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Henri Bergson Mind-Energy: Consciousness

9 Aug

I haven’t read any Bergson in awhile, so if anything I say in this post is wrong or misinterpreted please say so (you know how).  Bergson’s essay book Mind-Energy begins with the Life and Consciousness essay where he discusses the qualifications and characteristics of consciousness and the beings that have it. Naturally, when I read something I generate my own opinion about it whether it is for or against the author’s stance. Bergson had his opinions about what consciousness included, and they coincide with the definition of the word consciousness, even though he chose not to formally state it.

I want to state the qualifications of consciousness as stated by Bergson before discussing consciousness as a whole. “In like manner, consciousness in man is unquestionably connected with the brain: but it by no means follows that a brain is indispensable to consciousness” (Bergson).  Bergson states that consciousness coincides with a being having a brain of some shape or sort. “The faculty of choosing, at first localized in the brain, extends gradually to the spinal cord, which then, probably, constructs somewhat fewer mechanisms and also mounts them with less precision” (Bergson).  In this part of the essay Bergson makes the distinct boundary between brainless automatons and conscious choosing beings.  “…consciousness retains the past and anticipates the future, it is probably because it is called on to make a choice”(Bergson).  The previous quote leads Bergson to his conclusion that consciousness is the bridged gap between the recognized past and future. Also, he concludes that consciousness coincides with life. Bergson talks a lot about the brain and its components including the spinal cord to further elaborate upon his discussions about consciousness. I however am mostly interested in the main propositions about life and consciousness.

Concerning the proposition that consciousness coincides with a brain being present, I agree with Bergson in the fact that it would be an extremely rare situation where consciousness would exist in a being without a brain. Bergson goes to talk about parts of the brain especially the spinal cord that further make it known that consciousness could probably not exist without the being’s body having a brain. A brain is one generally accepted and known characteristics of conscious beings.

When he states that the conscious being has choice, he compares beings that are automatons (predestined without choice) and conscious beings that have choice.  Consciousness yields free choice. Automatons have no brain, and have no choice in their life.

The conscious being (stated by Bergson) almost always  coincides with life. The conscious being with the brain, also has life. The conscious being  must always have life. Finally, the consciousness is the recognizance of the being (and memory of) of the past and the future. All of these, and aforesaid things together make up the conscious being.

Concerning the characteristics of consciousness that the conscious being always has a brain, and that the being has recognition and memory of the past and future, I think they both are always true. There can never be a conscious being without a brain, or without recognition and memory of the past and future.  I elaborate so much upon the characteristics of consciousness because of the fact that the conscious being always having life, and the consciousness being dormant at times are specific in their truths and falsities.

First, the conscious being always having life is true only to some extent. Yet there cannot be a conscious being without life. There can however be life without consciousness.  There are beings without consciousness, and there are beings with dormant (Bergson’s term) or as I like to call it absent consciousness.  For example, there are plants such as the hibiscus. They have life and parts that function as a brain of the plantae purpose. The hibiscus however is not conscious. All fungi, protista, and monista are also not conscious of their surroundings and do not have memory or recognition of the world around them. From the plant phylum down to the monista there are no conscious beings because of the lack of brain parts, and the lack of recognition and memory of the past and future. The animal kingdom does however have beings that have life, a sufficient brain, and therefore consciousness.

The consciousness of the animal kingdom is difficult to distinguish because of the fact that many animals have limited consciousness. A fish sees a worm in the lake around it, grabs on, and gets hooked painfully in the mouth. He gets pulled up to the dock while the human grabs him, takes the hook off and lets him loose. The fish, after 10 minutes, forgets that the previous hooking ever happened, sees another worm with a suspicious shiny thing, and grabs on again. The fish has limited consciousness because of the fact that the past was only memorized and recognized for 10 minutes. Many other animals have this limited consciousness because of how the past and future are only recognized for awhile before their brain blackboard is erased. As the intelligence of animals goes on up to dogs, cats, bears and other mammals, the consciousness is much less limited. A dog being owned by an abuser gets horribly abused by the owner and gets rescued by the ASPCA, and one year later given to a loving caring owner. The dog would still be cautious and a little scared of his or her new owners because of the fact that the dog remembers someone of the same look having done something terrible to him or her. The consciousness is larger as the complexity of the animal goes up. There is little rhyme or reason to distinguish the less limited between the more limited, but it is easy to understand. Then humans have limited, to dormant/absent, to full consciousness depending upon the situation.

