The Reality of Duration in the Physical World and its Implications

  • Milič Čapek
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 7)


Bergson’s first book asserted a sharp dualism of the psychological and the physical world. It was a dualism of a different kind than the dualism of Descartes: instead of the opposition between extended matter and unextended mind, Bergson posited the duality of the timeless, spatial world and the temporal world of psychological events. Had Bergson retained this sharp distinction of the temporal world of mind and the timeless world of matter, he would have run into the same inextricable difficulties as his seventeenth century predecessor. Indeed his difficulties would have been even greater; if it was difficult to conceive of interaction between the Cartesian res cogitansand res extensa, how could we in any intelligible way conceive of the correlation between the unfolding realm of psychological duration and the completed, timeless, i.e. purely spatial, realm of matter? Thus Essai sur les données immèdiates de la consciencewas necessarily a provisional stage in the growth of Bergson’s thought. But this stage already contained indications of his subsequent development, the main feature of which was that the timelessness of matter was given up without sacrificing the essential duality, or at least polarity, of mind and matter.


Physical World Classical Physic Infinite Divisibility Reidel Publishing Company Physical Duration 
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© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1971

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  • Milič Čapek

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