Category Archives: Bergson

L’élan vital

“Le mécanisme reprochera donc avec raison au finalisme son caractère anthropomorphique. Mais il ne s’aperçoit pas qu’il procède lui-même selon cette méthode, en la tronquant simplement. Sans doute il a fait table rase de la fin poursuivie ou du modèle idéal. Mais il veut, lui aussi, que la nature ait travaillé comme l’ouvrier humain, en assemblant des parties. (..)”,
H. Bergson, L’évolution créatrice, p. 90, Quadrige, Grands Texts, 1941.

[Amateuristic English translation below: “Mechanistic thought will, rightly, attack final causes for its antropomorphic character. But it doesn’t recognize that it proceeds following this same method, simply by leaving out a final cause. Without any doubt it makes tabula rasa with the objective sought after or with ideal models. But it wants, it as well, that nature works like the human worker, putting together piece parts.”

[Re-posted from The Old Site, original dd. 20-11-2009. This should be good.]

Going hard-core again. I apologize to those unwilling to dive deeply. It’s a ‘slippery slope’-mission which I’m about to embark upon. Nobody will be willing to wave the mechanistic flag but many will be willing to put anything – even remotely – Bergsonian out with the garbage of extraterrestrial, supernatural, or, extrasensory entities, or, beings, or causes. But, much worse than that (and here stoppeth the usual disclaimers because these religious bastards just won’t socially darwinize themselves into oblivion rapidly enough): the nut crew is all too happy to claim anything, knowing their own claims to be ludicrous.

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L’existence et le néant

“Si l’on passe (consciemment ou inconsciemment) par l’idée du néant pour arriver a celle de l’être, l’être auquel on aboutit est une essence logique ou mathématique, partant intemporelle. Et, dès lors, une conception statique du réel s’impose: tout paraît donné en une seule fois, dans l’éternité.” L’évolution créatrice, Henri Bergson, Quadrige/PUF, 1941, p. 298.

“La négation diffère donc de l’affirmation proprement dite en ce qu’elle est une affirmation du second degré: elle affirme quelque chose d’une affirmation qui, elle, affirme quelque chose d’un objet.” ibid., p. 288.

[Re-posted from The Old Site, original dd. 30/03/08 – this actually is a crucial and important one, but I won’t have the time to correct it with justice. Too bad, another time – on request maybe.]

(amateuristic English translations:

“When we pass (consciously or inconscuously) from the idea of nothing to that of being, the being we end up with is a logical or mathematical essence, and therefore timeless. And, from that point onwards, a static conception of reality imposes itself: everything appears given at once, for eternity.”


“Negation thus differs from what is properly called a positive assertion in that it’s an assertion of the second degree: it asserts something of an assertion that, it, asserts something of an object.”)

Things esoteric and spiritual cannot be farther removed from my grasp of reality. However, I admit (quite reluctantly) that I am attracted to the relation between pure logic/mathematics (also unavoidable in linguistics) and our dirty everyday real world, specifically because of the mystery that still persists in it. It should then not be a surprise to see here a quought on where logic and reality come apart, not in the spirit of providing evidence for a ‘something more’ but rather in the thriving tradition of meeting complexities rationally but head-on.

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Nothing is true, some things are false

No quote but merely something I once thought (and still kind of think). It has the virtue of expressing the fundamental asymmetry of things. One could also say it expresses something some people would term the ‘directionality’ of life. But that will require some ‘teasing out’, as those same people that would use such terminology would say.

But before any of that: yes, I believe firmly that the title statement above is unequivocally true. Go on and make fun of me – as ‘the great many’ did when I uttered this proposition on the internet somewhat more than a decade ago. It is not just a matter that I believe it is true but also that I believe there is no contradiction – not even a paradox – in proporing this title sentence and believing it is true.

Never mind the ego-centrosm of this last paragraph though, let us examine what the proposition can show us who have enough of an open mind not to require of the utterer of an apparent contradictio in terminis that she is famous in order to take both the utterer and the utterance seriously:

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Parallélisme et Monisme

“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.

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