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A Review
Henri Louis Bergson's Book
Creative Evolution
Chapter II: The Divergent Directions of the
Evolution of Life, Torpor, Intelligence, Instinct
Topic 26: Life and Consciousness
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
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Topic 26...............Life and Consciousness


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

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


"Instinct is sympathy...










...If this sympathy could extend its object [i.e., any latched, actual SPoV—solid line complement of a quanton] and also reflect upon itself, it would give us the key to vital operations—just as intelligence, developed and disciplined, guides us into matter...

...For—we cannot too often repeat it—intelligence and instinct are turned in opposite directions, the former towards inert matter, the latter towards life. Intelligence, by means of science which is its work, will deliver up to us more and more completely the secret of physical operations; of life it brings us, and moreover only claims to bring us, a translation in terms of inertia. It goes all round life, taking from outside the greatest possible number of views of it, drawing it into itself instead of entering into it. But it is to the very inwardness of life that intuition leads us—by intuition I mean instinct that has become disinterested, self-conscious, capable of reflecting upon its object and of enlarging it indefinitely.

"That an effort of this kind is not impossible, is proved by the existence in man of an aesthetic faculty along with normal perception. Our eye perceives the features of the living being, merely as assembled, not as mutually organized. The intention of life, the simple movement that runs through the lines, that binds them together and gives them significance, escapes it. This intention is just what the artist tries to regain, in placing himself back within the object by a kind of sympathy, in breaking down, by an effort of intuition, the barrier that space puts up between him and his model. It is true that this aesthetic intuition, like external perception, only attains the individual. [We see this as a CTM limitation, not a limitation of QTMs.] But we can conceive an inquiry turned in the same direction as art, which would take life in general for its object, just as physical science, in following to the end the direction pointed out by external perception, prolongs the individual facts into general laws. No doubt this philosophy will never obtain a knowledge of its object comparable to that which science has of its own. Intelligence remains the luminous nucleus around which instinct, even enlarged and purified into intuition, forms only a vague nebulosity. But, in default of knowledge properly so called, reserved to pure intelligence, intuition may enable us to grasp what it is that intelligence fails to give us, and indicate the means of supplementing it. On the one hand, it will utilize the mechanism of intelligence itself to show how intellectual molds cease to be strictly applicable; and on the other hand, by its own work, it will suggest to us the vague feeling, if nothing more, of what must take the place of intellectual molds. Thus, intuition may bring the intellect to recognize that life does not quite go into the category of the many nor yet into that of the one; that neither mechanical causality nor finality can give a sufficient interpretation of the vital process."

(Our links, brackets, 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

Re: Bergson's "Instinct is sympathy." This may not be obvious! If it is, then good for you! If you paid close attention to what we commented in Bergson's topics so far, you should know now what he means. For Bergson, one sympathizes with 'objective' reality by getting inside it, by putting one's mind 'inside' objects. When you look at one of our quantons, i.e., a graphic, you see solid black or dark green lines. You also see dotted blue lines. Our dotted blue lines represent, roughly, Bergson's instinct—his sympathy. Instinct AKA sympathy compenetrates actual reality.

Observe that our quantons do exactly what Bergson requests. They extend and compenetrate sympathy into their actual complements! And now our quantons offer us a new ability for reality to use actuality as an agent of reality to reflect upon itself, just as Bergson asks.

Using QTMs, Bergson's blatantly classical phrase becomes in quantumese, "…—intelligence and instinct dance in complementary dimensions:" quanton(instinct,intelligence).

Gn¤stically this "dance" is quanton(pneuma,psyche). Toposically, hylic-thought subsides in golden pleromic omnispherings of middle~included pneuma~psyche.

Ideogrammatically this "dance" is quanton(wu_as_spirit,yu_as_psychic_patterns_of_Value).

Here we see Bergson's subtle (or n¤t so subtle) evolution of his dichon(instinct, intelligence) into something more like a quanton(intuition,intelligence). From our perspective we are talking about very similar issues, and both quanton(instinct,intelligence) and quanton(intuition,intelligence) are acceptable. Bergson's "…capable of reflecting upon its object and of enlarging it indefinitely." is an essential ingredient of real evolution. Real patterns of value, which we model as quantons, are capable of limitless growth and limitless interrelationships with other growing quantons.

