“The brain and the neurosciences in Bergson”

The objective of my presentation is to highlight the principal aspects of Bergson’s philosophy related with experimental psychology, such as his conception of the role of the brain in human perception and his theory of action. To achieve this goal, we shall recapitulate the main theses of Bergson’s theory of memory to measure its impact when confronted with the latest scientific experiments. We shall see that Bergson conceives a certain independence of memory in relation to the matter and denies that the first can be placed in the second. Besides of the philosophical implications that this thesis may have (especially in relation to overcoming the “dualism”), it establishes a hypothesis about the functioning of the brain that immediately raises suspicions of the modern physiology. Indeed, Bergson’s conviction that the spirit (pure memory) can be dissociated from the functioning of the human brain is not shared by most scientists. But what is striking is that now proliferate books written jointly by philosophers and neuroscientists who give to action a central role in philosophical theories of subjectivity. Therefore, we must admit at least that by stating the thesis that perception is an anticipation of action, Bergson fits in this trend as one of its precursors and we must recognize also his current relevance.