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Living Consciousness: The Metaphysical Vision of Henri Bergson (S U N Y Series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology) Hardcover – December 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: S U N Y Series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology
  • Hardcover: 342 pages
  • Publisher: State Univ of New York Pr (December 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1438439571
  • ISBN-13: 978-1438439570
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,915,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Living Consciousness examines the brilliant, but now largely ignored, insights of French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859-1941). Offering a detailed and accessible analysis of Bergson's thought, G. William Barnard highlights how Bergson's understanding of the nature of consciousness and, in particular, its relationship to the physical world remain strikingly relevant to numerous contemporary fields. These range from quantum physics and process thought to philosophy of mind, depth psychology, transpersonal theory, and religious studies. Bergson's notion of consciousness as a ceaselessly dynamic, inherently temporal substance of reality itself provides a vision that can function as a persuasive alternative to mechanistic and reductionistic understandings of consciousness and reality. Barnard closes the work with several "ruminations" or neo-Bergsonian responses to a series of vitally important questions such as: What does it mean to live consciously, authentically, and attuned to our inner depths? Is there a philosophically sophisticated way to claim that the survival of consciousness after physical death is not only possible but likely?

About the Author

G. William Barnard is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University. He is the author of Exploring Unseen Worlds: William James and the Philosophy of Mysticism, also published by SUNY Press, and coeditor (with Jeffrey J. Kripal) of Crossing Boundaries: Essays on the Ethical Status of Mysticism.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Robert Forman on December 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book. Dr. Barnard has managed to explore in a single tome a major French philosopher of the early 20th century (Henri Bergson), as well as to examine the nature of consciousness. He also weaves in his own personal reflections to help it all come alive.

By beginning with Bergson's biographical and historical context, Barnard gives us reason to care about the life and work of this once famous and now all-too-ignored philosopher.

But Barnard's main contribution is to explore the nature of consciousness via Bergson's ideas about it. He helps us see why consciousness, that most essential yet obscure feature of human life, is much, much more than simply the accidental effect of brain processes. Bergson (via Barnard) offers us a plausible and compelling panpsychic or perhaps panentheistic account of consciousness as the temporal, dynamic, creative substratum of all of reality. Indeed, says Bergson (via Barnard), physical matter itself may be seen as simply one highly habituated end of a continuum of different vibratory levels of consciousness. And rather than the brain producing states of consciousness, the brain may "filter," or "receive" something of consciousness, much like a radio "receives" radio signals.

Barnard's more self-reflective "ruminations" are one of my favorite aspects of the book. These reflections helped me understand the implications of Bergson's perspective for topics as diverse as authenticity, freedom, memory, the nature of the subconscious, psi research and even the possibility of life after death.

Taken all together, Living Consciousness should appeal to both educated readers and to academics. It is a valuable and important work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Allan L. Combs on June 27, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Professor William Barnard has given us a fascinating and highly readable tour of Henri Bergson's (1859-1941) thought on consciousness, using it as a pivot point to unfold other major dimensions of his work as well. The book is a welcome addition to the sparse literature on Bergson's heritage that is presently available to a broad English-speaking readership.
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