The Eternal Quarrel on Time [chapter]

Donatella Donati, Simone Gozzano
2021 Einstein vs. Bergson  
In this paper we consider the dispute over the nature of time that divided Einstein and Bergson one century ago. In particular,wewill focus on the role to assign to consciousness with respect to ap hysical quantity,t ime. We shallc laim that there is ap osition that both Einstein and Bergson weren ot opposedt o but rather werec ompatible with, and this is af orm of eternalism. However, when interpreted by Bergson'sp erspective on consciousness, such av iew comes with av ery highp rice, thato fp
more » ... anpsychism. 1I ntroduction Bergson, the philosopher,a nd Einstein, the physicist,c lashed on the natureo f time. On April 6 th 1922,a tt he Société Française de Philosophie (French Philosophical Society) the most important philosopher of the time and the physicist that set ar evolutionary theory that changed our most rooted conception of time and space, met in ap ublic debate.¹ The story goes thatt he two thinkers ended up by leaving on the terrain an irreconcilable fracture between time as considered by science and time as considered by philosophy, or at least by a number of philosophers of phenomenological faith and continental methodology.Itseems natural then, almostone century after,totake stock on whether that disagreement was reallyirreconcilable. Bergson held an articulatedview of time, one in which apersonal,orp sychological conception of time, was the most important one and it was to be, at most,flanked with the purelyphysical view of it. The personal view wasdominating over the purelyp hysical one, deemed to be insufficient to characterize the deep, and essentiallyh uman natureo ft ime. Einstein, famously, argued thatt here was no "time of philosophy",a dvocating av iew of time as what is measured by clocks, thus dismissing the idea that there is at ime beyond the physical nature of time,the one thatc ould be measured. In this paper,wet ry to show thatt here is ac ommon metaphysical terrain for Bergson and Einstein, so as to reducethe import of their disagreement.Such common terrain can be found in aversion of eternalism, one to which we will get  See Canales (2015).
doi:10.1515/9783110753707-006 fatcat:t7sqgsgjrnhrfidubyzzee6gyu