“De ce qu’un term est solidaire d’un autre terme, il ne suit pas qu’il y ait équivalence entre les deux.” Henri Bergson, L’évolution créatrice, Quadrige/PUF Grands Textes, 2006, p. 354.
(amateuristic English translation [this is impossibly hard, by the way]: “When one term cannot move without the other also moving, this does not establish the two are equivalent.”)
One could go overboard in analyzing this quote (and hence in trying to translate this). It’s what I really would like to be doing tomorrow. But I won’t be doing it tomorrow because life hasn’t dealt me with that specific deck of cards (not that I have been dealt a bad deck of cards, far from it).
So let me get as far as I can get today.
I intentionally left out the context which is, basically, an argument against any an identity theory of mind. I think he is right in this but that is only interesting for the increasingly many idiots that believe in such a theory (and ‘believe’ is the only word that does justice to the idiocy of such a theory). The interesting part is: the way in which he gets it right.
It is not even so much the common mistake of mistaking covariance for identity and causation for correlation, but the clarity in pinpointing the difference between ‘solidarity’ and ‘equivalence’.
Let me go mathematical. It is perfectly possible to do lots of things with integers. In fact, there is an infinite amount of things that one can do with integers. Seen from the angle of finite beings, there isn’t much more that one can do with the real numbers. It isn’t too difficult to make even a limited number of integers covary in a well designed model of reality with something that we intuitively understand as continuous (and therefore by definition as non-binary). It is what we do in computers. It is what every day is shown to be able to be done well and being done better and better.
It is easy to short-cut from here to an idealized state or being that would be able to do it perfectly and thereby establish that there really is nothing that can be really left to the imagination. It is easy to draw the usual suspect conclusions of determinism, fatalism and so on.
But it is wrong: even if there is no limit to the perfectability of predictions based on truncating real life, there still is the gap between the truncation and reality. This gap is not a mere measurement error. In fact, it is everything but that. It is a qualitative difference (as they say): there is a radical unpredictability in real life and that unpredictability is, exactly, what makes life real.
Mysticism does not start in realizing things are this way. Starting to believe things really are a different, & predictable, way is the origin of mysticism. Because if it is ‘out there’, it is to be had and we can ‘connect’ with it. Whilst if it is not out there, it cannot be had – not by God and not by man – and there is no purpose in going there.
This thought is based on a paper from, I think, Church which I keep promising myself to find.
[I really should not publish this now, but it has been a while and really I need to get something out for my own peace of mind.]
I leave you with this unexplored thought: “If one could explain how ‘if … then’ functions, then one explains all that can be explained.” Counterfactual or not?
[Whilst writing this I was listening to “Neve” a jazz program you can listen to by launching the media player at klara.be, and selecting ‘Neve’ in the tab ‘Net Gemist’]