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Tuesday April 30th 2019Tim Candler9


    Henri Bergson didn't like the idea of concepts. They had their place, but once annunciated a concept, or mental representation, became static. Indeed intellect couldn't really see the world in real time, it could only see the world in the way that a camera sees the world. He suggested that our relationship with the world was constantly moving, but because our intellect produced static understandings, through mental representation, our intellect, while incredibly useful, had limitations. He suggested that to better understand what happens in our mind, you'd do better to think in terms of what he called Duration, which he'd readily admit was itself concept. Duration was a flux or a becoming. It wasn't something that couldn't be reversed, it was always "straining toward the future," it was continually creating newness, which meant it was basically unpredictable, it could never be communicated by concepts, and it was the "inexhaustible source of freedom." Duration wasn't something that could be shared or given, but the nature of it was available to person through "intellectual auscultation." Auscultation is what doctors do with a stethoscope when they examine a person's body. So, I'd argue that what Bergson was saying is that results of science are wonderful, very useful, couldn't get by without them, but the reality of being in the world is something we know intuitively and not as a result of a logical, mechanistic, step by step progress toward a conclusion. In short we people can see an arrow flying through the sky, but science can't, it can only conceptualize an  arrow flying through the sky by describing a series of points, and at each point the arrow is motionless.



       Bergson was concerned with metaphysics, which despite all it's various nuances in the language, would have been defined by Bergson as examining the nature of reality, the relationship between mind and matter, what stuff is and how it can be described, and the relationship between what facts are and what value is. And he was one of those rare Philosophers who wrote a best selling book which is still occasionally published called Creative Evolution, in which he tore down an edifice that had been built around Darwin which proposed that the mind could be explored almost entirely in terms of evolution, the passing along and multiplying of successful genes and attributes. In their place Bergson proposed a metaphysics of evolution based upon his notion of Duration. Without concepts this was much easier said than done, and generally his work Creative Evolution contains many unverifiable mysteries wrapped in wonderful language that highly pissed off the Analytical Philosophers many of whom were sympathetic to Duration but because they could find nothing concrete or static kind of shrugged it off as an interesting digression. Bergson's point was that his metaphysics does not oppose science, rather it complements science. William James who was all about pragmatism greatly approved of Bergson's thinking. Bertrand Russell disapproved of anything that suggested a drift away from the empirical approach in Philosophy. One thing's for sure in the philosophy of Bergson, he saw no end point, no finality. Duration as motion is uncertain and unpredictable. Several of the notions in Quantum Physics say pretty much the same thing. I read somewhere that Heisenberg, one of the key figures in Quantum Physics, defended Bergson against Einstein's dismissal of Bergson's Duration as an understanding of time. So who really knows about the mind Visions and Mystics and Prophets.



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