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A Review
Henri Louis Bergson's Book
Creative Evolution
Chapter I: The Evolution of Life Mechanism and Teleology
Topic 1: Duration
by Doug Renselle
Doug's Pre-review Commentary
Start of Review

Chapter I II
Introduction 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 
Chapter III IV
22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45  46 47

Move to any Topic of Henri Louis Bergson's Creative Evolution,
or to beginning of its review via this set of links
says, "You are here!")

Topic 1...............Duration


(Most quotes verbatim Henri Louis Bergson, some paraphrased.)

(Relevant to Pirsig, William James Sidis, and Quantonics Thinking Modes.)


Bergson begins, "THE existence of which we are most assured and which we know best is unquestionably our own, for of every other object we have notions which may be considered external and superficial, whereas, of ourselves, our perception is internal and profound. What, then, do we find? In this privileged case, what is the precise meaning of the word "exist"? Let us recall here briefly the conclusions of an earlier work.

"I find, first of all, that I pass from state to state. I am warm or cold, I am merry or sad, I work or I do nothing, I look at what is around me or I think of something else. Sensations, feelings, volitions, ideas—such are the changes into which my existence is divided and which color it in turns. I change, then, without ceasing. But this is not saying enough. Change is far more radical than we are at first inclined to suppose.

"For I speak of each of my states as if it formed a block and were a separate whole. I say indeed that I change, but the change seems to me to reside in the passage from one state to the next: of each state, taken separately, I am apt to think that it remains the same during all the time that it prevails. Nevertheless, a slight effort of attention would reveal to me that there is no feeling, no idea, no volition which is not undergoing change every moment: if a mental state ceased to vary, its duration would cease to flow."

(Our bold and color.)

Bergson restarts his footnote counts on each page. So to refer a footnote, one must state page number and footnote number.

Our bold and color highlights follow a code:

  • black-bold - important to read if you are just scanning our review
  • green-bold - we see Bergson suggesting axiomatic memes
  • violet-bold - an apparent classical problematic
  • blue-bold - we disagree with this text segment while disregarding context of Bergson's overall text
  • gray-bold - quotable text
  • red-bold - our direct commentary

"Let us take the most stable of internal states, the visual perception of a motionless external object. The object may remain the same, I may look at it from the same side, at the same angle, in the same light; nevertheless the vision I now have of it differs from that which I have just had, even if only because the one is an instant older than the other. My memory is there, which conveys something of the past into the present. My mental state, as it advances on the road of time, is continually swelling with the duration which it accumulates: it goes on increasing—rolling upon itself, as a snowball on the snow. Still more is this the case with states more deeply internal, such as sensations, feelings, desires, etc., which do not correspond, like a simple visual perception, to an unvarying external object. But it is expedient to disregard this uninterrupted change, and to notice it only when it becomes sufficient to impress a new attitude on the body, a new direction on the attention. Then, and then only, we find that our state has changed. The truth is that we change without ceasing, and that the state itself is nothing but change.

"This amounts to saying that there is no essential difference between passing from one state to another and persisting in the same state. If the state which "remains the same" is more varied than we think, on the other hand the passing from one state to another resembles, more than we imagine, a single state being prolonged; the transition is continuous. But, just because we close our eyes to the unceasing variation of every Psychical state, we are obliged, when the change has become so considerable as to force itself on our attention, to speak as if a new state were placed alongside the previous one. Of this new state we assume that it remains unvarying in its turn, and so on endlessly."

(Our bold and color.)

Incremental evolution — next is one Planck moment older than prior, but many priors and many nexts.

Rather, "My mental states, as they advance on many roads of times..." 27Dec2000 Doug.

Pirsigean, quantum, Bergsonian, absolute change — absolute flux.

Expect Bergson's duration as: quanton(differentness,sameness).

A hint of Bergson's duration: quanton(DQ,SQ).

And here we see that classical 'measurement' is naught more than an " if..." apparition. 27Dec2000 Doug.


