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A Review
Henri Louis Bergson's Book
Creative Evolution
Chapter I: The Evolution of Life Mechanism and Teleology
Topic 13: Sudden Variation
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,
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Topic 13...............Sudden Variation


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

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


"In these different examples the "correlative" changes are only solidary changes (not to mention the fact that they are really lesions, namely, diminutions or suppressions, and not additions, which makes a great difference). But when we speak of "correlative" changes occurring suddenly in the different parts of the eye, we use the word in an entirely new sense: this time there is a whole set of changes not only simultaneous, not only bound together by community of origin, but so coördinated that the organ keeps on performing the same simple function, and even performs it better. That a change in the germ, which influences the formation of the retina, may affect at the same time also the formation of the cornea, the iris, the lens, the visual centres, etc., I admit, if necessary, although they are formations that differ much more from one another in their original nature than do probably hair and teeth. But that all these simultaneous changes should occur in such a way as to improve or even merely maintain vision, this is what, in the hypothesis of sudden variation, I cannot admit, unless a mysterious principle is to come in, whose duty it is to watch over the interest of the function. But this would be to give up the idea of "accidental" variation. In reality, these two senses of the word "correlation" are often interchanged in the mind of the biologist, just like the two senses of the word "adaptation." And the confusion is almost legitimate in botany, that science in which the theory of the formation of species by sudden variation rests on the firmest experimental basis. In vegetables, function is far less narrowly bound to form than in animals. Even profound morphological differences, such as a change in the form of leaves, have no appreciable influence on the exercise of function, and so do not require a whole system of complementary changes for the plant to remain fit to survive."

(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

"But it is not so in the animal, especially in the case of an organ like the eye, a very complex structure and very delicate function. Here it is impossible to identify changes that are simply solidary with changes which are also complementary. The two senses of the word "correlation" must be carefully distinguished; it would be a downright paralogism to adopt one of them in the premisses of the reasoning, and the other in the conclusion. And this is just what is done when the principle of correlation is invoked in explanations of detail in order to account for complementary variations, and then correlation in general is spoken of as if it were any group of variations provoked by any variation of the germ. Thus, the notion of correlation is first used in current science as it might be used by an advocate of finality; it is understood that this is only a convenient way of expressing oneself, that one will correct it and fall back [context switch] on pure mechanism when explaining the nature of the principles and turning from science to philosophy. And one does then come back to pure mechanism, but only by giving a new meaning to the word "correlation"—a meaning which would now make correlation inapplicable to the detail it is called upon to explain.

"To sum up, if the accidental variations that bring about evolution are insensible variations, some good genius must be appealed to—the genius of the future species—in order to preserve and accumulate these variations, for selection will not look after this. If, on the other hand, the accidental variations are sudden, then, for the previous function to go on or for a new function to take its place, all the changes that have happened together must be complementary. So we have to fall back on the good genius again, this time to obtain the convergence of simultaneous changes, as before to be assured of the continuity of direction of successive variations."

(Our brackets, bold, and color.)


Bergson's derogatory use of "paralogism" belies his innate classicism. It is fascinating to see a classic biologist find a means of climbing part way out of SOM's box. Bergson, obviously has not yet tumbled to quantum reality's intrinsic paralogical and sophist nature. Why does he not see his own complementary both/ands as paralogisms? Why does he appear not to see dialectic as radical mechanism and radical finalism's baser disease? Reality is paralogisms! Multiple comtexts to which he refers (both solidary and complementary vis-à-vis both reasoning and conclusion) spawn quantum real paralogisms. That is a key epiphany to leaving SOM's box and entering a new quantum multiverse! When paralogisms arise, one should feel joy. They are tells that one is in quantum reality. They are tells that one has left SOM's Church of Dialectical Reason.

Reader, note that complementary variations may be unacceptable in Bergson's own dialectical space, but they are OK in a larger quantum realm. Doug's opinion.

Bergson just described a SOMite switching contexts for convenience while assuming that said SOMite thought her/himself in but one global context (OGC). Humans do this often. It is a great advantage in debate as long as one's opponent adopts a one global truth (OGT) system, and does not understand quantum reality's "many truths." Lawyers use this technique to great advantage in court rooms. They impose pure or convenient dialectic on witnesses, and then use their own paralogical rhetoric to bend witnesses' yes/no, true/false dichotomized answers into any contrived local truth system they wish to construct. Most juries do not understand this aspect of dialectic and rhetoric and how lawyers can manipulate and contrive any outcome they choose. Unfortunately judges do not warn juries of this technique. (We are not even sure judges know what we just said. After reading some 'Supreme' Court opinions (e.g., A. Scalia on Nebraska's 'anti-abortion' law) we are almost certain they don't. J) We see a result, that, what lay folk perceive as justice and law is no more than legal convenience for hegemonists to manufacture outcomes they desire. Someday lay folk will understand this, and our current legal system will have to adopt a new ethics, whether Struan likes it or not. We hope it is sooner than later. However, as long as lay folk stay in their SOM/OGT/OGC boxes, lawyers and court systems will be able to manipulate them as we have described.

And, voila, Bergson arrives at a superb quantumesque, via "convergence of simultaneous changes," conclusion. Bravo!

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