chapter  Eleven
21 Pages

Legacy

WithMark Sinclair

Henri Bergson, who seemed increasingly parochial and outdated to some, was being passed over by philosophers importing the national tradition that he had so vehemently and vociferously rejected in 1914. With the aim of understanding Bergson’s legacy in twentieth- and twenty-first-century philosophy, we should assess briefly Heidegger’s remarks on his French predecessor both in Being and Time and in his lecture courses of the 1920s. Jean-Paul Sartre’s concern for an idea of nothingness in his 1943 Being and Nothingness also pitted him directly against Bergson. Sartre replaces Bergson’s philosophy of plenitude and positivity with an explicit confrontation with negativity, nothingness, anxiety, atheism and death. Sartre was justified in moving beyond Bergson’s position on nothingness, but he did not always reject his predecessor for good reasons. “The notion of difference”, Deleuze writes, “must throw a certain light on Bergson’s philosophy, but inversely, Bergsonism must bring the greatest contribution to a philosophy of difference”.