The Origin of Time

Heidegger and Bergson

By Heath Massey

Subjects: Continental Philosophy, Phenomenology, Heidegger, Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Paperback : 9781438455327, 299 pages, January 2016
Hardcover : 9781438455310, 299 pages, April 2015

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Table of contents

Introduction: Thinking Through Time
1. Following Bergson’s Footsteps: Time in Heidegger’s Early Works
1. The Question of Time
2. The Structure of the Concept of Time
3. Life as a Primordial Phenomenon
4. To Understand Time in Terms of Time
5. The Time That We Ourselves Are
6. A More Original Concept of Time
7. On the Verge of Being and Time
2. Dispelling the Confusion: Pure Duration in Time and Free Will
1. Heidegger on the Concept of Duration
2. Thinking Spatially about Time
3. The Confusion of Quality with Quantity and Conscious States with Objects
4. The Confusion of Duration with Extensity and Time with Space
5. The Fundamental Self and the Superficial Self
6. Freedom: Getting Back into Duration
7. Reversing Kantianism
8. Anticipating Originary Temporality
3. Uncovering the Primordial Phenomenon: Originary Temporality in Being and Time
1. Bergson in Being and Time
2. Time and the Question of Being
3. From Being-in-the-World to Temporality
4. From Temporality to Time
5. The Ordinary Understanding of Time
6. The Origin of the Concept of Time
7. Temporality and Spatiality
8. Temporality and Selfhood
9. Heidegger’s Bergsonism
4. Reversing Bergsonism: Time and Temporality in The Basic Problems of Phenomenology
1. Thinking More Radically about Time
2. Destruction of the Traditional Concept of Time
3. A Glimpse of Temporality
4. Bergson’s Misunderstandings
5. De-spatializing Aristotle’s Thinking about Time
6. An Inverted History of Time
5. Challenging the Privilege of Presence: The Ontological Turn in Matter and Memory
1. From Duration to Memory
2. The Presence of Images
3. The Survival of the Past in the Present: Memory and Habit
4. The Survival of the Past in Itself
5. The Problem of Existence
6. The Movement of Memory
7. Rhythms of Duration
8. Ecstatic Duration
Conclusion: The Movement of Temporalization
1. The Swinging of Time
2. Rethinking Time

A critical examination of the relationship between the philosophies of Martin Heidegger and Henri Bergson, focusing on the central issue of time.


The recent renewal of interest in the philosophy of Henri Bergson has increased both recognition of his influence on twentieth-century philosophy and attention to his relationship to phenomenology. Until now, the question of Martin Heidegger's debt to Bergson has remained largely unanswered. Heidegger's brief discussion of Bergson in Being and Time is geared toward explaining why he fails in his attempts to think more radically about time. Despite this dismissal, a close look at Heidegger's early works dealing with temporality reveals a sustained engagement with Bergson's thought. In The Origin of Time, Heath Massey evaluates Heidegger's critique of Bergson and examines how Bergson's efforts to rethink time in terms of duration anticipate Heidegger's own interpretation of temporality. Massey demonstrates how Heidegger follows Bergson in seeking to uncover "primordial time" by disentangling temporality from spatiality, how he associates Bergson with the tradition of philosophy that covers up this phenomenon, and how he overlooks Bergson's ontological turn in Matter and Memory. Through close readings of early major works by both thinkers, Massey argues that Bergson is a much more radical thinker with respect to time than Heidegger allows.

Heath Massey is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Beloit College.