Subsequent this review and Doug's efforts on it, Doug developed some graphics which describe Bergson's instinct, intuition, and intelligence using quantons. Here are two fairly well developed graphics:

Doug - 10-11Jun2008.



Rather, a quantum both/and of quanton(one,many), just as Mae-wan Ho suggested: a quantum, included-middle merger of both quantum cohesion and individual autonomy:

both one:

  • not a classical monism,
  • but ubiquitous quantum cohesion

and many:

  • not a classical analytic infinitely-divisible quantitative homogeneous monolith,
  • but quantum stochastic indivisible qualitative heterogeneous individual autonomies.



"Then, by the sympathetic communication which it establishes between us and the rest of the living, by the expansion of our consciousness which it brings about, it introduces us into life's own domain, which is reciprocal interpenetration, endlessly continued creation. But, though it thereby transcends intelligence, it is from intelligence that has come the push that has made it rise to the point it has reached. Without intelligence, it would have remained in the form of instinct, riveted to the special object of its practical interest, and turned outward by it into movements of locomotion.

"How theory of knowledge must take account of these two [quantum complementary] faculties, intellect and intuition, and how also, for want of establishing a sufficiently clear distinction between them, it becomes involved in inextricable difficulties, creating phantoms of ideas to which there cling phantoms of problems, we shall endeavor to show a little further on. We shall see that the problem of knowledge, from this point of view, is one with the metaphysical problem, and that both one and the other depend upon experience. On the one hand, indeed, if intelligence is charged with matter and instinct with life, we must squeeze them both in order to get the double essence from them; metaphysics is therefore dependent upon theory of knowledge. But, on the other hand, if consciousness has thus split up into intuition and intelligence, it is because of the need it had to apply itself to matter at the same time as it had to follow the stream of life. The double form of consciousness is then due to the double [dichonic] form of the real, and theory of knowledge must be dependent upon metaphysics. In fact, each of these two lines of thought leads to the other; they form a circle, [e.g., a Tao, a circle of circles—a quanton] and there can be no other centre to the circle but the empirical study of evolution. It is only in seeing consciousness run through matter, lose itself there and find itself there again, divide and reconstitute itself, that we shall form an idea of the mutual opposition [rather, complementarity] of the two terms, as also, perhaps, of their common [complementary] origin."

(Our brackets, bold, and color.)











"But, on the other hand, by dwelling on this opposition [rather, complementarity] of the two elements and on this identity of origin, perhaps we shall bring out more clearly the meaning of evolution itself.

"Such will be the aim of our next chapter. But the facts that we have just noticed must have already suggested to us the idea that life is connected either with consciousness or with something that resembles it [i.e., proemial quantum awareness; see second Quantum Awareness occurrence below...].

"Throughout the whole extent of the animal kingdom, we have said, consciousness seems proportionate to the living being's power of choice. It lights up the zone of potentialities that surrounds the act. It fills the interval between what is done and what might be done. Looked at from without [we claim a schism of within-without is quantumly impossible—rather, we claim a both/and included-middle quanton(without,within)], we may regard it as a simple aid to action, a light that action kindles, a momentary spark flying up from the friction of real action against possible actions. But we must also point out that things would go on in just the same way if consciousness, instead of being the effect, were the cause. We might suppose that consciousness, even in the most rudimentary animal, covers by right an enormous field, but is compressed in fact in a kind of vise: each advance of the nervous centres, by giving the organism a choice between a larger number of actions, calls forth the potentialities that are capable of surrounding the real, thus opening the vise wider and allowing consciousness to pass more freely. In this second hypothesis, as in the first, consciousness is still the instrument of action; but it is even more true to say that action is the instrument of consciousness; for the complicating of action with action, and the opposing of action to action, are for the imprisoned consciousness the only possible means to set itself free. How, then, shall we choose between the two hypotheses? [How about quanton(action,consciousness)?]"

(Our brackets, bold, and color.)




Yes! Assuming Bergson assumes this power of choice scales down to proemial reality, i.e., Planck quantons and their isoflux attractors, we arrived at this conclusion, independently, years ago. Bergson beat us to it by over 100 years! Bravo Bergson!

HotMemeAll memes quantum are always partial.™ HotMeme™.

All memes quantum, including choice (choosings), are always partial? "What do you mean by that Doug?"

