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A Review
Henri Louis Bergson's Book
Time and Free Will
Chapter II: The Multiplicity of Conscious States - The Idea of Duration
Topic 21: Is Duration Measurable?
by Doug Renselle
Doug's Pre-review Commentary
Start of Review




Bibliography Author's
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17


18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 Conclusion Index

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

Topic 21...............Is Duration Measurable?


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

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


"But we find it extraordinarily difficult to think of duration in its original purity; this is due, no doubt,
Time, as dealt with by the astronomer and the physicist, does indeed seem to be measurable and therefore homogeneous. to the fact that we do not endure alone, external objects, it seems, endure as we do, and time, regarded from this point of view, has every appearance of a homogeneous medium. Not only do the moments of this duration seem to be external to one another, like bodies in space, but
the movement perceived by our senses is the, so to speak, palpable sign of a homogeneous and measurable duration. Nay more, time enters into the formulae of mechanics, into the calculations of the astronomer, and even of the physicist, under the form of a quantity. We measure the velocity of a movement, implying that time itself is a magnitude. Indeed, the analysis which we have just attempted requires to be completed, for if duration properly so-called cannot be measured, what is it that is measured by the oscillations of the pendulum?...

April 21, 2005 aside:

As of July, 2004 we are now able to answer Bergson's prescient query, and answer it well.

See our Quantum Pendulum.


  1. a pendulum could n¤t swing if reality were classically real,
  2. a pendulum Bergsonian~durationally ~measures and quantum~monitors, quanton(qualitatively,only_apparently_quantitatively), quantum~reality's absolute flux~motion,
  3. Zeno of Elea and Heraclitus tried to warn Greek SOMites about this ~2500 years ago, but were ignored, perhaps at best, misinterpreted.

end aside. Doug - 21Apr2005.

...Granted that inner duration, perceived by consciousness, is nothing else but the melting of states of consciousness into one another, and the gradual growth of the ego [see Doug's "quantum ego"], it will be said, notwithstanding, that the time which the astronomer introduces into his formulae, the time which our clocks divide into equal portions, this time, at least, is something different: it must be a measurable and therefore homogeneous magnitude.—It is nothing of the sort, however, and a close examination will dispel this last illusion."

(Our bold, color, and violet bold italic problematics.)

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
  • orange-bold - text ref'd by index pages
  • 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


Bergson asks another prescient question. A pendulum offers n¤ classical mechanical state. Why? It is in tentative flux. And that flux is qualitative, n¤t precisely quantitative. We cann¤t 'measure' its 'exact' end points of swing. We cann¤t 'measure' its 'exact' period. Why? It is quantum uncertain! A pendulum's swing is quantum chaotic! In said chaos is its own qualitative Value. However we can say that it behaves as a fermion: it wobbles! Its period flux ratioed to its direction flux is ½. Same applies to Earth's axial rotation and its Sun orbit: fermionic wobble! (Grab Sun and lift! Imagine Sun-Earth QVF-mediated gravitational pendulum arm. )

Another caveat which we must share here, and we should have shared it when we first did this review over two years ago, is how Bergson's use of thelogos acts as a Quantonics HotMemeKey SOM/CR Disabler™ in any attempts to grasp countless deeper, especially quantum, semantics of reality. We already know that Bergson shows us how mechanical thing-kers view spatial extensity (what we call quantum "actuality") as classically homogeneous.

However, classicists/mechanics also claim that they can use analysis (analytic differential and integral techniques) to cut that spatial extensity up (using SOM's knife) any way they want. (Recall Pirsig's views of actuality (SQ) as heterogeneous. See our web page on Pirsig vis-à-vis Bergson on Perspectives of Monism vis-à-vis Pluralism.)

