Reviewed by Alexandre Lefebvre, The University of Sydney
A special kind of unhappiness marks Henri Bergson's relationship to phenomenology: that of being dismissed by a tradition that has largely absorbed him. This is, at least, how Merleau-Ponty put it in late in his career:
If we had been careful readers of Bergson, and if more thought had been given to him, we would have been drawn to a much more concrete philosophy… . It is quite certain that Bergson, had we read him carefully, would have taught us things that ten or fifteen years later we believed to be discoveries made by the philosophy of existence itself.
Thus, to show the contemporary relevance of Bergson for phenomenology, a different strategy is required than, say, rehabilitation (which would be necessary in analytical philosophy) or introduction (which would be the case in political philosophy). Instead, dialogue is called for to stage an encounter which has, in a sense, continually taken place and been consistently avoided. The virtue of Michael R. Kelly's volume is not only to have reconstructed debates between Bergson and classical phenomenologists but, more importantly, to propose a Bergsonian contribution to such central phenomenological topics as subjectivity, time, embodiment, nothingness, life, and freedom.