Philosophy Faculty Publications

Title

From Perception to Subject: The Bergsonian Reversal

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2014

Publication Source

Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy

Abstract

What singles out philosophical analyses of perception is the challenge to common sense, that is, to the spontaneous, instinctive belief that an external world exists and that it is similar to the perception we have of it. Even those theories that refrain from questioning the independent existence of the world concede that the resemblance of whatever is out there to the perceived reality is anything but assured. Henri Bergson proposes a theory of perception that not only restores the common belief in the existence of an external world, but also goes a long way in narrowing the alleged disparity between perception and the objective world. With few exceptions, Bergson’s theory of perception has been either ignored or misunderstood. Through a close reading of the first chapter of Matter and Memory, the paper argues, in addition to correcting misreadings, that the strength and originality of Bergson’s theory lie in the reversal of the method of explaining perception from the premise of a given subject, a premise shared by all idealist and realist theories as well as phenomenology. This de-subjectification proposes an approach deriving perception from the interactions of objects while countering the materialist theory of the brain as an organ of representation. The paper contends that the Bergsonian elucidation of the brain as an organ of simulation both anticipates the findings of the sensorimotor theory and overcomes its limitation by showing how simulation inserts indetermination into materiality, thereby actualizing consciousness.

Inclusive pages

102-123

ISBN/ISSN

1936-6280

Comments

Permission documentation is on file.

Publisher

University Library System, co-sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Press

Volume

23

Issue

2

Peer Reviewed

yes