Reasonable Evolution: On Bergson’s Dualism and the Promise of Materialist Dialectic

Kosugi, Masayoshi. 2017. Reasonable Evolution: On Bergson’s Dualism and the Promise of Materialist Dialectic. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis reconstructs a materialist dialectical logic through a novel reading of Henri Bergson’s method of intuition. We argue that Bergson’s theory of intuition is fundamentally double in nature and contains within itself both the retrieval of Kantian time as well as its transcendence by positing the Other of time through the theory of “duration.” We call this Bergson’s Transcendental Dualism and present a study of the materialist-phenomenological interrelation between time and duration as the key towards reconstructing a unique materialist dialectic that is neither naïvely positivistic nor nihilistic in nature. Our argument is that this dualism of intuition sits at the core of Bergson’s philosophy and it accomplishes a reversal of idealism that makes possible both the critique/negation of the historical constitution of finite human subjectivity as well as the affirmation of the Absolute Self from a materialist standpoint. Our exposition will be laid out in two parts. In Part I, we examine the element of time as that which endows the method of intuition with the capacity for negation or critique in a way compatible with Marxist criticism of subjectivity. In Part II, we explore the aspect of duration in terms of intuition’s capacity for affirmation. In contradistinction to that of time, it is our view that the theory of duration corresponds to Bergson’s non-metaphysical way of apprehending the Absolute Self, not in terms of a belief in the supra-sensible Idea but as the pure, transcendental sensuousness given within one’s actual intuition. Having established the duality of time and duration as the transcendental condition of intuition, this opens up a possibility for the becoming of human to be a free act of synthesis and leads towards what Bergson calls “reasonable evolution”.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


intuition, time, duration, freedom, Henri Bergson, Immanuel Kant, transcendental dualism

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Centre for Cultural Studies (1998-2017)


30 June 2017

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

05 Jul 2017 12:48

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 11:49


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