"The apparent discontinuity of the Psychical life is then due to our attention being fixed on it by a series of separate acts: actually there is only a gentle slope; but in following the broken line of our acts of attention, we think we perceive separate steps. True, our psychic life is full of the unforeseen. A thousand incidents arise, which seem to be cut off from those which precede them, and to be disconnected from those which follow. Discontinuous though they appear, however, in point of fact they stand out against the continuity of a background on which they are designed, and to which indeed they owe the intervals that separate them; they are the beats of the drum which break forth here and there in the symphony. Our attention fixes on them because they interest it more, but each of them is borne by the fluid mass of our whole Psychical existence. Each is only the best illuminated point of a moving zone which comprises all that we feel or think or willall, in short, that we are at any given moment. It is this entire zone which in reality makes up our state. Now, states thus defined cannot be regarded as distinct elements. They continue each other in an endless flow.

"But, as our attention has distinguished and separated them artificially, it is obliged next to reunite them by an artificial bond. It imagines, therefore, a formless ego, indifferent and unchangeable, on which it threads the psychic states which it has set up as independent entities. Instead of a flux of fleeting shades merging into each other, it perceives distinct and, so to speak, solid colors, set side by side like the beads of a necklace; it must perforce then suppose a thread, also itself solid, to hold the beads together. But if this colorless substratum is perpetually colored by that which covers it, it is for us, in its indeterminateness, as if it did not exist, since we only perceive what is colored, or, in other words, psychic states."

(Our bold and color.)

A Bergson def. of duration. See our quanton of his duration.

See our
QE thread artwork. View thread as flux itself, not as a classical object as Bergson does. Threads spawn unique Quality Events, once past, gone forever. This view of threads fits Bergson's "…fleeting shades merging…" above.

"As a matter of fact, this substratum has no reality; it is merely a symbol intended to recall unceasingly to our consciousness the artificial character of the process by which the attention places clean-cut states side by side, where actually there is a continuity which unfolds. If our existence were composed of separate states with an impassive ego to unite them, for us there would be no duration. For an ego which does not change does not endure, and a psychic state which remains the same so long as it is not replaced by the following state does not endure either. Vain, therefore, is the attempt to range such states beside each other on the ego supposed to sustain them: never can these solids strung upon a solid make up that duration which flows. What we actually obtain in this way is an artificial imitation of the internal life, a static equivalent which will lend itself better to the requirements of logic and language, just because we have eliminated from it the element of real time. But, as regards the Psychical life unfolding beneath the symbols which conceal it, we readily perceive that time is just the stuff it is made of.

"There is, moreover, no stuff more resistant nor more substantial. For our duration is not merely one instant replacing another; if it were, there would never be, anything but the present—no prolonging of the past into the actual, no evolution, no concrete duration. Duration is the continuous progress of the past which gnaws into the future and which swells as it advances. And as the past grows without ceasing, so also there is no limit to its preservation. Memory, as we have tried to prove(1), is not a faculty of putting away recollections in a drawer, or of inscribing them in a register."

Note (1) - Matière et mémaire, Paris, 1896, chaps. ii. and iii.

(Our bold and color.)

"Egos" Gates and Grove could both learn a lot reading Henri Louis Bergson!

  • Hello AMD and Tiny! Hello OSS! Hello open and cohesive Bazaar! Hello multiversal customization.
  • Goodbye Wintel!!! Goodbye "solid" monolithic hegemons!!! Goodbye closed analytic Cathedrals of FUD!!! Goodbye classical "one size fits all."




Rather, "...many instants replacing others..." 27Dec2000 Doug.


