Bergson and Derrida: A Question of Writing Time as Philosophy’s Other

Daniel Alipaz


Following the 1988 publication of Bergsonism by Gilles Deleuze, many contemporary critics such as Leonard Lawlor and Paul Douglass have re-contextualized Bergson within poststructuralism. In so doing, Bergsonian theory enables us to readdress questions associated with concepts of temporality and their relation to language. In considering this re-appropriation, Suzanne Guerlac in Thinking in Time: an introduction to Henri Bergson (2006), asks why Bergson has never been considered in relation to Derrida, given that the two philosophers share fundamental concerns about time and writing. Following Derrida’s critique of Husserl in La Voix et le phénomène (1967), it is perhaps the case that many critics categorize Bergson as a phenomenologist. However, I aim to develop the argument that Guerlac instigates and show that Derrida’s critique of Husserl in fact establishes a close proximity with Bergson’s view that Western metaphysics suppresses time as durée. I will show how both Bergson and Derrida operate with the understanding of a particular rupture in the full presence of the present, an expansion of consciousness as a ‘now’ to include a constant deferral to memory. While this overlap establishes an affinity, I conclude by showing that it simultaneously marks a point of diffraction with regard to how both seek to methodologically embody such a concept of time.


Bergson; Derrida; Husserl; presence; duration; time; writing

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