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Process Studies

Volume 49, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 2020

John Meechan
Pages 79-114

Rhythms and Drives
Quantal Ontology in Bergson's and Nietzsche's Naturalism

In this article, I draw attention to some important points of intersection in the work of Henri Bergson and Friedrich Nietzsche. In particular I focus on the overlapping nature of their naturalisms. This proves enlightening for an overall appreciation of their respective philosophical projects but also allows those projects to be inscribed within a broader set of naturalistic traditions to which I think they contribute in interesting ways. I begin by assessing how Bergson's and Nietzsche's general problematics are shaped by the antinaturalistic character of their targets, more specifically the appeals to the immobile and the unconditional that they expose in their critical approaches. I move on to examine the core components of their naturalistic responses, highlighting how both thinkers extend introspective insights about the psyche and the body to make claims regarding broader activity patterns across nature and ground these new monistic continua in their concepts of rhythms (Bergson) and drives (Nietzsche). Lastly; I draw out three important consequences on which these moves jointly converge, with particular emphasis on the “quantal” nature of the ontologies they outline. Moving beyond the comparative perspective, I conclude by using these points to situate Bergson and Nietzsche among three different lineages of naturalism: metaphysical antireductionist, and Epicurean.

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