31 May 2009

1. Introduction, Kelly's "Husserl, Deleuzean Bergsonism and the Sense of the Past in General"

by Corry Shores
[Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

[Central Entry Directory]
[Husserl Entry Directory]
[Kelly "Husserl, Deleuzean Bergsonism" Entry Directory]

Michael R. Kelly

Husserl, Deleuzean Bergsonism

and the Sense of the Past in General

1. Introduction

There are many well known post-modern critiques of Husserl's theory of inner time-consciousness. But they ignore the fact that the theory developed and changed. Yet now the postmodern critiques are giving way to Deleuzean post-structuralist ones. His text Le bergsonisme presents an alternative to phenomenology.

The strategy is to attack Husserl’s time-consciousness.

Bergsonism hopes to undermine Husserlian phenomenology, to cut it off at the knee, by criticizing Husserl’s theory of the most fundamental and ‘‘importantof all phenomenological problems,’’ the problem of time-consciousness. (p.16)

Bergsonists have this to say about Husserl’s time theory:

a) it is a linear sequence of iterating instants,

b) in it is a center now-point internal to consciousness that is privileged over the past, and


Husserl derives the past from the present and thus cannot account adequately for the sense of the past, which differs in kind from the present. If Husserl cannot account for the sense of the past otherwise than as a derivative of the present, the argument continues, then everything on his account remains present and his theory cannot accommodate time’s fundamental characteristic, namely its passage. (16)

Kelly will counter recent Deleuzean Bergsonist critiques of Husserl’s time-consciousness theory. He does so by renewing the earlier Husserlian defenses. In the first section, he will present Bergsonism’s alternative conception of the past in general and the way it critiques Husserl’s theory. In the second section he contends that this critique fails because it neglects Husserl’s newer ideas about our immediate consciousness of the past. This interpretation develops as he comes later to formulate his theory of the living present. Husserl’s terminology changes from “primary memory” to “retention” as he moves away from his early schema-apprehension model. Bergsonism misses this development, so they construe the moments of the living present as though they proceeded linearly.

Kelly concludes by claiming that the Bergsonists notion of the past is not all that close to Bergson’s own position after all. In fact, Husserl’s theory is closer to Bergson than is the Bergsonist alternative.

Kelly, Michael R. "Husserl, Deleuzean Bergsonism and the Sense of the Past in General." Husserl Studies (April, 2008) Vol 24, pp.15–30.

More information and online text available at:


No comments:

Post a Comment