First, people who have mental disorders that cause problems in perception therefore cause problems in the memory and recognition of past and future. For example, if you have seen 50 First Dates with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, Adam Sandler meets this girl (Drew Barrymore) at this breakfast cafe in Hawaii where she eats breakfast and makes houses out of her waffles every day. After dating her, he understands that she was in a car accident where a part of her brain was damaged making her memory become erased every night when she goes to bed. Her dad and brother give her the same issue of the newspaper every day along with doing other things to make her think it is still the same day. She  lives one day, goes to bed, gets  up and thinks it the same day. She reads the same newspaper issue, and does the same thing every day to protect her from being confused. This mental disorder (among many others) causes her to have a very limited consciousness because she only remembers the past, and cannot recognize or remember the continuation of time or the future.

Also, consciousness becomes absent (dormant) when we go to sleep or lose consciousness (from drugs/alcohol or injury). When we have dreams we do not know or understand time. When we get up we do not know how long we were sleeping and we cannot remember well the dreams we had. The consciousness leaves for a time while we are sleeping or passed out.

Finally, I think that consciousness forever departs from us in the instance that we become ‘vegetables’ or people too sick to remain conscious, feed ourselves, or do other otherwise daily things. We cannot be conscious in this state because we cannot understand past and future nor can we have true recognition and memory of them.

I did this writing just because I understood and liked Bergson’s essay on life and consciousness and felt it necessary to state the characteristics of conscious beings to make the distinction.

Thanks for the support.

@Reply on Twitter, comment below, or email at for comments on if I stated anything wrong, or if you have any other opinions.

Henri Bergson’s The Two Sources: Against Nature’s Static Religion

3 Jun

Henri Bergson’s work The Two Sources of Morality and Religion concern just those things. Bergson sections off an area in the work for Static Religion. The big topic concerns the division between man and other animals and their difference. Man and animal have differences in intelligence that everyone knows about. We would not have the problems and dilemmas we have everyday unless we were intelligent (more so than inferior animals). Bergson relates this intelligence of ours to the religion we believe and the deity(ies) we worship. Think about the connection between intelligence and having religion before reading on. Then go on.

Like in the other statement of Bergson I last addressed in my last Bergson opinionated work, a paragraph in Bergson’s text begins and explains things (most likely premises) and an end italicized inference (conclusion). The preceding material in the paragraph is necessary what Bergson means down to the word to understand the whole proposition. Bergson begins the paragraph about static religion, talking about how the actions of man are often uncertain because of our superior intelligence. Bergson states that for an animal, instinct and habit provides their daily routine and solves all of their momentary problems. A man having superior intelligence has the ability to imagine all scenarios and apparently, man will expect the worst scenario, this causes the man’s future to be uncertain because he knows about how possible it is that his life could go awry. The paragraph preceding the inference explains this thought about intelligence and man’s state. Bergson uses these facts to define static religion:

It is a defensive reaction of nature against what might be depressing for the individual, and dissolvent for society, in the exercise of intelligence” (Bergson).

