[D-G] Close reading : Bergson's conception of difference [2 paragraph]

filip fildh at gmx.net
Mon Oct 6 13:15:48 PDT 2008

Essentially, Bergson criticizes his predecessors for not having seen 
true differences
of nature. The constant presence of this critique also signals the 
importance of
the theme in Bergson's work: where there were differences of nature, 
others have
found merely differences of degree. And certainly we find the opposite 
where there were only differences of degree, others have introduced 
of nature, for example, between the so-called perceptive faculty of the 
brain and
the reflexive functions of the medulla, or the perception of matter and 
differences of nature between things of the same kind. If differences of 
nature do
exist between individuals of the same kind, we must then recognize that 
ence itself is not simply spatio-temporal, that it is not generic or 
specific—in a
word, difference is not exterior or superior to the thing. This is why, 
to Bergson, it is important to show that general ideas, at least most of 
the time,
ptesent us with extremely different facts in a grouping that is merely 
"Suppose on examining those states grouped under the name of pleasure, 
we dis­
cover they share nothing in common, except being states that a person 
seeks out:
humanity will have classified very different things as the same in kind, 
because humanity attributed the same practical interest to each and 
acted in the
same way towards them."' In this sense, differences of nature are 
already the key:
we must start from them, but first we must find them. Without prejudging the
nature of difference as internal difference, we already know that 
internal differ­
ence exists, given that there exist differences of nature between things 
of the same
genus. Therefore, either philosophy proposes for itself this means 
(differences of
nature) and this end (to arrive at internal difference), or else it will 
have merely
a negative or generic relation to things and will end up a part of 
criticism and
mere generalities—in any case, it will run the risk of ending up in a 
merely exter­
nal state of reflection. Opting for the first alternative, Bergson puts 
philosophy's ideal: to tailor "for the object a concept appropriate to 
that object
alone, a concept that one can hardly still call a concept, since it 
applies only to
that one thing." This unity of the thing and the concept is internal 
differnce, which
one reaches thorugh differences of nature.

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