The perception of change and self-knowledge: Bergson and Kant

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Bergson’s metaphysics and his epistemology are often described as wholly opposed to Kant’s transcendental philosophy. In this chapter, I argue that Bergson’s philosophical project is as much a critical transformation of Kant’s theory as a complete abandonment of it. I suggest that Bergson’s account of the perception of change exemplifies his partial commitment to Kant’s conceptual framework. Bergson indeed rejects Kant’s claim that the perception of change is based on a synthesis of representations. Nevertheless, I demonstrate that his account of homogeneous multiplicity is based on Kant’s epistemic distinction between space and spatial objects. In addition, Bergson held a direct realist view regarding pure perception, but he did not hold such a view regarding the perception of the duration of external entities. In Creative Evolution, and elsewhere, he indeed criticized the cinematographic model of knowledge. Nevertheless, it is in his view a natural and useful capacity that constitutes an essential part of temporal experience. I suggest that in some respects, the cinematographic model parallels Kant’s theory of the perception of change.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Bergsonian Mind
EditorsMark Sinclair, Yaron Wolf
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780429020735
ISBN (Print)9780367074333, 0367074338
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameRoutledge Philosophical Minds


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