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(2010) Bergson and phenomenology, Dordrecht, Springer.

Life as vision

Bergson and the future of seeing differently

Alia Al-Saji

pp. 148-173

In Creative Evolution,1 Henri Bergson depicts a "cinematographic illusion' in philosophical thinking that has vision as its basis (EC 306/753). Aiming at utility, vision does not follow the articulations of the real but condenses, solidifies and immobilizes reality in order to better manipulate and act upon it (EC 300–3/749-51). Vision sees neither the moving continuity of the material universe, nor the qualitative heterogeneity of life, rather it projects behind these temporal realities a homogeneous spatializing net that allows their decomposition and reconstruction according to abstract and empty schémas. Vision thus renders the world in terms of objects. More importantly, since visual perception is tied to the teleology of action, this objectification is naturalized as a reductive yet necessary structure of visual relations (EC 306/754). At best, vision could be understood to be adapted to the order of inert materiality, abstractly conceived in terms of artificially isolated systems; at worst, vision would be so structured by the needs of utility as to perpetually overlook what is novel and unpredictable, to misperceive what lives, endures, ages and invents.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1057/9780230282995_9

Full citation:

Al-Saji, A. (2010)., Life as vision: Bergson and the future of seeing differently, in M. Kelly (ed.), Bergson and phenomenology, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 148-173.

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