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A Review
Henri Louis Bergson's Book
Creative Evolution
Chapter III: On The Meaning of Life The Order of Nature
and the
Form of Intelligence
Topic 35: Laws and Genera
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
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Topic 35...............Laws and Genera


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

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


"But it is exceptional for order of the first kind to take so distinct a form. Ordinarily, it presents features that we have every interest in confusing with those of the opposite order. It is quite certain, for instance, that if we could view the evolution of life in its entirety, the spontaneity of its movement and the unforeseeability of its procedures would thrust themselves on our attention. But what we meet in our daily experience is a certain determinate living being, certain special manifestations of life, which repeat, almost, forms and facts already known; indeed, the similarity of structure that we find everywhere between what generates and what is generated—a similarity that enables us to include any number of living individuals in the same group—is to our eyes the very type of the generic: the inorganic genera seem to us to take living genera as models. [From a MoQ-quantum perspective this apparent order is reversed. I.e., inorganic quantons evolutionarily precede biological quantons.] Thus the vital order, such as it is offered to us piecemeal in experience, presents the same character and performs the same function as the physical order: both cause experience to repeat itself, both enable our mind to generalize. In reality, this character has entirely different origins in the two cases, and even opposite meanings. In the second case, the type of this character, its ideal limit, as also its foundation, is the geometrical necessity in virtue of which the same components give the same resultant. In the first case, this character involves, on the contrary, the intervention of something which manages to obtain the same total effect although the infinitely complex elementary causes may be quite different. We insisted on this last point in our first chapter, when we showed how identical structures are to be met with on independent lines of evolution. But, without looking so far, we may presume that the reproduction only of the type of the ancestor by his descendants is an entirely different thing from the repetition of the same composition of forces which yields an identical resultant. When we think of the infinity of infinitesimal elements and of infinitesimal causes that concur in the genesis of a living being, when we reflect that the absence or the deviation of one of them would spoil everything, the first impulse of the mind is to consider this army of little workers as watched over by a skilled foreman, the "vital principle," which is ever repairing faults, correcting effects of neglect or absentmindedness, putting things back in place: this is how we try to express the difference between the physical and the vital order, the former making the same combination of causes give the same combined effect, the latter securing the constancy of the effect even when there is some wavering in the causes."

(Our 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

Rather than SOM's Object over Subject hierarchy, Pirsig's MoQ offers a Subject over Object unification in four pattern levels, top down: intellect, social, biological, and inorganic.

Both are, taken as classically real, classical illusions. There is no quantum ideal repeat or duplication, thus there is no ideal genericity. There is quantum uncertainty: in repetition, in duplication, and in genericity.


Again, in quantum reality, this Platonic idea statistically never happens. Why? Because quantum uncertainty, due to absolute quantal change is absolute from Planck moment to Planck moment. Quantum change is absolute. Flux is crux.

But quantum reality shows us there is no vital order. There is only quantum plural empirical evolute extension (EEE) of all of reality at Planck rates in omneity.


"But that is only a comparison; on reflection, we find that there can be no foreman, for the very simple reason that there are no workers. The causes and elements that physico-chemical analysis discovers are real causes and elements, no doubt, as far as the facts of organic destruction are concerned; they are then limited in number. But vital phenomena, properly so called, or facts of organic creation open up to us, when we analyze them, the perspective of an analysis passing away to infinity: whence it may be inferred that the manifold causes and elements are here only views of the mind, attempting an ever closer and closer imitation of the operation of nature, while the operation imitated is an indivisible act. [I.e., reality is quantum cohesive.] The likeness between individuals of the same species has thus an entirely different meaning, an entirely different origin, to that of the likeness between complex effects obtained by the same composition of the same causes. But in the one case as in the other, there is likeness, and consequently possible generalization. And as that is all that interests us in practice, since our daily life is and must be an expectation of the same things and the same situations, it is natural that this common character, essential from the point of view of our action, should bring the two orders together [i.e., quanton(dynamis,stasis)], in spite of a merely internal diversity between them which interests speculation only. Hence the idea of a general order of nature, everywhere the same, hovering over life and over matter alike [but that 'general order' is absolute dynamis, AKA DQ]. Hence our habit of designating by the same word and representing in the same way the existence of laws in the domain of inert matter and that of genera in the domain of life.

