Article

Influence as Confluence: Bergson and Whitehead

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The goal in this article is to compare Bergson’s and Whitehead’s treatment of language and in particular the extent to which each believed that language is capable of expressing the temporal dimension of experience.
Chapter
Miloš Ševčík considers the aesthetic difference between inertia and dynamism in art as presented by Whitehead and Bergson. Ševčík articulates how a comparison of these two process philosophers shows remarkable similarities in their emphasis not only on the importance of fundamental innovations in artistic development, but also in revealing key connections between these innovations and reality. For Ševčík, this comparison is particularly pronounced in the later work of both Whitehead and Bergson. In drawing Whitehead and Bergson together, Ševčík looks to artistic themes of attained perfection and creative joy; emotions and nature with respect to truthfulness; and the relationship of art to the future. Ševčík thus unveils striking mutual similarities between Whitehead and Bergson with respect to dynamism and stagnation in art.
Chapter
Andrew Kirkpatrick looks to the ways in which both Whitehead and Maurice Merleau-Ponty reject the “fallacy of simple location” as the atomization of space and time into simply located instants. Whitehead and Merleau-Ponty were both influenced by Bergson, and they also extend his critique and arrived at independent, but complimentary, conceptions of epochal time. In particular, Kirkpatrick argues that while Whitehead provides a metaphysical account of epochal time, Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology, with his revised conception of intentionality, phenomenological reduction, and being-in-the-world, provides a means of comprehending epochal time in terms of embodiment. Clarifying the “atomic” nature of epochal time, Kirkpatrick considers Whitehead’s eternal objects together with Merleau-Ponty’s adoption of Gestalt psychology, and argues that epochal time can be characterized as a “bracketed” time in particular ways.
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The article is a discussion of Alfred North Whitehead’s and Henri Bergson’s considerations of the difference between creativity and stagnation in art. A comparison of the ideas of these two thinkers is then made with the intention of demonstrating the similarity of their approaches to the nature and meaning of fundamental innovations in art. The article also emphasizes that, according to the two thinkers, such innovations are derived from the artist’s relationship with multifaceted reality and are inspired by a true revelation of it. Finally, the article considers Whitehead’s and Bergson’s ideas about the relationship between artistic creativity and the future: the future of universal harmony in Whitehead and the future of artistic production in Bergson.
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