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Bergsonism Paperback – November 8, 1990

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Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) was Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris VIII, Vincennes/Saint Denis. He published 25 books, including five in collaboration with Félix Guattari.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Zone Books; Reissue edition (November 8, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0942299078
  • ISBN-13: 978-0942299076
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #540,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
In this book, Gilles Deleuze analyzes and supplements the work of philosopher Henri Bergson. The importance of this book lies in its ability to give insights not only into the work of Bergson but also into the later work of Deleuze.
For example, the first chapter of this book deals with Bergson's method of intuition. Interestingly enough, Deleuze applies this method to Bergson's own philosophy. In very basic terms, this method involves distinguishing "differences in kind" between elements (this is important, since Bergson believes that we usually go by false generalizations) and then bring together these elements once again but such that we understand them as they truly are and not as what Deleuze calls a "badly analyzed composite". In analyzing Bergson's philosophy, Deleuze distinguishes elan vital, duration, and memomory as the basic concepts. Furthermore, each of these concepts can only be understood in terms of intuition for various reasons; for example, that only intuition can grasp pure movement (duration). Throughout this book, Deleuze usually (although not always) gives an account of Bergson's concepts without assuming complete knowledge on the part of the reader, which is helpful. However, on the other hand, Deleuze doesn't always tell us what is "his" philosophy and what is Bergson's. Because of this, "Bergsonism" should not be utilized as a summary of Bergson's work. That is, even though Deleuze is clear enough for someone with little background in Bergson to understand much of this book, this does not mean that this person would then "know Bergson" but rather a Bergson-Deleuzian hybrid. This isn't a flaw to the book; rather, it merely suggests how it ought to be read.
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Gilles Deleuze wrote two kinds of books. On the one hand, he wrote books that were meant to be explications of his own philosophy and ontology, both alone and in collaboration with Felix Guattari. On the other hand, he wrote numerous works that were meant to be explications of the work of other philosophers, usually philosophers that Deleuze considered to be important influences on his own ontology. I would say it is impossible to understand the first set of books without reading the second, and vice versa. They need to be read together. There are, therefore, two reasons to read this work. First, it is a brilliant exposition of the work of Henri Bergson, and second, it is essential for understanding Deleuze's own philosophy, particularly his understanding of the virtual, multiplicity, and the univocity of Being.

The book is meant to be an analysis of Henri Bergson's ontology, and Deleuze analyzes the most important concepts in Bergson's philosophy in great detail (duration, memory, élan vital, time, space, multiplicity, the virtual, intuition, etc.). The book is full of brilliant insights on Bergson's philosophy which it would not be possible to adequately summarize in this review. I have decided to simply try to summarize two of Deleuze's insights, however inadequate my short summaries must be. I have chosen them almost at random.

First, Deleuze presents a brilliant account of Bergson's method of intuition in the first chapter of this book. Deleuze argues against treating Bergson's method of intuition as a simple intuition of the immediate, bordering on the mystical, and lacking in rigor. Deleuze believes the method of intuition is a rigorous method of distinguishing between true and false problems by analyzing composites into their tendencies.
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Deleuze is trying to save Bergson from being lost to the ages and reduced to a cliché. Deleuze saw something in Bergson that needed to be made more precise. I believe the same will have to be done with Deleuze, what is the precise formulation of Deleuzian-Bergsonism? It is a beautiful web of ideas. The one concept I always remained skeptical of in Deleuze's work was the virtual, but it is by reading this work and Bergson's work that I began to see that the virtual is a precise idea. It is the connecting tissue which links intensive difference, elan vital, memory, novelty, multiplicity, duration etc. The one major comment I'd like to make about this books is that the material is difficult, but once you become practiced in it, this book in particular reads like a lightning strike, it moves fast, there isn't one wasted or unimportant sentence. Of all Deleuze's books this one is written with the most urgency. It is the reading equivalent of being slapped in the face while dozing off. I see this work as his manifesto, where you see how high the stakes are.
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best analysis of Bergson's method... period. "easy" to read (for a Deleuze work).. the lecture format is perfect for the project, and it sticks to a description of Bergson without a lot of secondary references that could be overwhelming to someone merely looking for insight into a Bergson text without knowing ALL about the Western philosophical tradition.
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This book is about Bergsonfs notions (especially matter and memory), but constitutes Deleuzefs view of the world because of his own interpretation of Bergson. At first, Deleuze mentions to this bookfs aim which is to determine the relationship between the three notions, duration, memory, and elan vital in Bergsonfs philosophy. Then, he considers intuition in Bergson which would be a method to achieve the aim. He sets five rules on intuition and probes the relationship between the three notions. Finally, he relates them in the process of differentiation. This notion of gdifferentiationh is very important in Deleuzefs philosophy, which is clear in his other books. Moreover, this book contains some interesting discussions such as criticism to Einsteinfs theory and to evolutionism. I think that this book is important to understand Deleuzefs philosophy and that it must be a very helpful guide to read his gCinema 1: The Movement-Imageh and gCinema 2: The Time-Imageh.
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