Let's make a list, assuming at least these quantum~memeos: quantum~evolution is real, quantum~change is absolute, n¤ quanton is complete, n¤ quanton is comsistent, etc.

  • Whatever quantum~meme, in general we refer them "quantons," you can think of is evolving, and thus is always partial,
  • N¤ quanton can can have ideal classical state since all quantons are flux and all flux interrelates all flux in plausibly unlimited ways,





180 "If the first is true, consciousness must express exactly, at each instant, the state of the brain; there is strict parallelism (so far as intelligible) between the Psychical and the cerebral state. [Remember, Bergson had no knowledge of quantum cohesion, quantum nonlocality, and quantum superluminality. Though he did intuit "interpenetration," which begs quantum non-analytic memes: non-isolable, -separable, -reducible memes. Amazingly, Bergson partially arrived at a new meme of quantum reality!] On the second hypothesis, on the contrary, there is indeed solidarity and interdependence between the brain and consciousness, but not parallelism: the more complicated the brain becomes, thus giving the organism greater choice of possible actions, the more does consciousness outrun its physical concomitant. [If he knew of quantum cohesion, nonlocality, and superluminality, he would not have made that last statement.] Thus, the recollection of the same spectacle probably modifies in the same way a dog's brain and a man's brain, if the perception has been the same; yet the recollection must be very different in the man's consciousness from what it is in the dog's. In the dog, the recollection remains the captive of perception; it is brought back to consciousness only when an analogous perception recalls it by reproducing the same spectacle, and then it is manifested by the recognition, acted rather than thought, of the present perception much more than by an actual reappearance of the recollection itself. Man, on the contrary, is capable of calling up the recollection at will, at any moment, independently of the present perception. He is not limited to playing—his past life again; he represents and dreams it. The local modification of the brain to which the recollection is attached being the same in each case, the psychological difference between the two recollections cannot have its ground in a particular difference of detail between the two cerebral mechanisms, but in the difference between the two brains taken each as a whole. The more complex of the two, in putting a greater number of mechanisms in opposition [complementarity] to one another, has enabled consciousness to disengage itself from the restraint of one and all and to reach independence."

(Our brackets.)










"That things do happen in this way, that the second of the two hypotheses is that which must be chosen, is what we have tried to prove, in a former work, by the study of facts that best bring into relief the relation of the conscious state to the cerebral state, the facts of normal and pathological recognition, in particular the forms of aphasia.(1) But it could have been proved by pure reasoning, before even it was evidenced by facts. We have shown on what self-contradictory postulate, on what confusion of two mutually incompatible symbolisms, the hypothesis of equivalence between the cerebral state and the psychic state rests.(2)

"The evolution of life, looked at from this point, receives a clearer meaning, although it cannot be subsumed under any actual idea. [We assume he means a Platonic idea.] It is as if a broad current of consciousness had penetrated matter, loaded, as all consciousness is, with an enormous multiplicity of interwoven potentialities. [He just said in another way, "…both one quantum cohesion and many individual autonomies…" Amazing! Would it not be wonderful had William James Sidis read this book? Imagine: quanton(Animate,Inanimate)!!] It has carried matter along to organization, but its movement has been at once infinitely retarded and infinitely divided. On the one hand, indeed, consciousness has had to fall asleep, like the chrysalis in the envelope in which it is preparing for itself wings; and, on the other hand, the manifold tendencies it contained have been distributed among divergent series of organisms which, moreover, express these tendencies outwardly in movements rather than internally in representations. In the course of this evolution, while some beings have fallen more and more asleep, others have more and more completely awakened, and the torpor of some has served the activity of others. But the waking could be effected in two different [rather, quantum complementary] ways. Life, that is to say consciousness launched into matter, fixed its attention either on its own movement [i.e., our quanton's dotted blue] or on the matter [i.e., our quanton's solid black/green] it was passing through; and it has thus been turned [classically] either in the direction of intuition [classically] or in that of intellect [and, sadly, Bergson apparently misses quantum reality's both/and dotted blue commingling within our solid black/green]."

Note (1) - Matière et ménoire, chaps. ii. and iii.

Note (2) - "Le Paralogisme psycho-physiologique" (Revue de métaphysique, Nov. 1904).

