In The Dialectic of Duration Gaston Bachelard addresses the nature of time in response to the writings of his great contemporary, Henri Bergson. The work is motivated by a refutation of Bergson’s notion of duration – ‘lived time’, experienced as continuous. For Bachelard, experienced time is irreducibly fractured and interrupted, as indeed are material events. At stake is an entire conception of the physical world, an entire approach to the philosophy of science. It was in this work that Bachelard first marshalled all the components of his visionary philosophy of science, with its steady insistence on the human context and subtle encompassing of the irrational within the rational. The Dialectic of Duration reaches far beyond local arguments over the nature of the physical world to gesture toward the building of an entirely new form of philosophy.
Series Editors' Preface / Translator’s Note / Introduction, Christina Chimisso / Foreword / 1. Relaxation and Nothingness / 2. The Psychology of Temporal Phenomena / 3. Duration and Physical Causality / 4. Duration and Intellectual Causality / 5. Temporal Consolidation / 6. Temporal Superimpositions / 7. Metaphors of Duration / 8. Rhythmanalysis / Index
Gaston Bachelard (1884-1962) was Professor of Philosophy at the University of Dijon and later held the Chair of History of Philosophy of Science at La Sorbonne. His ideas influenced thinkers as diverse as Derrida, Foucault and Barthes.
Translated by Mary McAllester Jones, with an introduction by Cristina Chimisso.
Bachelard’s strikingly original conception of time shapes both his philosophy of science and his work on the poetic imagination. Beginning with discontinuity, he explores the way different forms of duration are constructed, bringing out the unique qualities of each. It is a brilliant study of temporal pluralism, dedicated to repose, creativity, and happiness.
In a polemic against Bergson’s élan vital, Bachelard argues for a discontinuous time made of instants out of which we construct new durations (and deconstruct old ossified ones) to launch projects and lead lives of creative rhythms. Together with the earlier L’Intuition de l’instant, this profound and strikingly original meditation on time forms the ‘metaphysical’ core of Bachelard’s thought.