By it, Bergson means static religion, or just religion to make things as simple as possible. This quote states that nature reacts in a defensive way because of the things in this world. In life, things might get depressing because, in short, life sucks (sometimes, not all the time, as it is shown here). What is depressing to the individual? We can probably name about a billion things: bills, foreclosure, divorce, bankruptcy, death, illness….. Lets define dissolvency. If something is solvent, it dissolves throughout everything, and the thing it dissolves in is okay with it being there and it will cooperate with it. If something is dissolvent, it does not cooperate with the things around it. What is dissolvent for society? Drugs, gambling, alcoholism, crime etc…. These things only occur according to Bergson because man and men in society are intelligent and they try to perceive everything, and in this process, depressing things and dissolvent things come about just because they are known to exist. Because of these intelligences, Bergson says that nature creates a defense against these depressive things and dissolvencies.  This defensive tactic that nature creates, involves itself in the lives of men and society making it feel better and secure about the bad things that can/will occur to them in their lifetime. If intelligence were not here, this would not even be needed, but men are intelligent and see all scenarios of their possible existence, and it scares them. Bergson says that nature uses religion or static religion as this defense mechanism to make man feel secure about the bad possibilities of existence.

Bergson saying that nature creates this defense in religion, creates a lot of room for argument. With this proposition, he states the following:

  • God does not exist, but rather nature controls the equilibrium of the universe and its life.
  • None of the current religions are truthful.
  • Bad bad things will happen to people on this earth and beyond.
  • There is no known purpose for the universe.
  • There is no known creator of the creatum.

The fact that nature is the entity/deity (maybe?) casting any defense to stabilize something, states that God does not exist. If God exists, nature is not a real living thing itself, just the living things God created. If nature is the thing casting any form of defense, the current religions it casts as defense  are all false. Also, people are doomed to bad bad results according to this statement. Nature, the possible deity that controls things, would be misleading its living things, because, the intelligence of the man causes him to rightly concern himself with the worst case scenarios that will likely happen to them. Nature using religion to disguise these truths is not something I can fathom. If these things are so, there is no purpose for existence of the man and living things. If there is a misleading, natura god that pretty much directs you to perish, there is no purpose for the life of the man. Because of there being no purpose, there cannot have been a creator either, and if there is not creator, there is no existence, unless that existence is a supreme deity, which in this case there is none. So there is no purpose, therefore no creator, therefore there cannot be any possibility for anything to exist in this small statement by Bergson. Bergson is wrong in this proposition.

I want to explain the way things really are before blatantly rejecting Bergson’ s statement here. One thing I love about Henri Bergson’s philosophy is that his ideas are outside of the box and I have to over explain myself to even understand why I do not agree with a certain statement of his. The world today, in real life, is created, run, loved, and caused by God. God does everything.  I reject this proposition because each stipulation that goes with this statement of Bergson’s goes against the possibilities of the way things are. We live here and serve a purpose to serve, love, and converse with God. We live here for Him. We will soon go to either heaven or hell based on our commitment to God. I use the word creatum a lot in my work because it represents all of the things created. I feel it works well because, the creatum and the creator are different entities and should be explained differently. I explain more about this in my work about Spinoza and Godly substance monism. I take the word creatum from use of it while arguing Spinoza’s position. If this statement of Bergson were true, only the creatum would exist, and this would be like Spinoza’s attribute existing without the existence of a substance: not possible. Nature is a part of the creatum. In reality, God created nature and nature does not control anything itself. Nature is just a largely categorized group of living things. Therefore, nature could not have done anything (could not have casted any defense).

Before I felt the need to explain the conditions Bergson states to exist in this proposition, before I wanted to explain what was suspectedly occurring. Placing aside the fact that nature could not cast any kind of defense because it is creatum and placing aside the fact that this defense would lead the man to doom, what is this religion that nature is supposedly passing?

Lets define religion (again aside from all of the previous things that disqualify Bergson’s statement from truth): The state of a religious commitment, or the devotion to a religious faith or observance. Nature is here using a falsity as a defense. This falsity is false because, it is not possible that this religion is true (like the reality one). The religion created as a defense to depression and dissolvency is a false truth that will lead the man to doom. This religion, regardless of its truth, causes a man to confide in it and trust it with his life. The man will practice it and adhere to it in his life as much as he can because he feels that it is the only way he can prevent himself from having bad things happen to him. When the man dies and suffers eternally, his trust is violated just because nature wanted to stabilize things for awhile. In Bergson’s statement, man would be continuously violated in his trust because of a false deity. Thank God, our god is not a part of the creatum and protects our lives.