(Our link, brackets, bold, and color.)




Bergson's limited intuition of quantum reality caused him to fall back on formal rational analytic objective thought (CTMs) here. Pieces of his missing quantum intuitions blinded him to quantum reality's intrinsic sophism. Reality's intrinsic quantum sophism precludes any possibility of classical dichotomies and contradictions (except within a conventional classical axiom set, a classical box, a classical church of reason). He cannot do what he just claimed he can do—at least not in general quantum reality he can't. See three of our imperative connections:

By quantum-conjuring a quanton(premise_1,premise_2), he can resolve his problem quite easily.
Doug 17Oct2000.




"Intuition, [~Pirsig's DQ] at first sight, seems far preferable to intellect, [~Pirsig's SQ] since in it [i.e., intuition] life and consciousness remain [quantum isocoherent] within themselves. But a glance at the evolution of living beings shows us that intuition could not go very far. On the side of intuition, consciousness found itself so restricted by its envelope [of quantum isocoherency] that intuition had to shrink [in quantum numbers this is a one octave drop/"shrink"] into instinct, that is, to embrace only the very small portion of life that interested it; and this it embraces only in the dark, touching it while hardly seeing it [isoflux cloaks or unlatches itself via omni-isometric self-cancelation]. On this side, the horizon was soon shut out. On the contrary [rather, complementary], consciousness, in shaping [latching] itself into intelligence, that is to say in concentrating itself at first on matter [rather, latched SPoVs], seems to externalize itself in relation to itself; but, just because it adapts itself thereby to objects from without, it succeeds in moving among them and in evading the barriers they oppose to it, thus opening to itself an unlimited field. Once freed, moreover, it can turn inwards on itself, and awaken the potentialities of intuition which still slumber within it.

"From this point of view, not only does consciousness [rather, proemial quantum awareness—where consciousness is a more highly evolved value pattern of more primal awareness] appear as the motive principle of evolution, but also, among conscious beings themselves, man comes to occupy a privileged [i.e., more highly evolved] place. Between him and the animals the difference is no longer one of degree, but of kind. We shall show how this conclusion is arrived at in our next chapter. Let us now show how the preceding analyses suggest it.

"A noteworthy fact is the extraordinary disproportion between the consequences of an invention and the invention itself. We have said that intelligence is modeled on matter [Until Pirsig's MoQ and Quantonics came along! ] and that it aims in the first place at fabrication. But does it fabricate in order to fabricate or does it not pursue involuntarily, and even unconsciously, something entirely different? [Yes! And we see another Bergsonian quantum epiphany!] Fabricating consists in shaping matter, in making it supple and in bending it, in converting it into an instrument in order to become master of it."

(Our brackets, bold, and color.



Notice how Bergson keeps his legacy dichotomy of either intellect or instinct. This classical division corresponds to SOM's antique Subject-Object dichotomy, where we may think of intellect/object in one 'division' and instinct/subject in its 'opposite' division. Also, consider how he uses 'itself' separately on each side. He talks separately, classically either about intuition/instinct itself or intelligence itself. He speaks of a kind of dichonic door closing with his "horizon was soon shut out," corresponding somewhat metaphorically to SOM's Birth. Where he puts a classical SOM "envelope" around intuition/instinct, MoQ/quantum/Quantonics see those, together as a quantum both/and of whole reality. To good, Bergson appears to use consciousness as a unifying coherency which commingles both 'sides.' Where consciousness was shut out of instinct, it latched into intelligence. We like to imagine it leaving its vast unconscious isometric potential there, still unlatched/unfretted but awaiting new opportunities for becoming.




A Quantum Epiphany: Nature's goal appears to be 'better,' and as such Its goal is moral. Planck rate evolute increments of plural change appear to march to a natural, moral imperative of 'better.' We call it "Quality."




"It is this mastery that profits humanity, much more even than the material result of the invention itself. Though we derive an immediate advantage from the thing made, as an intelligent animal might do, and though this advantage be all the inventor sought, it is a slight matter compared with the new ideas and new feelings that the invention may give rise to in every direction, as if the essential part of the effect were to raise us above ourselves and enlarge our horizon. Between the effect and the cause [rather, affects and outcomes] the disproportion is so great that it is difficult to regard the cause [affects] as producer of its effect [outcomes]. It releases it, whilst settling, indeed, its direction. Everything happens as though the grip of intelligence on matter were, in its main intention, to let something pass that matter is holding back.