"Now, it will be found that this confusion is the origin of most of the difficulties raised by the problem of knowledge, among the ancients as well as among the modems."

(Our brackets, bold, and color.)


A good way to show this is part of a quantum epiphany: quanton(c¤mplement_of_generalization,generalization). Our quantum epiphany is that all quantons in quantum actuality are c¤mplements of their actuality and their n¤nactuality. Let's show you like that:

  • youquanton(n¤nactuality,you), or
  • youquanton(DQ,Your_SQ).

'Laws' are usually perceived by Western cultures as dogma, i.e., ESQ. We can say something similar about scientists who seek 'final' GUTs and TOEs. They seek ESQ. Quantum reality changes all SQ, and always changes all SQ! No cultural dogma, no scientific law is immune to quantum reality's absolute flux!

Confusion arises due to Western culture's view of quantum reality as paradice. All quantons are sophisms! All quantons are an included-middle both/and of both their actual and their n¤nactual c¤mplements. That last sentence is what Aristotle's syllogisms intended to preclude: any possibility of a sophist reality. But quantum reality is a sophism of sophisms!


"The generality of laws and that of genera having been designated by the same word and subsumed under the same idea, the geometrical order and the vital order are accordingly confused together. According to the point of view, the generality of laws is explained by that of genera, or that of genera by that of laws. The first view is characteristic of ancient thought; the second belongs to modem philosophy. [So Bergson tells us that natural 'laws' 'determine' or 'explain' genera.] But in both ancient and modern philosophy the idea of "generality" is an equivocal idea, uniting in its denotation and in its connotation incompatible objects and elements. In both there are grouped under the same concept two kinds of order which are alike only in the facility they give to our action on things. We bring together the two terms in virtue of a quite external likeness, which justifies no doubt their designation by the same word for practice, but which does not authorize us at all, in the speculative domain, to confuse them in the same definition.

"The ancients, indeed, did not ask why nature submits to laws, but why it is ordered according to genera. The idea of genus corresponds more especially to an objective reality in the domain of life, where it expresses an unquestionable fact, heredity. Indeed, there can only be genera where there are individual objects; now, while the organized being is cut out from the general mass of matter by his very organization, that is to say naturally, it is our perception which cuts inert matter into distinct bodies. [William James would say that 'concept' or Platonic 'idea' does what Bergson says here. James claims that his version of 'percept' "intellectually sympathizes" flux AKA Bergson's vital impetus.] It is guided in this by the interests of action, by the nascent reactions that our body indicates—that is, as we have shown elsewhere,(1) by the potential genera that are trying to gain existence. In this, then, genera and individuals determine one another by a semi-artificial operation entirely relative to our future action on things. Nevertheless the ancients did not hesitate to put all genera in the same rank, to attribute the same absolute existence to all of them."

Note (1) - Matière et mémoire, chapters iii. and iv.

(Our brackets, bold, and color.)

"Reality thus being a system of genera, it is to the generality of the genera (that is, in effect, to the generality expressive of the vital order) that the generality of laws itself had to be brought. It is interesting, in this respect, to compare the Aristotelian theory of the fall of bodies with the explanation furnished by Galileo. Aristotle is concerned solely with the concepts "high" and "low," "own proper place" as distinguished from "place occupied," "natural movement" and "forced movement;"(1) the physical law in virtue of which the stone falls expresses for him that the stone regains the "natural place" of all stones, to wit, the earth. The stone, in his view, is not quite stone so long as it is not in its normal place; in falling back into this place it aims at completing itself, like a living being that grows, thus realizing fully the essence of the genus stone.(2) If this conception of the physical law were exact, the law would no longer be a mere relation established by the mind; the subdivision of matter into bodies would no longer be relative to our faculty of perceiving; all bodies would have the same individuality as living bodies, and the laws of the physical universe would express relations of real kinship between real genera. We know what kind of physics grew out of this, and how, for having believed in a science unique and final, embracing the totality of the real and at one with the absolute, the ancients were confined, in fact, to a more or less clumsy interpretation of the physical in terms of the vital."