Bergson in his query, "...what is it that is measured by the oscillations of the pendulum?" is acting/speaking/writing like a classicist. How? He says, "the oscillations" and "the pendulum." His view of spatial extensity (actuality) as a homogeneous monism apparently implored him to use thelogos here. Strike his first the and replace his second the with 'a.' Now it reads like this, "...what is it that is measured by [any] oscillations of a pendulum?" Now we can see, using our remediations of his grammar, that quantum heterogeneity lurks in Bergson's monism. So too, quantum uncertainty. All pendula oscillations are chaotic, and there are many pendula. This issue is what motivated us to write that web page linked just above. Now we can go right to crux of one of Quantonics' HotMemeKey Enablers: a quantum notion of many pendula begs quantum notions of many heterogeneous qualitative times (but still potentially quantum cohesive, compenetrating, and especially coobsfective times). Subsequently, Bergson declares heterogeneity of real times.
Doug - 11Feb2003.

Our hopes are asymptotic. Are we about to arrive at crux after all these years since our first read of Mae-wan Ho's the Rainbow and the Worm? Is this it? Folk, you cann¤t imagine heights of our anticipation...

108 "When I follow with my eyes on the dial of a clock the movement of the hand which corresponds to
But what we call measuring time is nothing but counting simultaneities. The clock taken as an illustration the oscillations of the pendulum, I do not measure duration, as seems to be thought; I merely count simultaneities, which is very different. Outside of me, in space, there is never more than a single position of the hand and
the pendulum, for nothing is left of the past positions. Within myself a process of organization or interpenetration of conscious states is going on, which constitutes true duration. It is because I endure in this way that I picture to myself what I call the past oscillations of the pendulum at the same time as I perceive the present oscillation. [Bergson tells us that his quantum meme of duration is "animately everywhere included-middle associative and c¤mplementary" across both current perceptual sensations and 'recalled, remembered' perceptual sensations. His durational time is n¤t classically excluded-middle 'synthetic' and 'manufacturable,' rather it is a heterogeneous quantum animate included-middle Gestalt of "pastings and nowings" interfusing and emerscenturing their pluralities in classically immeasurable ways. Classical immeasurability interrelates more recent memes surrounding and enfolding quantum uncertainty. So Bergson's duration and its quantum philosophical underpinnings are key enablers to understanding him. Our single quotes belie classicism's innate problematic terms.] Now, let us withdraw for a moment the ego which [statically, analytically, synthetically] thinks these so-called successive oscillations: there will never be more than a single oscillation [i.e., one model for all oscillations], and indeed only a single position [i.e., manufactured stability], of the pendulum, and hence no [animate] duration [all of which, his statements thus far on this page, describe ideal classically analyticity, staticity/stability, concept of number, etc.]. Withdraw, on the other hand, the pendulum and its oscillations [i.e., remove this synthetic classical model and]; there will no longer be anything but the heterogeneous duration of the ego, without [Aristotelian, excluded-middle] moments external to one another, without relation to [that most obfuscating of static classical concepts:] number. Thus, within our ego, there is succession without mutual externality; outside the ego, in pure space, mutual externality without succession: mutual externality, since the present oscillation is radically distinct from the previous oscillation, which no longer exists; but no succession, since succession exists solely for a conscious spectator who keeps the past in mind and sets the two oscillations or their symbols side by side in an auxiliary space." [Now, reader, compare this Bergsonian-depicted classical side-by-side with quantum everywhere included-middle association. Which is more real?]

(Our brackets, links, bold, color, and violet bold italic problematics.)

Bergson is introducing multiple classical concepts here. We need to list his as-used classical concepts as they are apparent to us, now, ~100 years after he wrote this text:

  • time as a magnitude (notice singular time)
  • time as a number (e.g., t0, t1, t2, etc.)
  • time as spatially extensible (e.g., space-time)
  • time as state-ic and analytically stoppable
  • etc.