"There is no register, no drawer; there is not even, properly speaking, a faculty, for a faculty works intermittently, when it will or when it can, whilst the piling up of the past upon the past goes on without relaxation. In reality, the past is preserved by itself, automatically. In its entirety, probably, it follows us at every instant; all that we have felt, thought and willed from our earliest infancy is there, leaning over the present which is about to join it, pressing against the portals of consciousness that would fain leave it outside. The cerebral mechanism is arranged just so as to drive back into the unconscious almost the whole of this past, and to admit beyond the threshold only that which can cast light on the present situation or further the action now being prepared—in short, only that which can give useful work. At the most, a few superfluous recollections may succeed in smuggling themselves through the half-open door. These memories, messengers from the unconscious, remind us of what we are dragging behind us unawares. But, even though we may have no distinct idea of it, we feel vaguely that our past remains present to us. What are we, in fact, what is our character, if not the condensation of the history that we have lived from our birth—nay, even before our birth, since we bring with us prenatal dispositions? Doubtless we think with only a small part of our past, but it is with our entire past, including the original bent of our soul, that we desire, will and act. Our past, then, as a whole, is made manifest to us in its impulse; it is felt in the form of tendency, although a small part of it only is known in the form of idea.

"From this survival of the past it follows that consciousness cannot go through the same state[s] twice. The circumstances may still be the same, but they will act no longer on the same person, since they find him at a new moment of his history. Our personality, which is being built up each instant with its accumulated experience, changes without ceasing."

(Our brackets, bold and color.)

This appears fundamentally different from Pirsig's QEs. Pirsig describes DQ as "undefinable chaos." But as quanton(DQ,SQ) DQ becomes ontologically where both isononpreferential, i.e., isons, and isobeing isocoherently coinside.

Bergson's view of consciousness here appears anthropocentric. In Quantonics, we see reality as self-aware and thus Quantonic reality scales consciousness.

I.e., reminding us that we are quantons. Artwork mentioned and linked below shows what we are "dragging" as both DQ and its quantum analogue, nonactuality.

See our recent Bergsonesque "impulse" artwork
—see our Both Planck and Quality Events.

This concurs wholly with William James' evolutionary, novel, and plural empiricism. Note how this requires our past isobe immersed in a fluxing nonactuality.

"By changing, it prevents any state, although superficially identical with another, from ever repeating it in its very depth. That is why our duration is irreversible. We could not live over again a single moment, for we should have to begin by effacing the memory of all that had followed. Even could we erase this memory from our intellect, we could not from our will.

"Thus our personality shoots, grows and ripens without ceasing. Each of its moments is something new added to what was before. We may go further: it is not only something new, but something unforeseeable. Doubtless, my present state is explained by what was in me and by what was acting on me a moment ago. In analyzing it I should find no other elements. But even a superhuman intelligence would not have been able to foresee the simple indivisible form which gives to these purely abstract elements their concrete organization. For to foresee consists of projecting into the future what has been perceived in the past, or of imagining for a later time a new grouping, in a new order, of elements already perceived. But that which has never been perceived, and which is at the same time simple, is necessarily unforeseeable. Now such is the case with each of our states, regarded as a moment in a history that is gradually unfolding: it is simple, and it cannot have been already perceived, since it concentrates in its indivisibility all that has been perceived and what the present is adding to it besides. It is an original moment of a no less original history.

"The finished portrait is explained by the features of the model, by the nature of the artist, by the colors spread out on the palette; but, even with the knowledge of what explains it, no one, not even the artist, could have foreseen exactly what the portrait would be, for to predict it would have been to produce it before it was produced—an absurd hypothesis which is its own refutation."

(Our bold and color.)

This is extraordinarily interesting. Our Quantonic model of reality has 'memory' or 'past' accumulating/persisting as isobeing in nonactuality's/DQ's pure flux. As such, it is intrinsically isocoherent and thus implicitly reversible. We would say that Bergson's "irreversibility" arises from a classical Maxwellian view of positive entropy whose existence rests on classical assumptions Bergson denies.

In our model, we would not efface memory, rather we would/could (partially) coherently 'revisit' it. We agree that we would merely be revisiting it in some other frame. However, from our perspective, hypnosis, dreaming, and actuality-to-nonactuality transitions 'put' us partially there as partially coherent, coherent, or isocoherent unlatched fluxes of actuality's 'past.' Since time is heterogeneous, too, we probably should say "…pasts…" Bergson's description of our "memory" and "duration" are exactly that: partially quantum coherent visits or awarenesses of "pasts." Cellular apoptosis is an example of portions of us doing actuality-to-nonactuality transitions. Transitioned cells, just like memories, are part of our "memories," and our "duration."