Note (1) - See in particular, Phys., iv. 215 a 2; v. 230 b 12; viii. 255 a 2; and De Caelo, iv. 1-5; ii. 296 b 27; iv. 308 a 34.

Note (2) - De Caelo, iv. 310 a 34 [to eis tou autou topou jerqai ekaotou to eis to autou eidos esti jeresqai]. (Ugh! Our Greek symbol set is missing some characters, esp. emphases. See Bergson's original text, or De Caelo. Doug.)

(Our bold and color.)
229 "But there is the same confusion in the moderns, with this difference, however, that the relation between the two terms is inverted: laws are no longer reduced to genera, but genera to laws; and science, still supposed to be uniquely one, becomes altogether relative, instead of being, as the ancients wished, altogether at one with the absolute. [And we see a SOM wall, like a huge SOM knife, extract Quality from objective reality and science…in one fell swoop. Pirsig's MoQ puts Quality back into intellects perceptions of reality. Our Quantonics use Pirsig's MoQ, quantum science, and our own unique notation to make new semiotics which keep Quality in our intellects' forefronts, always Lila dancing on our quantum stages.] A noteworthy fact is the eclipse of the problem of genera in modern philosophy. Our theory of knowledge turns almost entirely on the question of laws: genera are left to make shift with laws as best they can. The reason is, that modern philosophy has its point of departure in the great astronomical and physical discoveries of modern times. The laws of Kepler and of Galileo have remained for it the ideal and unique type of all knowledge. Now, a [classical] law is a relation between things or between facts. More precisely, a [classical] law of mathematical form expresses the [classical] fact that a certain magnitude is a [classical] function of one or several other [classical] variables appropriately chosen. Now, the choice of the variable magnitudes, the distribution of nature into [classical] objects and into [classical] facts, has already something of the [classical] contingent and the [classical] conventional. But, admitting that the choice is hinted at, if not prescribed, by experience, the law remains none the less a [classical] relation, and a [classical] relation is essentially a [classical, objective] comparison; it has objective reality only for an intelligence that represents to itself several terms at the same time. This intelligence may be neither mine nor yours: a science which bears on [classical] laws may therefore be an objective [classical] science, which experience contains in advance and which we simply make it disgorge; but it is none the less true that a [classical] comparison of some kind must be effected here, impersonally if not by any one in particular, and that an experience made of [classical] laws, that is, of [classical] terms related to other [classical] terms, is an [classical] experience made of [classical] comparisons, which, before we receive it, has already had to pass through an [classical] atmosphere of [classical] intellectuality."

(Our bold and links.)

If you are wholly nauseated by classical thought at this page's end, we accomplished our purpose. Classical thing-king sucks! We hope you get our 'harmless' point.


"The idea of a science and of an experience entirely relative to the human understanding was therefore implicitly contained in the conception of a science one and integral, composed of laws: Kant only brought it to light. But this conception is the result of an arbitrary confusion between the generality of laws and that of genera. Though an intelligence be necessary to condition terms by relation to each other, we may conceive that in certain cases the terms themselves may exist independently. And if, beside relations of term to term, experience also presents to us independent terms, the living genera being something quite different from systems of laws, one half, at least, of our knowledge bears on the "thing-in-itself," the very reality. This knowledge may be very difficult, just because it no longer builds up its own object and is obliged, on the contrary, to submit to it; but, however little it cuts [Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!] into its object, it is into the absolute itself that it bites. We may go further: the other half of knowledge is no longer so radically, so definitely relative as certain philosophers say, if we can establish that it bears on a reality of inverse order, a reality which we always express in mathematical laws, that is to say in relations that imply comparisons, but which lends itself to this work only because it is weighted with spatiality and consequently with geometry. Be that as it may, it is the confusion of two kinds of order that lies behind the relativism of the modems, as it lay behind the dogmatism of the ancients.

"We have said enough to mark the origin of this confusion. It is due to the fact that the "vital" order, which is essentially creation, is manifested to us less in its essence than in some of its accidents [rather choices via both vital and proemial quantum awareness], those which imitate the physical and geometrical order; like it, they present to us repetitions that make generalization possible, and in that we have all that interests us. There is no doubt that life as a whole is an evolution, that is, an unceasing transformation. [We wholly agree with Bergson's last sentence! Bravo!]"

