarian ‘‘mystics. in a them.

worms humanity. between ing to the question of science. whilst return. the problem of memory (the distinction out doubt the reasons for the shock which so between generic memory and individual memory). It is not only a factual problems that Bergson is led to distinguish but breach which opened up in the twentieth century also to link the scientific and philosophical between intellectual advances and moral progress: approaches. Ultimately. nor only in The two aspects that we will discuss here tend in the form of a critique of intelligence and of man effect to widen the radical distinction which these as Homo faber. the question of laughter. But both. throughout his whole two philosophers establish. it is in order to study the effective this factual breach perhaps only confirmed a history of discourses and knowledges that distance in principle between the different dimen.9 for example. suggested a return to it. Brunschvicg arrives at an analysis that discrimi- sions of consciousness’s relation to itself. and physics and pure metaphysics. partly reiterating the ical stakes. only be struck by the proximity of accent or tone this distinction has a methodological dimension of the texts written by Brunschvicg and Bergson which characterises two relations between philo- in the 1930s. beyond the metaphysical and moral stakes. in opposing senses. Despite their divergences. trace back. whilst remaining within its metaphys- stand why Merleau-Ponty. it is the double sense that grasps our between science and metaphysics. and within idea of a ‘‘spirit’’ in the work of science or beyond it two senses of ‘‘life. the very distinction between science type of political critiques of Bergson and and pure metaphysics discussed above. because conditions to our action and our knowledge. had to concrete knowledge. or of the brain. brutally affected the two doctrines at the time of the question of the evolution of species. we can Thus. and become central to the study of Bergson. Thus which were addressed to them. the central place of biology. through surprise (to gloss somewhat) by the disjunction profound modifications. and that of the Second World War. saw in the events of their times a conflict of the study of precise scientific and philosophical the ‘‘spiritual’’ order which. as generic life. the former was taken by sophy and science. life from the interior. to which we can add. founded respec- before returning to their doctrines themselves in tively on space and duration. which take on a mixed status par excellence. make a brief the two extremes it is indeed our lives themselves attempt to go a little further. far from damning the problems. Between Brunschvicg made by Politzer or Nizan. creating an apparently the structure of society. analysis. could implicitly but unfolds in admixtures which are studied by conjointly reproach both philosophers. published in 1943. But perhaps we must nevertheless. Bergson’s concrete efforts should be opposition a third order wherein the great mysti. and to prove fruitful. On this level. case. these are with. even Nabert. This being understood. But this distinc. nates between the two tendencies of our minds. our experience the course of his work. We can thus under. in any deserves mention: the classification of sciences. about their Bergson successively studied the status of psycho- treatment of science for example. various essays. Downloaded By: [University of Sydney] At: 11:36 14 November 2010 and by what this implied for the very idea of Thus. of dreams. in either case. in order to complete what has been said humanity. Certainly. with having tion between the two pure elements which are held up the idea of a pure consciousness escaping mixed in their object in order to obviate the the world and history. whereas the latter added to this above. in irreducible break with those that were to follow. It is in order to treat precise distance himself somewhat. each of which cism would come to intervene. to make their effects felt between Einstein’s proofs and Hitler’s seductions. however. philosophy. which have not ceased. 53 .’’ to which we may finally it. studied under three aspects. dictating its tion only has any meaning.’’ as between science and philosophy a degree of creation and of duration. Beyond the objections confusions which give rise to false problems. constrained to make the distinc- War Has Taken Place. taking his the two terms so distinguished are initially the reflexive method from Brunschvicg in his object of a mixture in our experience or our Elements for an Ethics. in The specific sciences. not only under the form of a metaphysics of ‘‘élan vital.

