McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Aristotle, Augustine, Bergson, Heidegger, Temporality, Time
In Being and Time, Heidegger claims that the history of the ordinary concept of time is Aristotelian. He says further that this Aristotelian heritage runs from Aristotle to Bergson. In this dissertation, I dispute part of this claim. I dispute that the history of the concept of time is Aristotelian, but I agree that there is a connection between Aristotle and Bergson. Bergson, whose writing on temporality was popular just before the publication of Being and Time, has a theory of temporality, which he calls duration, which is heavily influenced by Aristotle's theory. The primary figure that influences the history of the concept of time, though, is Augustine. This is because Aristotle's theory of time is a qualitative theory of time, whereas Augustine's theory is quantitative (which Bergson calls spatial), and the history of the concept of time is primarily, and for the most part, quantitative or spatial. Heidegger's insistence on calling the history of the concept Aristotelian, and on drawing the genealogy from Aristotle to Bergson, leads me to believe that Heidegger's own theory of original temporality is actually, in part, a reaction to Bergson's theory of duration.
In this dissertation, I demonstrate this claim in the following manner. In Chapter 1, I examine Augustine's theory of time, and show how it, rather than Aristotle, lies at the heart of the two major modern theories of time: Kant's theory and the theory that runs through classical mechanics. Then, in Chapter 2, I show that Aristotle's theory of time is better understood as a qualitative theory. This leads to Chapter 3, where I show that Bergson's theory of duration, which is a purely qualitative theory of time, was influenced by Aristotle's theory. Finally, in Chapter 4, I show that Heidegger's theory of original temporality is actually a spatial theory of the sort Bergson critiqued. The genealogy Heidegger draws from Aristotle to Bergson seems designed to hide the fact that Heidegger's theory arose, in part, as a reaction to Bergson's theory of duration.
Collins-Cavanaugh, D. (2005). Bergson's Aristotelian Theory of Duration and the History of Temporality (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/426