(Our brackets, bold, and color.)

I.e., an anthropocentric science.—Reader please note that anthropocentrism is a centrism, and centrisms are implicit dichotomies, and therefore centrisms are Pirsigean platypi—AKA Quantonic dichons.


"Many Pi's are MoQ's quantum knives,
circle over diameter no cut derives,
unlike SOM's whose scission's crux,
Quality Events latch and unlatch flux."

22Feb2000, Doug Renselle

The only relativism in quantum reality is nonlocal comtextual relativism. Einsteinian relativism is a non-starter, since we now see that quantum reality's time is not classically homogeneous nor axiomatically independent as a unilogical classical variable. Cultural or Post Modern Relativism denies both absolute change and quantum locally comtext-dependent truth. Cultural or PM Relativism insists that, even in a local quantum comtext, truth is still relative. Truth is highly comsistent in local quantum comtexts! That is an enormous philosophical mistake, for which CR will pay by eventual extinction via its non-ESS. Quantum comtextual relativity arises from its incommensurability (low comsistency) across differing local quantum comtexts. Essentially, quantum truth is: quanton(nonlocal_truths,local_truths).


"But life can progress only by means of the living, which are its depositories. [Quantum reality is alive, proemially alive!] Innumerable living beings, almost alike, have to repeat each other in space and in time for the novelty they are working out to grow and mature. It is like a book that advances towards a new edition by going through thousands of reprints with thousands of copies. There is, however, this difference between the two cases, that the successive impressions are identical, as well as the simultaneous copies of the same impression, whereas representatives of one and the same species are never entirely the same, either in different points of space or at different moments of time. Heredity does not only transmit characters; it transmits also the impetus in virtue of which the characters are modified, and this impetus is vitality itself. That is why we say that the repetition which serves as the base of our generalizations is essential in the physical order, accidental [rather, by Planck rate choices based upon absolute flux and proemial obsfective awareness] in the vital order. The physical order is "automatic;" the vital order is, I will not say voluntary, but analogous to the order "willed."

"Now, as soon as we have clearly distinguished between the order that is "willed" and the order that is "automatic," the ambiguity that underlies the idea of disorder is dissipated, and, with it, one of the principal difficulties of the problem of knowledge.

"The main problem of the theory of knowledge is to know how science is possible, that is to say, in effect, why there is order and not disorder in things [rather, to say why there is both order and disorder in all quantum reality's constituents]. That order exists is a [classical] fact. But, on the other hand, disorder, which appears to us to be less than order, is, it seems, of right. The existence of [apparent, classically exclusive] order is then a mystery to be cleared up, at any rate a problem to be solved. More simply, when we undertake to found order, we regard it as contingent [we may choose to use 'quantum uncertain' in place of Bergson's 'contingent'], if not in things, at least as viewed by the mind: of a thing that we do not judge to be contingent we do not require an explanation. If order did not appear to us as a conquest over something, or as an addition to something (which something is thought to be the "absence of order"), ancient realism would not have spoken of a "matter" to which the Idea superadded itself, nor would modern idealism have supposed a "sensuous manifold" that the understanding organizes into nature. Now, it is unquestionable that all order is contingent, and conceived as such. But contingent in relation to what?"

(Our brackets and bold.)












We arrive at a similar conclusion via Pirsig's MoQ and its two great accomplishments which resonate with Bergson's conclusions:

  1. unification of Subject-Object (i.e., quantum included-middle unification), and
  2. inversion of classical Subject-Object hierarchy (i.e., both subject over object and value over truth).
Return to Chapter Index

To contact Quantonics write to or call:

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

©Quantonics, Inc., 2000-2033 Rev. 17Jul2017  PDR Created: 20Sep2000  PDR
(8Jul2001 rev - Correct link to page 30.)
(14Dec2001 rev - Add top of page frame-breaker.)
(21Jan2002 rev - Remediate quantum comtextual occurrences of 'complement' to 'c¤mplement.)
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(15Nov2007 rev - Reformat slightly.)
(20-22Dec2008 rev - Add 'Quantum Awareness' anchor. Replace some fonts with gifs.)
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