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(2010) Bergson and phenomenology, Dordrecht, Springer.

The failure of Bergsonism

Renaud Barbaras

pp. 258-272

A long discussion of the phénoménologies that either directly or indirectly confront the question of life has clarified our initial problem. Our starting point was the a priori of the correlation and the question of the meaning of being of the subject as a condition of appearance. We concluded from the analysis of the correlation's own constraints that the subject's meaning of being must be sought in what we have characterized as living, emphasizing the indistinctness or positive ambiguity of the term, which refers both to being alive and the capacity to undergo, to sense, and to perceive. This meant that what defines the subject consists in the fact that its vitality envelops a dimension of openness to the exterior, and moreover, that the subject's perceptual relation to the world cannot be thought outside of vital activity. But it was not a matter of returning to the naive evidence that claims that one must first be alive in order to know what vital activity is, the perceptual activity being the prerogative of certain living beings that are said to be "superior' on account of the configuration of their nervous system. The concern was rather to affirm, more radically, that the subject is both a subject of the world, and, in virtue of its life, the condition of its appearance, and that as such, its life as such is an opening to the world or knowledge. Accordingly, the concern was to recognize that all experience and all activity of knowledge remains a vital activity, and the question we confront now is ultimately that of knowing how perception raises itself up from life, or of knowing in what way, in what sense of life, perception is a vital activity.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1057/9780230282995_14

Full citation:

Barbaras, R. (2010)., The failure of Bergsonism, in M. Kelly (ed.), Bergson and phenomenology, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 258-272.

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