Rejecting Bergson’s statement here, makes me thank God more and more that he will not violate our trust, let us have eternal hardships, or let us suffer eternally. Our God stays with us all the time making sure we are okay and are helped from our necessary hardships.

I feel that I want to again present Bergson’s proposition here logically. I want to show how Bergson is wrong in a few logical sentences of contradiction.

∀x(Nx –> ~Px)

In all existence, nature is not controlling.

∀x(Rx –> Tx)

In all existence, religion causes full trust.


In all existence, God exists and is all powerful.


In all existence, intelligence causes fear.

∀xRx(Fx –> ~Ex)

In all religion, fake ones do not cause equilibrium in nature and universe.

When religion is created and employed upon a certain number of people, it may have a certain power that causes people to believe in it and trust its deities.  Religion has an overpowering power of trust that could kill an elephant if it was poison. Religion should only be used for comfort, conversation with God, inspiration, spiritual involvement and other things when a true God is behind it. Without this true God, the religion is an empty shell that will have everlasting horrible effects on those that exit the religion. Because of this, Bergson is so wrong, because nothing (no existence) could just throw religion around to fit a situation for awhile just to stabilize some things. Once the religion blew over, it would have everlasting detrimental effects to the living men there and equilibrium and stability would no longer be a problem because of how bad things would be imbalanced.  Religion and its power should not be messed with.  Religion messes men up every day where they die after worshiping the wrong deity and practicing the wrong religion their whole lives and ending up in hell for eternity. That is the best example of the power of religion and its everlasting detrimental results, regardless of who uses religion loosely, it is wrong that it can be used so in any fashion.

As I explained before, it is also not possible that nature did the religion throwing and how it would stabilize things at all (it may stabilize the world for awhile, but once men find out the religion is an empty shell, there will be a forever imbalance in the world).

Bergson was right about one thing: intelligence causes men to know every possible scenario causing them to expect the worse scenario causing paranoidal depression and dissolvency. But the religion that is not empty, but has a true large and powerful deity is the religion that is not used as a defense tactic, but it is used as a device to save and comfort those who want the safety and comfort. This religion will save you from all worst case scenarios and it will help you get through the hard times here on earth. No member of the religion will find out that the religion is an empty case and end up in demise.

I think Bergson was inferring that religion is always an empty box and no deity ever shows up in this statement, but I immediately shoot down this opinion and show why the empty religious fake is so detrimental.

Bergson’s statement here, is just one thing that says that intelligence causes fear that something will have to cover, but in it, it packs so much inferences and conclusions that need to be addressed. It packs the thought that intelligence causes fear, that nature uses religion whenever it wants, it shows that God does not exist to sit behind religious environments, it shows that society and man needs to be balanced, it shows that no God exists, it shows that nature is the smallest possible controlling thing that exists, and on………… I believe I addressed all of them in different ways.

Comment below if you would like  on what you think about Bergson’s statement on static religion in the Two Sources. Comment below and I will respond in address to your thoughts.

Henri Bergson’s Matter and Memory: Law of Masters

2 Jun

I call this law the law of masters because it says that one thing is the master of another. I do not think that this is universally called the Law of Masters, but in the essay, there is little else it is identified as. If there is something that this law is universally called (will state it below) please say so in the comments and I will change the title of this post. I just read this part of Bergson’s essay of Matter and Memory and saw this italicized proclamation.

“Perception is master of space in the exact measure in which action is master of time.” (Bergson)

I feel that declaring that perception is master of space is the main proclamation but I think the fact that action is master of time is also introduced when it is compared with perception mastering space. 2 philosophical things are to be argued from this law in Matter and Memory. As I do in most of my work I like to thoroughly explain what each statement means and argue for or against each statement.

There is a paragraph that Bergson writes that leads up to this law. I would like to explain his pre-statements to fully understand his justification for the law.

