Alex Peek blog

List of posts    Blog archive    About


Sunday, October 7, 2018

Henri Bergson and memory


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, Henry Manuel


Henri Bergson (1859-1941) was a French philosopher best known his his analysis of consciousness, time and intuition. Wikipedia says,


"Bergson is known for his arguments that processes of immediate experience and intuition are more significant than abstract rationalism and science for understanding reality." (Wikipedia: Henri Bergson, 8.19.21 UTC 19:44)


Wikipedia also says,


"Bergson attempted to redefine the modern conceptions of time, space, and causality in his concept of Duration, making room for a tangible marriage of free will with causality. Seeing Duration as a mobile and fluid concept, Bergson argued that one cannot understand Duration through 'immobile' analysis, but only through experimental first-person intuition." (Wikipedia: Henri Bergson, 8.19.21 UTC 19:44)


The rest of this post is some quotes from Bergson.


Memory and time


"I cannot escape the objection that there is no state of mind, however simple, that does not change every moment, since there is no consciousness without memory, and no continuation of a state without the addition, to the present feeling, of the memory of past moments." (An Introduction to Metaphysics, 1903)


"Without this survival of the past into the present there would be no duration, but only instantaneity." (An Introduction to Metaphysics, 1903)


"The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth, all sensation is already memory." (Matter and Memory, 1896)


"We seize, in the act of perception, something which outruns perception itself." (Matter and Memory, 1896)




"Intuition is a method of feeling one's way intellectually into the inner heart of a thing to locate what is unique and inexpressible in it." (Quoted in Flowers in the Desert by Georgia O'Keeffe, 2000)


"Intuition, bound up to a duration which is growth, perceives in it an uninterrupted continuity of unforeseeable novelty; it sees, it knows that the mind draws from itself more than it has, that spirituality consists in just that, and that reality, impregnated with spirit, is creation." (The Creative Mind: An Introduction to Metaphysics, 1934)




"The role of the body was thus to reproduce in action the life of the mind, to emphasize its motor articulations as the orchestra conductor does for a musical score; the brain did not have thinking as its function but that of hindering the thought from becoming lost in dream; it was the organ of attention to life." (The Creative Mind: An Introduction to Metaphysics, 1934)


"Men do not sufficiently realise that their future is in their own hands... the essential function of the universe, which is a machine for the making of gods." (The Two Sources of Morality and Religion, 1932)