Times Higher Education:1 - 2 (2000)

Ray Scott Percival
London School of Economics
Henri Bergson is perhaps most remembered for his bold challenge to Einstein's theory of the relativity of simultaneity. Bergson maintained that Einstein's theory did not cope with our intuition of time, which is an intuition of duration. Einstein retorted that there may be psychological time, but there is no special philosopher's time. For Einstein, time forms the fourth dimension of a so-called Parmenidean "block universe". I argue that we must be on our guard not to read into the work of even greatest intellectual predecessors ideas and levels of sophistication that we take for granted in modern theories. For example, it would be silly to suggest that Democritus's atomic theory - though important in the development of the testable modern atomic theory - has anything new to say about modern quantum theory.
Keywords Henri Bergson  Einstein v Bergson  Time and duration  Simultaneity  Psychological time
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