Reader, you may note that we have now introduced new potentially culpable classical concepts which we must use to extend our list and which we must ponder philosophically:

Further, reader, ponder how we have yet to even delve into Bergson's more quantum meme of duration. Let us simplify this second list according our Quantonics beliefs. N¤ne of our extended list's classical concepts is statically viable, in general, in quantum reality! So, we can (should) expect Bergson to take another tack.

Quick question: Are pendula ever classically state-ic? What do you think? We deny your right to use a typical classical phrase "For all practical purposes" in your response. Why? Quantum reality is n¤t classically "practical." Quantum reality is absolute pragma which means absolute Planck rate action.

Dichon(ego, pure_space)! Dichon(mind, body)! This is pure classicism. For Millennium III we must replace this with quanton(mind,body) where as Pirsig told us, "Mind is in body and body is in mind...[quantum included-middle]...without classical contradiction." Slightly paraphrased and with our brackets. See Pirsig's Lila page 178 of a Bantam paperback or page 154 of a Bantam hardbound. Actual quote is:

"Mind is contained in static inorganic patterns. Matter is contained in static intellectual patterns. Both mind and matter are completely separate evolutionary levels of static patterns of value, and as such are capable of each containing the other without contradiction."

109 "Now, between this succession without externality and this externality without succession, a kind of [quantum included-middle] exchange takes place, very similar to what physicists call the phenomenon of endosmosis [Endosmosis is membrane (as a brain ~metaphor: corpus callosum) permeable flow from lower to higher concentrated fluid; for fun, think of this as akin a quantum molecular 'gravity,' with membrane as an artificial "surface of libration;" then consider libration as a Pirsigean classical 'knife;' and libration as a classical dichon; then rerun your thoughts to arrive at a quantum quanton.]. As the successive phases of our conscious life, although interpenetrating, correspond individually to an oscillation of the pendulum which occurs at the same time, and as, moreover, these oscillations are sharply distinguished from one another, we get into the habit of setting up the same distinction [cause] between the successive moments [sensations] of our conscious life: the oscillations of the pendulum [our CTMs classically, dichonically] break it up, so to speak, into [classically, infinitely divisible Aristotelian-] parts external to one another: hence the mistaken idea of a homogeneous inner duration, similar to space, the moments of which are identical and follow [via classical modular induction], without penetrating, one another. But, on the other hand, the oscillations of the pendulum, which are distinct only because one has [classically, apparently] disappeared when [yes, ask yourself reader, "exactly when?"] the other appears on the scene, profit, as it were, from the influence which they have thus exercised over our conscious life [To counter this classical view ask, "Which part or state of a pendulum's period 'predicts' a pendulum's next period?" See our QQA on cause-effect.]. Owing to the fact that our consciousness has organized them as a whole in memory, they are first preserved and afterwards disposed in a series: in a word, we [classically] create for them a fourth dimension of space, which we [classically] call homogeneous time, and which enables the movement of the pendulum, although taking place at one spot, to be continually set in [classically static] juxtaposition to itself."

(Our brackets, links, bold, color, and violet bold italic problematics.)

  • succession without externality (n¤nclassical endurings without classical 'space;' AKA classical subjective mind absent classical objective body)
  • externality without succession (n¤nclassical 'space' without classical 'analytically counted simultaneities;' AKA classical objective body absent classical subjective mind)

Classical depiction:

dichon(classical_mind, classical_body).

Quantum depiction:



A more quantum (w)holistic perspective is that each period of a pendulum emerges from most recent previous swings, and that emergence process involves included-middle everywhere associative interrelationships among said pendulum and potentially all other realities as its quantum c¤mplement.

Students of Quantonics should note here, that no classical formal axiomatic template, e.g. y=f(t), can ever analytically, state-ically, homogeneously, etc., describe this natural emergent quantum included-middle chaos. This is another impetus for why we say that classical science deludes its practitioners. Doug - 7Aug2002.

