“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”
–Alfred North Whitehead

A Drunk History of Time: The Einstein, Bergson, Whitehead Debates

Is the flow of time a “stubbornly persistent illusion,” a mere psychological mirage, as Albert Einstein held? Or is it the very essence of all psychical life and material things alike, as Henri Bergson argued? Might there be an equally scientific rendering of relativity that does not force us to deny our lived experience, as Alfred North Whitehead preferred? Whose time is it? Join us for this drunk history lesson about the epochal clash between these three geniuses to find out.

*Errata: At 30:29, I misspoke: Einstein’s train thought experiment is, of course, in reference to the special, not the general theory of relativity. But Einstein first articulates it in a text meant for the general public that summarizes both theories. At 34:08, I misspoke again: Of course, since 2014, Russia has claimed Crimea as its own.



3 responses to “A Drunk History of Time: The Einstein, Bergson, Whitehead Debates”

  1. nochesdad Avatar

    Brilliant! Matt–Bravo. That was the best presentation of some of the consternations the great minds of the early 20th Century were grappling with. I think it is very important to go through the detail that you present about that period. Further, I think that your presentation here is a solid step in our attempt to come to grasp just what happened to human thought during this period. Particularly, the way in which the thinkers of that time slowed down and considered just what time is, what space is, and with depth psychologists, just what the unconscious is. I liked your presentation of Whitehead’s take on Einstein’s theories and how it relates to “common sense”. I love the way you present Whitehead’s thought. Your description of how he was thinking of “common sense” has given me a better grasp of where he was coming from. I hear that Whitehead was saying that human ”common sense’ is more aligned with the process of the reality all humans experience. Further, as I hear it now, Whitehead wanted to shift the focus on science to the task of helping us to understand “common sense” in a scientific way. Thank you. Please keep up these presentations. I think your use of current technology is important as we move forward with education and human cultural evolution. Also, as an astrologer, I appreciate your attempt to bring the astrology into the discussion; but you just gave a taste for those not familiar with astrology. I think that this is the best way to bring it into the more broad scientific discussion going forward.

    1. Matthew David Segall Avatar

      Thanks! The aspects I was trying to point out were Einstein’s natal ME-SA conjunction and the exact ME-SA square on the day of the eclipse. This is suggestive of the precise measurement required to confirm his prediction.

      1. nochesdad Avatar

        Since you gave me an open path I want to delve more closely on the synastry chart of the full moon chart of 29 May 1919, Einstein’s natal chart of 14 March 1879 and the current alignments while you were doing the current podcast 3 April 2021. First of all I want to dwell on your note about this full moon was occurring right at Einstein’s Uranus Opposition. This is the alignment which psychologists refer to as the mid-life transition or by the vernacular “mid-life crisis”. It is fascinating that this event of the full moon occurred at Einstein’s Uranus Opposition because it was really, in a sense. a “mid-life crisis” for the modern scientific zeitgeist. This full moon scientific experiment which validated Einstein’s theories of space and time actually shifted science away from the “Newtononian” scientific paradigm to the modern paradigm. I would put forth that our zeitgeist has not full adjusted to the ramifications of what occurred during that full moon on 29 May 1919. Furthermore, as you pointed out it was actually an eclipse of the Sun. Truly symbolizing the epic nature of the moment. Eclipses have been symbolized since humans became conscious of eclipses as an omen of huge transition from one reality into another reality. Eclipses were many times an omen about the death of the king or some other similar symbol. Another significant aspect of the Uranus Opposition Einstein was experiencing at that exact moment is that Einstein was born with Uranus within a three degree conjunct to the fixed star Regulus. Regulus is one of the four Royal stars ancient astrologers/astronomers identified as the most significant 4 stars in the sky. Therefore, the eclipse of 29 May 1919 was actually making a T-square alignment with Einstein’s Uranus Opposition making to square to Regulus. Subsequently, the eclipse was also within 2 degrees conjunction to the Royal Star Aldeberan. As you noted on 29 May 1919 Mercury was square to Saturn which triggered Einstein’s natal Mercury Saturn almost exact conjunction. Mercury signifying communication to the cosmos and Saturn signifying putting the communication to be transferred becoming something solid and structured. Indeed, the significance of that day is only gradually being absorbed by the global zeitgeist in a way that could be described as gradual increasing collapses of the scientific wave function. Furthermore, the current transits of the moon’s nodes are that the south node of the moon is having a nodal opposition to where the north node of the moon was located 29 May 1919 signifying the transmission of your podcast to the world. I think that the significance of astrology is also gradually re-emerging into the zeitgeist. Astrology fits snugly into the Einstein/Whitehead/Berson discussion.

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