I understand that he was, in general, a positivist or realist thinker; however, I am confused when he begins to talk about time existing as two points (A and B) and its differences from a determinist's perspective of time as a mathematical property, or scientific paradox. Could someone help?
According to Bergson, there are two kinds of time, homogeneous and heterogeneous. The latter is the time of our experience, and is named by him 'la durée,' to which no English expression exactly corresponds. Homogeneous time, which is what we ordinarily mean when we use the word time, is, in his view, space, on to which the mind merely projects psychological time, the succession of our conscious states, thus making it appear to be a successive and continuous reality. In fact, it is nothing but an illusion for there is no true succession in things which are said to be measured by time, since one state has entirely disappeared when another appears. So he writes : ' Doubtless exterior things change, but their moments only succeed one another with respect to a consciousness which remembers them. We observe outside us, at any given moment, a collection of simultaneous positions ; nothing remains of the former simultaneities.' [Essai sur les donnes de la conscience, p. 173.]
Hence, the only time which is not illusory, and which he regards as real, is the heterogeneous time, or succession, which accompanies the development of our conscious states. Such development is purely qualitative, and its parts can only be qualitatively, never quantitatively, distinguished, so that they are absolutely heterogeneous; for it is clear that all our psychic acts are unextended — it is impossible to have a yard of thought — and so if distinct their distinction can be qualitative only.
There can be no question as to the subjective character of this theory; and to make of time an affection of our conscious states is to contradict completely the commonsense notion of it, which undoubtedly attaches it to bodies. What is more, it is only the permanent which changes, and the permanent endures: so that it is inconsistent to admit that things change and to deny their duration. Moreover, if time attaches only to our conscious states, each one of us will live in his own time, and there will be no unique sense in which two events can be said to be simultaneous. This, however, is to deny time, not to explain it, for the notion of time surely implies, at least, the possibility of comparing the position of two events in the world process. Without this capacity, it is altogether useless. Of the characteristics of time, as all men conceive it, viz. as measuring events, as having parts, past, present, and future, and as continuous, the only one which is, in the end, retained by this theory is the last, and that illegitimately; for Bergsonian time is, in fact, the series of irreducible different qualities, which, therefore, can never form a unity or continuity. Much more might be added in criticism of the theory, but these remarks may suffice to show that it is irreconcilable with commonsense, and inconsistent in itself; though highly ingenious, and devised with the best of intentions, viz. to rescue living things, and especially conscious processes from the grip of a deterministic mechanism.