with philosophy consists.’’ a radical break between science and literature. mantle of an unconscious philosophy of them. on the opposing science and metaphysics than one of other. ed. 1998). then at least a certain scientific theories. Mind ^ a note added. in a critical episte. the works of Bergson and 1903. to the each other – a relation which in its density defines study of specific sciences in their progressive a specific philosophical moment – but also to the unification and the elaboration of their proper centre of a relation between science and philoso- concepts. Reproduced double work again displays Brunschvicg’s critical here with permission. in case necessitates a radical conceptual and philoso. maintain throughout his work. to study. whether or not based upon the very reality of thought): these would be. and which still experience. 1 ‘‘Introduction to Metaphysics’’ in The Creative gical work. To the abstract idea of a classification of phy which cannot be collapsed sciences. on the one Intellectuals’ Abuse of Science (New York: Picador. the idea of a unity of science. through of each of their doctrines and of their relation to a failure that is in some sense inevitable. Brunschvicg’s work. the possible continuations of Bergson’s and Just as for Bergson there is no purely metaphys. the risks that threaten this thought from verifying in our experience itself an irreducible within with being frozen into a dogmatism or an distinction that resists one unique mode of ideology (without meanwhile ceasing to see in it knowing. The work of Bergson and Brunschvicg themselves. despite taking an open question. distinction – adjoined to his properly epistemolo. may not push to their respective Downloaded By: [University of Sydney] At: 11:36 14 November 2010 domains of our experience. and which. whose (Paris: Gallimard. in the real itself or in our 1998) ^ translator’s note] mentions Bergson in its 54 . or the project of a critical study of science. whom of course the differences are on the mology studying the constitution of concepts and contrary irreducible. critique and metaphysics and as individual history. at the time this work Thus. except in the extreme cases of the progress the historical constitution of knowledges like of analysis and of the unity brought by it to certain Foucault’s. the endeavours of scientific thought (but In which case it is less a question of definitively without ceasing to confront it). Bachelard or Canguilhem on the other. then. for phy and the functions of science which one finds Brunschvicg there is essentially no perfectly pure in Deleuze. philosophers can thus lead us not only to the heart fundamental for Brunschvicg. in any for example in Merleau-Ponty on one side. and gauging the threat relation between philosophy and science at work harboured in the latter’s tendency to assume the in their thought. into account the ‘‘aesthetic life. Certainly. that which resists. intelligence and notes imagination. To study. in every sense. apparently irreducible. But one might ask whether his Originally published as ‘‘Entre critique et me¤taphy- method does not leave open the possibility of sique: La Science chez Bergson et Brunschvicg’’ in a complementary study of the imagination Les Philosophes et la science. Thus. therefore. some of phical distinction. and that it nevertheless leaves open for a properly in the USA as Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern philosophical discourse. Pierre Wagner itself – something like that of Bachelard. gives way. One might even ask whether ical experience in our lives (except for extreme the distinction between the concepts of philoso- cases of free acts or of moral creation). beyond the doctrinal bases of their appeared ^ 1934 ^ to a text originally published in approach to science. for example Cartesian limits if perhaps not the philosophies of geometry or Einsteinian physics. thought. Brunschvicg seems to remains today. 2002) 403^ 46. The study of the problem of science in these two selves. Brunschvicg opposes that of an operative precipitately onto either one of and provisional unification of the domains of our its terms. an ultimate ‘‘metaphysical’’ foundation. hand. Brunschvicg open up two types of philosophical 2 Sokal and Bricmont’s book Impostures intellec- relation to science which neglect neither the tuelles [published in English in the UK as specificity of scientific knowledge nor the place Intellectual Impostures (London: Profile.

