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Henri Bergson’s Economic Concept of Time Essay


To the best of my understanding, the preciseness of time has been a helpful factor in the understanding of the accuracy and correctness of historical and scientific findings. Henri Bergson described time as a device that keeps everything from happening together at the same instant by exploring the inner life of mankind, which he calls duration. Duration, according to Bergson, is juxtaposed and can be converted into a sequence of distinguishable parts, one following the other, and caused, therefore, by one another. There should not be anything in a particular duration that may be the determiner of something within that duration, and one must accept time by stationing oneself within a certain duration where freedom may be distinguished and experienced (Ekelund and Hebert, 333). The significance of Bergson’s profound statement on time spans across several academic disciplines and has an impressive effect on most of them.

For the work of Alfred Marshall, who defined economics as the field of study that examines mankind in his ordinary business of life, Bergson’s statement implies a lot. Although Marshall desired to better the mathematical cogency of economics and metamorphose it into a scientific profession to a greater extent, he wanted mathematics not to shadow economics because it might make economics irrelevant to laymen. Marshall extended economics from its very classical focus on the market run economy and generalized the field as a study of human behavior relating to both individuals and nations.

In classical economics, everything seemed perfectly fine at optimum levels in the long run – a view that did not go well for the neo classicalists. Marshall’s work helped highlight durations for market functioning behaviors as time was divided into short, medium, and long-run so that nothing within the short run caused a movement in the market demand and supply within the short run itself. A similar analysis can be held for medium and long run durations. Although the understanding of time (as proposed by Bergson) negates the conceptions brought forth by the physical sciences and mathematics, it conforms to the political, social, and economic purposes of time, ex post facto.

One of the hallmarks of American Institutionalism is based on psychology and cognitive sciences, rather than simple assumptions of the behavior of economic agents. With a focus on the development of the sociological view of institutions as it affects the individual and national output, rationality is a central concept to any analysis presented by American Institutionalism. The timing of an action or the duration of occurrence of an event affects the way institutions interact and affect their society of domicile. Rationality is itself bounded by the amount of time it takes economic agents to make decisions. This relationship emphasizes the very important fact that economics may not be detached from the social and political system within which it is born and bred.

In conclusion, there is so much to be said on time and the effect it has on our every day lives to depend on it. During his time, Henri Bergson made a profound finding that negates the conceptions of mathematics and the physical sciences of the early twentieth century. Today, we understand time as a device that prevents all things from happening at once, as he postulated. His statement has implications in several academic disciplines, including the economic sciences, from Alfred Marshall’s time period (duration) concept to the American Institutionalism’s bounded rationality.

Works Cited

Ekelund, Robert and Hébert, Robert. A History of Economic Theory and Method. Waveland Press, 2007. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2020, May 29). Henri Bergson's Economic Concept of Time. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/henri-bergsons-economic-concept-of-time/

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"Henri Bergson's Economic Concept of Time." IvyPanda, 29 May 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/henri-bergsons-economic-concept-of-time/.

1. IvyPanda. "Henri Bergson's Economic Concept of Time." May 29, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/henri-bergsons-economic-concept-of-time/.


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IvyPanda. "Henri Bergson's Economic Concept of Time." May 29, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/henri-bergsons-economic-concept-of-time/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Henri Bergson's Economic Concept of Time." May 29, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/henri-bergsons-economic-concept-of-time/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Henri Bergson's Economic Concept of Time'. 29 May.

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