Beyond Man: Rethinking Life and Matter

Rebecca Hill

in The Interval

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780823237241
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823240708 | DOI:
Beyond Man: Rethinking Life and Matter

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This chapter analyzes Bergson's effort to go beyond the human condition in his theorisation of the life–matter relationship. He presents the relationship between life and matter in both dualistic and monistic terms. Life is duration, a rhythm of incalculable novelty that approaches pure creative activity. In stark contrast, matter is identified with the determinism of homogeneous space. After Time and Free Will, Bergson concedes some share of duration to matter. In this context, his dualism can be understood as a methodological step toward the articulation of a monistic metaphysics of duration. The chapter suggests that the distinction between life and matter is also motivated by an unconscious imperative to establish a sexed hierarchy. Bergson repeatedly presents life as seminal, while matter is figured in terms of passivity, a critique that is not elaborated in order to shut him down. On the contrary, the chapter draws out the aspects of his thinking that might enable an escape from sexed hierarchy, and aims to re-conceive his thinking of life and matter as a philosophy of material becoming.

Keywords: Bergson; dualism; monism; posthumanism; life; matter; phallocentrism; difference; sexual difference

Chapter.  6635 words. 

Subjects: Feminist Philosophy

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