where he generalised the results of his 1897 10 For a general bibliography on Bergson and thesis: Introduction to the life of the Mind. Dictionnaire d’histoire et de philosophie des sciences. 8 We should compare here Politzer’s Le Bergsonisms ou la fin d’une parade philosophique 3 Preface to the first publication of the work [1929. trans. cours du bibliography Colle'ge de France (Paris: Seuil. worms last chapter. in particular. inciden. which thus science see F. be other than decisive. portement.1999). 270) how Brunschvicg enters into Bergsonian thought that something remains to be discussed here. reprinted in the 3rd edition [(Paris: PUF.1963) ^ translator’s note]. and cuts it down to its proper conceived.’’ whose role in employed by Bergson in 1920. this expression had been Downloaded By: [University of Sydney] At: 11:36 14 November 2010 Brunschvicg. published in English as Nature: Course Notes from the Colle'ge de works by bergson France. Robert Vallier (Evanston. 1968] and [Canguilhem.M. ‘‘Le Bergsonisme’’ in succeeded The Modality of Judgement. in time in the theory itself. 1896 [published in English as trans. New York: Zone. Oeuvres 1489]. Signes [Merleau-Ponty. McCleary (Evanston. concerning the role of ^ translator’s note]. trans. Henri Bergson: Essais et te¤moignages however. Richard C. Trans. the reader is referred particularly to English as The Two Sources of Morality and Religion. 1889 [published in of implicit importance from The Structure of English as Time and Free Will. Matie're et me¤moire. Mitchell. than an error.1968]. H. 1991 ^ translator’s note]. Trans. note]. Trans. 2003) ^ translator’s note]. 5 Even if this reading only appeared explicitly in the recently published Course on Nature [M. Mathematical Philosophy. but first of all phenomenological or status: that of an invalid intuition’’ (Brunschvicg. republished Paris: cernant le normal et le pathologique’’ ^ translator’s Maspero.1932 [published in Brunschvicg.’’ and. ‘‘successors. A. La Structure du com- New York: Dover. 1966) ^ published in English as The Normal and the 9 An article which appeared in no. Carolyn R. Essaisurles donne¤es Northwestern UP. only to then overturn it ‘‘like a cre“pe’’: ‘‘Arriving at namely the very question of the reality of the the point where he finds himself availed of the universe described by physics. cit. including. published in 1900. 1 of Temps Pathological. D.L. 1995). IL: Creative Evolution. trans. translated as The Structure of Behaviour. as we seek to demonstrate here. gives an exposition of tally ^ by the authors of this book ^ op. since core of Bergsonian thinking. lated as Sense and Non-Sense. F. 1967) ^ Matter and Memory. he overturns it as the role of ‘‘consciousness’’ ^ not psychologically one does a cre“pe. Lanham. Alden L. trans- note]. and was taken up again in Sens et S. Pogson. published in English L’E¤volution cre¤atrice. we might 7 Even before we find it in The Two Sources of remark that the authors say nothing of Morality and Religion. 2001 ^ translator’s note].We nevertheless maintain his preface to the republished The Stages of (having been cited ^ in erroneous fashion.). Signes. MD: Northwestern UP. Merleau-Ponty. Dreyfus (Evanston. translator’s note] through to the last articles of Paher. or its ideality. ‘‘Essai sur quelques proble'mes con- Nizan’s Le Chiens de garde [1932. La Nature: Notes. IL: Oeuvres. Sens et non-sens. 1989) ^ translator’s non-sens [Merleau-Ponty. and again in 1928 in the history of philosophy’s relation to science is his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize just as important in France as that of Bergson’s [Bergson. Brunschvicg to the book. republished Paris: Pauvert. Worms. 1964) ^ transla- 4 According to the Fichtean title given by tor’s note].L. ed. 1907 [published in English as as Signs. Paul and W. N. IL: Northwestern UP. trans. UP of America. 55 . Fisher (Boston: Beacon. Fawcett and Robert modernes in 1945. Lecourt (Paris: PUF. Jean-Toussaint Desanti. Comportment [Merleau-Ponty. nor of his ‘‘successors. perceiving ^ in this attribution of reality cannot Les E¤tapes de la philosophie mathe¤matique ii^iii). Cohen (New York: Zone. What 1943 collection dedicated to Bergson [Be¤guin and Bergson is criticised for here is less an imposture. it is imme¤diates de la conscience.S. complements and completes the latter. Thevenaz (eds. Moreover. 1983 ^ translator’s note]. but limits its treatment of Bergson’s a nice article entitled ‘‘The Inner Life of Intuition’’ relation to science to a discussion of the theory of published during the war in Be¤guin and The¤veraz’s relativity in Duration and Simultaneity. Les Deux 6 Among the numerous texts on Bergson by Sources de la morale et de lareligion.