: For sure, we do not know how nonactuality's absolute isoflux affects actuality's transitioned, isocoherent past. E.g., we do not know, and we assume we cannot wholly know (adhering a Pirsigean axiom that DQ/nonactuality/isoflux is undefinable) nonactuality without isobeing in It. Our tentatively privileged latched existence in actuality cloaks nonactuality from our full understanding. However, we do directly experience, empirically, nonactuality's absolute impetus for change. That is how we intuit that It coheres and coinsides us.

Given all of this, we may commence a quantum glimmer that Maxwell's arrow of time may lose its classical tenor of analytic monolithicity.
Classical time may lose its homogeneous, sequential, mutually excluded-middle unilogic of one past, one now and one future "fits all."

We disfavor Bergson's MoQ-averse either/or classical aphorism of "…an absurd hypothesis which is its own refutation."

Key word above is "exactly." Almost all of us share intuemes of potentia to prototype contingent and inexact 'possible' futures. Certainly, we cannot guarantee outcomes, but we canwith effortassist subsequent outcomes to trend in more desirable ways. Artists and musicians, planners and architects certainly do this prototyping process in their minds and on paper, and what we observe is non-analytic evolution of their prototypes. This empirical and prescient avatar tells an enormously important aspect of quantum reality: event ensemble stochastic determinism—essence of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. Without this, quantum science would be wholly ineffective. If we were to put words in Bergson's mouth he might say something like this, "Duration is not analytic, but we can aim or point our duration at imagined goals."

We can emphasize non-analyticity of Bergson's duration in other ways, using our late 20th century, early 3rd millennium quantum knowledge and QTMs. Each local choice (Quality Event) can be made based upon an almost unlimited quantum ensemble of precondition Values. Most of us act or choose based upon a small subset of these (a subset of which our intellectual level is aware, and a subset of that subset our intellect uses to make a choice). (Reader, please realize that our example is not intended to be exclusively anthropocentric. We could as easily describe a biological cell making similar choices.) Reality, however, uses many Value affective preconditions—plus some we do not even know about—to influence all next outcomes (i.e., "whatings happenings nextings") affected by any choice. We think it is important to see here that each choice we make—is heterogeneous—i.e., choice(s) use(s) "many preconditions" and affect(s) "many outcomes." We have not heard Bergson say this yet, but this is how we perceive many times' heterogeneity. "Many preconditions" form our quantum event ensemble (i.e., in our link above) for any given choice(s). "Many outcomes" form our non-analytic affects on many local and nonlocal quantum comtexts.

Pirsig's MoQ tells us:

  • this empirical probabilistic evolution,
  • driven—as Bergson agrees—by absolute change impetus,
  • is naturally moral due to reality's incipient and persistent trending toward "better" (based upon local, mutating and relentless quantal Quality choices).

"Even so with regard to the moments of our life, of which we are the artisans. Each of them is a kind of creation. And just as the talent of the painter is formed or deformed—in any case, is modified—under the very influence of the works he produces, so each of our states, at the moment of its issue, modifies our personality, being indeed the new form that we are just assuming. It is then right to say that what we do depends on what we are; but it is necessary to add also that we are, to a certain extent, what we do, and that we are creating ourselves continually. This creation of self by self is the more complete, the more one reasons on what one does. For reason does not proceed in such matters as in geometry, where impersonal premises are given [only apparently, classically] once for all, and an impersonal conclusion must perforce be drawn. Here, on the contrary, the same reasons may dictate to different persons, or to the same person at different moments, acts profoundly different, although equally reasonable. The truth is that they are not quite the same reasons, since they are not those of the same person, nor of the same moment. That is why we cannot deal with them in the abstract, from outside, as in geometry, nor solve for another the problems by which he is faced in life. Each must solve them from within, on his own account. But we need not go more deeply into this. We are seeking only the precise meaning that our consciousness gives to this word "exist," and we find that, for a conscious being, to exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly. Should the same be said of existence in general?

