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Becoming and Continuity in Bergson, Whitehead and Zeno

Keith Alan Robinson

Although both Bergson and Whitehead respond to Zeno in their mature works they take opposing paths.  For Whitehead Zeno’s paradoxes are formative for his own conception of time and process such that there can only be, as he says, a «becoming of continuity»1. For Bergson, by contrast, Zeno’s paradoxes are ‘false problems’ because essentially they rely upon a spatialized conception of time that covers over the “continuity of becoming”. In this paper I will use Whitehead’s and Bergson’s contrasting approaches to Zeno to bring out their differing conceptions of time and process. The focus on Zeno will enable us to present a sharp contrast between their respective conceptions of becoming so that they can be viewed as inversions of each other.  In the final section I will briefly compare Bergson’s and Whitehead’s methods insofar as these are related to their conceptions of time and their shared effort to “rethink the philosophy of absolute immanence”, as the editors of this special issue put it. 

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