Knoxville: U of Tennessee P. Introduction a' ‘‘Matie're et me¤moire’’ de Merleau-Ponty. Bergson et le Christ des E¤vangiles. Bergson. and P. Paris: Trans. Merleau-Ponty.1992 ^ translator’s note]. H. E¤tudes philosophiques (special issue) (1945). Spinoza et ses contemporains. de l’occident. Paris: PUF. Paris: Alcan. other works cited Merleau-Ponty. Cours. ‘‘Bergson et Einstein. in particular. Deleuze. H. ne¤ite¤. Notre Worms. 1900. Bergson and the Evolution of Physics.).1951^58. H.’’ Thesis. and trans. Henri Bergson: Paris: Gallimard. ou Laraison et le temps.1997. 1999 ^ translator’s note]. London: Continuum. La Modalite¤ du jugement. (1945). Trans. Thevenaz (eds. Be¤guin. 1966 studies of brunschvicg [published in English as Bergsonism. I^III. J. Paris: PUF. Dure¤e et simulta.1961. A. Paris: PUF. 3rd ed.1964. M. and critical 1945^53. Paris: PUF. Robinet.). 1894 ^ and other Capek. Vols. Paris: Revue de me¤taphysique et de morale (special issue) Fayard.1974. critique and metaphysics Trans. 4th ed. Ed. Paris: Les Empe“cheurs de penser en rond. Sens et non-sens. Ed. (ed. ‘‘Bergson se faisent.1995. Manchester: Clinamen. Gunter. La Nature.1991 ^ translator’s note]. Paris: Seuil.). M.). Paris: PUF. comprising Brunschvicg’s monograph on Spinoza ^ first published Paris: Alcan. Paris: PUF. vol. 1972 vol.’’ E¤tudes bergsoniennes. P. ‘‘E¤pime¤the¤e’’ collection.1960. P.1927. III: Science. Paris: PUF. F. D. Patton. Paris: PUF. Alcan. he¤ritage d’ide¤es.). L’E¤xperience humaine et la causalite¤ physique. including. Paris: Nagel. Robinet. Gallois. M.1999. 5th ed.1949. X. G. Le Bergsonisme. 7. II: L’Orientation du rationalisme. Lecourt. Ed. Deschoux. Worms. M. note].1997. Paris: Ellipses. I: L’Humanisme Me¤langes. London: Athlone.1969. a' propos de occidentale. Dame. Paris: PUF. Milet. A.1959 [published in English asThe Creative Mind. Paris: note. 1943. ‘‘Essai sur quelques proble'mes concernant le normal et le pathologique. Studies in the Philosophy of Science. I^III (vol. Forzy (eds.1972. E¤crits philosophiques.1969. Ed. R. M. 10 studies of bergson Le Progre's de la conscience dans la philosophie Barreau. 56 . Paris: PUF. A. Writings.1990 ^99. 1922. Le Vocabulaire de Bergson. Reprinted Paris: Blanchard.] Alcan. Les E¤tapes de la philosophie mathe¤matique. Canguilhem. Dure¤e et simultane¤ite¤.1905. Mabelle L. [published in English as Duration and Simultaneity. 1977 ^ translator’s 2000. Paris: PUF. Hude. F. 2002 ^ translator’s Introduction a' la vie de l’esprit. Vols. Bergson and Modern Physics. religion). Andison. see also Keith Downloaded By: [University of Sydney] At: 11:36 14 November 2010 Ansell Pearson and John Mullarkey (eds. 3rd ed.1951.’’ Signes. Neucha“tel: La Baconnie're. Key L’Ide¤alisme contemporain. Brereton. Leon Jacobson. Bergson et le calculinfinite¤simal.1953.1932. Paris: Seghers. (ed. Ashley Audra and C. Trans.1934. La Philosophie de Le¤on Brunschvicg. IN: U of Notre Dame P. F. and G.1971. Paris: PUF. Paris: PUF. et de philosophie des sciences.1912. Essais et te¤moignages. Bergson et les Paris: PUF. 2nd ed. neurosciences. Boston texts). 1948. G. He¤ritage de mots. New York: works by brunschvicg Citadel. Worms. ‘‘Le Bergsonisme. 1923 (collection Paris: PUF.’’ Dictionnaire d’histoire University of Strasbourg.1949.1973. 1922. Deschoux. M. Bergson’s work. La Pense¤e et le mouvant. P. Brunschvicg. Gouhier. selection from. Dordrecht: Reidel. [For an English-language overview of.1943.

M.1960.fr Robin Mackay Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy Middlesex University Trent Park Bramley Road London N14 4YZ UK E-mail: robin@urbanomic. M. Downloaded By: [University of Sydney] At: 11:36 14 November 2010 Frédéric Worms Université Charles-de-Gaulle – Lille 3 Domaine universitaire du ‘‘Pont de Bois’’ rue du Barreau BP 149 59653 Villeneuve d’Ascq Cedex France E-mail: f. Paris: PUF. and J. worms Merleau-Ponty. Bricmont. Paris: Odile Jacob. La Structure du comportement. Merleau-Ponty. Paris: Gallimard.1942.worms@wanadoo. Signes. Impostures intellectuelles. Sokal. A.1997.com .