"A material object, of whatever kind, presents opposite characters to those which we have just been describing."

(Our brackets, bold and color.)

Implicit recursion here. Consider affects of real recursion on our comments about reversibility above.

We ask you reader, to view all axiomatic systems like "geometry" as examples of SOM's Box, its Vicious Reality Loop, its closed Church of Reason.

Consider carefully what Bergson's words here mean for classical judicial laws, ethical principles, mathematical axiom sets, et al. 27Dec2000 Doug.

Should any 'organization' control your local ethics? Why would they try to do that?
Would it be ethical? How long would any ethical axiom set persist?

Bergson agrees! "Change" is absolute! Flux is crux!

"Either it remains [apparently, classically] as it is, or else, if it changes under the influence of an external force, our idea of this change is that of a displacement of parts which themselves do not change. If these parts took to changing, we should split them up in their turn. We should thus descend to the molecules of which the fragments are made, to the atoms that make up the molecules, to the corpuscles that generate the atoms, to the "imponderable" within which the corpuscle is perhaps a mere vortex. In short, we should push the division or analysis as far as necessary. But we should stop only before the unchangeable.

"Now, we say [classically] that a composite object changes by the displacement of its parts. But when a part has left its position, there is nothing to prevent its return to it. A group of elements which has gone through a state can therefore always find its way back to that state, if not by itself, at least by means of an external cause able to restore everything to its place. This amounts to saying that any state of the group may be repeated as often as desired, and consequently that the group does not grow old. It has no history.

"Thus nothing is created therein, neither form nor matter. What the group will be is already present in what it is, provided "what it is" includes all the points of the universe with which it is related. A superhuman intellect could calculate, for any moment of time, the position of any point of the system in space. And as there is nothing more in the form of the whole than the arrangement of its parts, the future forms of the system are theoretically visible in its present configuration.

"All our [classical] belief in objects, all our operations on the systems that science isolates, rest in fact on the idea that time does not bite into them. We have touched on this question in an earlier work, and shall return to it in the course of the present study."

(Our brackets, bold and color.)

This is Newton's analytic, y=f(t) concept of objective change/motion.

Quantum science arose when scientists discovered Newton's process of "
analytic" reduction fails. Quantum reality's constituent quantons do not adhere Newtonian analytical "System of the World Rules."
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To contact Quantonics write to or call:

Doug Renselle
Quantonics, Inc.
1950 East Greyhound Pass, Ste 18, # 368
Carmel, INdiana 46033-7730

©Quantonics, Inc., 2000-2009 Rev. 14Nov2007  PDR Created: 20Sep2000  PDR
(4Nov2000 rev - Minor text changes.)
(27Dec2000 rev - Page 2: Typo. Add bold red comment. Add classical 'measurement' quote.)
(27Dec2000 rev - Page 3: Correct dash to extended dash. Add link to Bergsonian duration quanton.)
(27Dec2000 rev - Page 3: Change "Threads are..." to "Threads spawn unique...")
(27Dec2000 rev - Page 4: Comment typo. Add 'many' comment.)
(27Dec2000 rev - Page 5: Add plural 's' brackets.)
(27Dec2000 rev - Page 7: Add 'classical' brackets to text. Add 'recursion,' 'consider,' and 'ethics' link and comments.)
(27Dec2000 rev - Page 8: Add 'classical' brackets to text.)
(13Nov2001 rev - Add page 2 comments' Measurement link. Add page 6 comments' "Whatings Happenings Nextings" link.)
(31Dec2001 rev - Add top of page frame-breaker.)
(7Jun2005 rev - Change some colors. Release page constraints. Replace some wingdings fonts with GIFs for compatibility.)
(15Sep2006 rev - Adjust colors and reformat.)
(14Nov2007 rev - Reformat slightly.)
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