First, the beginning sentence states that “the degree of independence of which a living being is master allows then of an a priori estimate of the number and the distance of the things with which it is in relation” (Bergson). I took out an alternate definition Bergson uses:  “the zone of indetermination which surrounds its activity” (Bergson). I took this out because I feel it confuses the reader. 2 explanations to think about and relate to the condition he explains I feel is too much to do for my purposes right now. Now lets analyze this first sentence. If something is independent to a certain degree of the thing it masters, the amount of independence allows an ‘a priori’ estimate of the number and distance of the relation of the master and the mastered.  A things independence of the thing it masters creates an ‘a priori’ estimation of number and distance of the master and the mastered. So if a master has independence of what it masters an a priori estimation of the number and distance between the master and the mastered. I just stated those things because I wanted to break down into understandable terms the first sentence. What is a priori? A priori in Kant and others is knowledge and/or perception of things before the fact/ before something comes into existence/before something happens. So, if a master has independence, it has pre-existential/pre-occurence knowledge about the number and distance between the master and the mastered. This shows that the master has a lot more knowledge and power over what is mastered.

“Whatever this relation may be, we can affirm that its amplitude gives the exact measure of the indetermination of the act which is to follow” (Bergson). The first part of the sentence states that there is a relation between the master and the mastered (as shown in the first sentence). Lets define amplitude in this case. I find 4 definitions of the word amplitude but I feel this one matches our situation the best: the extent or range of a quality, property, process, or phenomenon. Amplitude is the range of phenomenon I think in this case.  The relation between the master and the mastered, has the condition where its range of phenomenon gives the measure of indetermination of the act that follows. This just states that the relation between the master and the mastered allows one to know a lot about the act that will follow in the relation between the master and mastered.

Bergson states that the above 2 statements allows us to follow that: perception is master of space in the extent measure in which action is master of time (Bergson). Perception is the master of space just like action is the master of time. I would like to relate each of the masteries to the above 2 statements that allowed Bergson to infer the law of masters (as I call it). The degree of independence of perception from space allows perception to have an a priori estimate of the number and distance between itself (perception) and its mastered item space. Because Bergson inferred this law from the first 2 sentences, he declares that perception is independent, consistent of a priori knowledge, and masterful. Also, perception relating to space is able to affirm that the range of phenomenon in perception and space gives the exact measure of indetermination of the actions to follow in the perception (also space, but this need not be said because perception’s actions correlates with space’s actions). Because of these things, it is for sure by Bergson that perception is the master of time.

Action’s independence of time allows action to have an a priori knowledge of the estimate of the number and distance between action and time. The relation between action and time allows us to affirm that the range of phenomenon gives the exact measure of the indetermination of the act that follows in action (also in time, but again, the actions in action correlate directly with the actions in time due to their relation).

Because of these things, it is inferred by Bergson that perception is the master of space just like action is the master of time. Action/time is used as a comparison with perception and space. Perception and space might be the main thing Bergson states in this law, but I think in the comparison, he states that action is the master of time and it is just as important as perception and space.

Think about what it means for something to master another. If mastery is not familiar, it should be looked up because the mastery of one thing over another is the heart of Bergson’s law/argument. If one thing masters another, it governs its actions. If one thing masters another, it can represent the mastered all by itself without the need of the mastered. If something masters another, the master is independent of the mastered.  The mastered is dependent on the thing it is mastered by. Mastered in this situation can be thought of as subjugated, outsmarted, held hostage, conquered, learned totally,  supervised, defeated,….etc. Could go on and on. If the idea of something mastering another is not clear, please say so. I want everything to be clear and understandable before positions on Bergson’s law are argued.

I want to have the correct tactics in explaining a philosopher’s justifications for a proposition and arguing why one would think either argument, along with clearly explaining my position in this cosmos. I wanted to go beyond my usual topics lately to test my tactics at explanation and argumentation. If you have suggestions and criticisms, say so in comments below. Please by frank and critical.