"The same impression arises when we compare the brain of man with that of the animals. The difference at first appears to be only a difference of size and complexity. But, judging by function, there must be something else besides. In the animal, the motor mechanisms that the brain succeeds in setting up, or, in other words, the habits contracted voluntarily, have no other object nor effect than the accomplishment of the movements marked out in these habits, stored in these mechanisms. But, in man, the motor habit may have a second result, out of proportion to the first: it can hold other motor habits in check, and thereby, in overcoming automatism, set consciousness free. [We think Bergson's classical anthropochauvinism distorts his judgments regarding scales of automatism, consciousness, and intelligence twixt Homo sapiens, and dogs/lower animals.] We know what vast regions in the human brain language occupies. The cerebral mechanisms that correspond to the words have this in particular, that they can be made to grapple with other mechanisms, those, for instance, that correspond to the things themselves, or even be made to grapple with one another."

(Our brackets and bold.)










"Meanwhile consciousness, which would have been dragged down and drowned in the accomplishment of the act, is restored and set free.(1)

"The difference must therefore be more radical than a superficial examination would lead us to suppose. It is the difference between a mechanism which engages the attention and a mechanism from which it can be diverted. The primitive steam-engine, as Newcomen conceived it, required the presence of a person exclusively employed to turn on and off the taps, either to let the steam into the cylinder or to throw the cold spray into it in order to condense the steam. It is said that a boy employed on this work, and very tired of having to do it, got the idea of tying the handles of the taps, with cords, to the beam of the engine. Then the machine opened and closed the taps itself; it worked all alone. Now, if an observer had compared the structure of this second machine with that of the first without taking into account the two boys left to watch over them, he would have found only a slight difference of complexity. That is, indeed, all we can perceive when we look only at the machines. But if we cast a glance at the two boys, we shall see that whilst one is wholly taken up by the watching, the other is free to go and play as he chooses, and that, from this point of view, the difference between the two machines is radical, the first holding the attention captive, the second setting it at liberty. [quanton(liberty,captivity), quanton(freedom,confinement), quanton(animate,inanimate), quanton(DQ,SQ), quanton(dynamis,stasis), quanton(quintessence,essence), etc.] A difference of the same kind, we think, would be found between the brain of an animal and the human brain."

Note (1) - A geologist whom we have already had occasion to cite, N. S. Shaler, well says that "when we come to man, it seems as if we find the ancient subjection of mind to body abolished, and the intellectual parts develop with an extraordinary rapidity, the structure of the body remaining identical in essentials" (Shaler, The Interpretation of Nature, Boston, 1899, p. 187).

(Our brackets.)










185 "If, now, we should wish to express this in terms of finality, we should have to say that consciousness, after having been obliged, in order to set itself free, to divide organization into two complementary parts, vegetables on one hand and animals on the other, has sought an issue in the double direction of instinct and of intelligence. It has not found it with instinct, and it has not obtained it on the side of intelligence except by a sudden leap from the animal to man. So that, in the last analysis, man might be considered the reason for the existence of the entire organization of life on our planet. [Sheer anthropocentric Barbara Streisand.] But this would be only a manner of speaking. There is, in reality, only a current of existence and the opposing current; thence proceeds the whole evolution of life. We must now grasp more closely the opposition of these two currents. Perhaps we shall thus discover for them a common source. By this we shall also, no doubt, penetrate the most obscure regions of metaphysics. However, as the two directions we have to follow are clearly marked, in intelligence on the one hand, in instinct and intuition on the other, we are not afraid of straying. A survey of the evolution of life suggests to us a certain conception of knowledge, and also a certain metaphysics, which imply each other. Once made clear, this metaphysics and this critique may throw some light, in their turn, on evolution as a whole."

(Our brackets, bold, and color.)


Bergson's complementarity here is one of conjugation in actuality, not one of complementarity twixt nonactuality and actuality. His conjugation is that of solid black patterns of value, not that of both solid black and dotted blue patterns of value. (We probably should use "comjugation," rather than "conjugation.")

We strongly disagree with his attribution of intelligence as unique to man. Regardless what Protagoras said, dogs measure too!


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