The Correlation of Different Temporal Rhythms with Different Degrees of Extension

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


While Bergson was definitely influenced by James in his view about the intrinsically extensive character of allsensations — a view which was clearly implied in Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetic — he went beyond James and Kant in his effort to correlatepsychological extension with the general temporality of consciousness. One of the fundamental questions of Matter and Memory — the question overlooked by almost all critics and commentators, both friendly and hostile — was as follows: is it possible to relate the extensive character of our sensory perception of the physical world to the basic temporal structure of our consciousness as it was described and analyzed in the Essai? Bergson’s answer was surprising: what we call extension is merely another aspect of ‘diluted’ or ‘extended’ duration, i.e. of duration with a restricted temporal span. More specifically, different degrees of spatialitycorrespond to different degrees of durational tension;the acceleration of the temporal rhythm (i.e. the restriction of the temporal span) generates ipso facto extension itself. “L’extension apparait seulement, disions-nous, comme une tension qui s’interrompt1This sentence and all other sentences of a similar nature occurring in Creative Evolutioncertainly had a mysterious and even mystical ring which baffled equally those who disagreed and those who were generally sympathetic to Bergson’s philosophy of duration.


Physical World Modern Physic Successive Phasis Temporal Span Temporal Rhythm 
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© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1971

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  • Milič Čapek

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