In this paper, I evaluate the work of two contemporary cosmologists, Julian Barbour and Lee Smolin, through the lens of Henri Bergson’s metaphysics of time. Barbour and Smolin center their cosmological systems on their respective philosophical conceptions of time: for Barbour, time is a human illusion that must be eradicated from cosmology; for Smolin, time must be considered a reality of the universe, a force of change that underlies our everyday observations and which not even the laws of physics can escape. Both systems, however, run into dead ends. Barbour cannot escape dealing with observed movement and change and ultimately restricts them to the human brain, where these phenomena are left unexplained; Smolin posits the need for a meta-law that would account for why temporal phenomena unfold as they do, but fails to provide such a law. As I will show, Bergson’s original take on the problem of time has a lot to offer to both sides of the debate. On Barbour’s side, it provides compelling arguments against the latter’s eradication of time, which, if accepted, would invalidate the philosophical assumptions behind his cosmology; on Smolin’s side, Bergson sidetracks the “meta-law” problem and offers a deeper understanding of time than the one presented by Smolin, putting forth a consistent philosophical theory of time which, as I will show, is missing from the latter’s work. Ultimately, my aim is to illustrate, through Bergson’s work, how, without the aid of philosophy, cosmology is likely to keep running into such dead ends.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 65,740
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Immanent Maternal: Figures of Time in Aristotle, Bergson and Irigaray.R. Hill - 2019 - In Emanuela Bianchi, Sara Brill & Brooke Holmes (eds.), Antiquities Beyond Humanism. Oxford University Press. pp. 271-286.
Dialectic of Duration.Gaston Bachelard - 2000 - Clinamen PressLtd.
Time and Value.Irwin C. Lieb - 1990 - Review of Metaphysics 43 (3):475 - 494.
Remarks on the Theory of Relativity.Henri Bergson & Heath Massey - 2020 - Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy 28 (1):167-172.
Epochal Time and the Continuity of Experience.James W. Felt - 2002 - Review of Metaphysics 56 (1):19 - 36.
Henri Bergson.Vladimir Jankelevitch - 2015 - Duke University Press.


Added to PP index

Total views

Recent downloads (6 months)

How can I increase my downloads?


Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

My notes