Going on with Bergson’s mastery law. Lets deal with the first part of his law: perception is master of space. What is perception? What we perceive is our world. Perception is what we see, how we interpret the world around us, and our placement of opinions about the world. What is space? Space is the physical world with or without things in it. It can be concluded that Bergson thought that perception governs how we see space, therefore perception masters space. I think that this law can be related to neutral monism and solipsism because according to Bergson, our own perceptions created by the self/soul govern the nature of space (the things and spaces around us). Neutral monism states that the world is created from the self and the material of the world comes from the self/soul because the self perceives the world. To neutral monism, the only thing that matters is the self’s perception of the world. The perception that the self creates is our only way of knowing anything. We cannot know anything about the physical space without our own perceptions according to Bergson and neutral monists (solipsists too). Because perception governs how we see everything around us, space cannot be understood or seen without perception, therefore according to Bergson, perception masters space (Bergson’s/neutral monists/solipsists position only, not mine).

Action masters time. Time might be thought of as a governing item, but what happens in time masters it according to Bergson. Because action happens so frequently, time shows relation in occurrences.  Actions occur so frequently and are more important than the relations between when they happen. Because, according to Bergson, action has more importance, involvedness, and relevance than time does, therefore action masters time.

Based on explanations of perception mastering space, and action mastering time, if you want, comment below on one or both things and if you think Bergson is right or wrong.

On Bergson’s statement that perception masters space, I strongly disagree with Bergson. A little bit back in this work, where I correlated this thought with neutral monism and solipsism, I still feel this thought is close to those things. Neutral monism and solipsism think that the self is the only means for perception and creation of the world (space). I disagree with neutral monism and solipsism whole heartedly, and this first part of Bergson’s mastery law correlates directly with these things, therefore I strongly disagree with the fact that perception masters space. I do not think perception masters anything. Perception is only our sight, interpretation and slim understanding of the world around us. Perception is the only small possible way we can understand anything. Many many things lie outside our possibility of perception. Perception cannot possibly perceive all that exists and goes on in the cosmos, therefore perception is not worth much. There are many things we cannot understand and perception is our only means of understanding the world. If perception is not worth much and cannot allow us to understand all that exists, perception masters nothing. God is infinitely enormous in his size, power, thought and creation powers. Compared to God, our minds are infinitely small and useless. We cannot go beyond regular perception to understand the world unless we have gone to heaven. Philosophy only correlates to things on this world, therefore perception is all we have. Perception cannot perceive the works, love and existence (knowledge too) of God, therefore perception cannot master anything and sure does not master space.

If perception does not master space, what then masters space? God masters space. God created space and all in it. I believe in Godly Spinozistic substance monism where God is the only substance of creation in the universe. God created space not the self.

On the statement by Bergson that action masters time, I agree with Bergson. I have some apprehensions to whole heartedly agreeing with this thought, but for my understanding at this moment, I believe that action masters time. I want to first talk about what I think time is in this world. Time to God is basically nothing. Time that is long to us, is infinitely small to God. Time is only a device for referring to when things happen. Everything exists, and time is not a necessary thing to explain everything and its existences. Time is just a device for understand the phenomenon of when. If nothing ever happened, time would not be necessary. For example, the Precambrian time as referred to in geology is a time where everything began to evolve from cyanobacteria and very very little happened in this time. The Precambrian time covers a long long long time in history with little divisions in it. This time is so long because very little happened in it. If a lot happened in evolution and geology, it would be divided down to the epoch just like the Phanerozoic era. Because nothing really happened in the Precambrian time, time was not really necessary to divide much up. If nothing happens, time is not necessary to define when each action happens. If tons of things happen in one small time period, time is infinitely necessary to explain the occurrence of events and divide up each time in between big occurrences. I believe then, action masters time. Action happens in this world and a when is necessary to fully explain the action (why,where, how it happened). If an action did not happen, a when would not be necessary to explain anything because nothing would need to be explained. Because of all this, I feel that action fully masters time because time would not be necessary unless action of some kind existed.

I feel that the big part of Bergson’s argument here is wrong, but his comparison to his big argument is the thing that is correct. For more information or if you have questions, comment below, direct message on twitter, or email me at