110 "Now, if we try to determine the exact part played by the real and the imaginary in this very complex process, this is what we find. There is a real space, without duration, in which phenomena appear and disappear simultaneously with our states of consciousness. There is a real duration, the heterogeneous [sequential, parallel, et al.,] moments of which permeate one another; each moment, however, can be brought into relation with a state of the [classical apparently] external world which is contemporaneous with it, and can be separated from the other moments in consequence of this very process. The [classical] comparison of these two realities gives rise to a symbolical representation of duration, derived from space. Duration thus assumes the [classically] illusory form of a homogeneous medium, and the connecting link between these two terms, space and duration, is simultaneity, which might be defined as the [classically excluded-middle-] intersection of time and space."

(Our bold, color, and violet bold italic problematics.)

But to us, in Quantonics, space without duration is n¤t quantum real!

Yes! Real duration (close memeotic kin of quantum~momentum) is quantized~heterogeneous and its quanta permeate apparently-homogeneous space. Red text updates and links 17Dec2009 - Doug.

Careful thought about what Bergson is saying here discloses his own intuitions re: quantum uncertainty. Also one sees vividly here how his notions of simultaneity and space require analytic stoppability. Classical measurement requires "zero momentum, unchanging reference frames." That classical requirement is just nonsense in quantum reality which is always changing and changes all. Doug - 2Mar2005.

See our MoQ I Reality Loop. We show a Bergsonian quanton as duration at reality's face of change twixt n¤nactuality (DQ) and actuality (SQ). We think of heterogeneous timings and spacings as quantum n¤mbæred actual artifacts of n¤nactuality's isocone.

Bergson has yet to answer his own question, "Is duration [classically] measurable?" This question is a near perfect analogue of John von Neumann's question, "Where is the locus of a quantum special event?" Von Neumann could n¤t find any specific measurement location! Why? Bergsonian duration is classically immeasurable due its intrinsic/physial quantum uncertainty!
Doug - 19-21May2002.

Begin aside:

Doug wants to offer you a simpler synopsis of what Doug believes Bergson is saying here.

Be sure to go to a link on 'simple,' since dialectical-simplicity does n¤t equal quantum~simplicity. HotMeme™ "Minimalism is anti-holographic." HotMeme™.

In Quantonics' quantum~flux and quantum~isoflux (reality's quantum~complements) are durational. What does that mean?

quantum~realityquantons(isoflux,flux) 1) - a quantum~description of reality

All quantum flux is durationally perpetual.

This graphic shows
quantized flux as green dotted, and
quantized isoflux as blue dotted.

Observe how said graphic itself
is visually quantum~complementary.
View green in front, then in back.
Classicists call that 'an illusion.'

Some symptoms of quantum flux are durational and some symptoms of quantum flux are endlessly mutating and transform both self and other. Examples of symptoms of quantum flux which are quantum~durationally perpetual include: protons, electrons, and photons. Some quarks like U and D are durationally perpetual once they have emerged, since they constitute what we mean by nucleons. Some quarks like TBCS are only tentative in their birthing processings of new born U and D quarks. See Doug's opus on Gravity as a Metameme of Acceleration.

Simply then flux itself is durational, and its symptoms are both durational while some are n¤n durational. HotMeme™ "Quantum~evolution wouldn't be possible without both perpetual duration and tentative duration complementing one another!" HotMeme™.

Bergson is saying that we cannot classically 'measure' duration. N¤r can we 'measure' flux! Neither is measurable, n¤r can they be represented by stopped scalar magnitudes! See Doug's QELR of monitor.

He is telling us that classical 'physical measurables' like time, space, and mass are simply not measureable since they are durational processes. (They aren't even defined! All classical physics finds its bases in 'undefined measurables!') We like to stop them using our classical mindsets to do so, but we make a huge Error when we pretend to stop unstoppable, durational, quantum flux.

Time, space and mass are all symptoms of quantum flux, and as such have to be, themselves, durational flux. Another way of saying that is, "Quantum flux issi a metameme of time, space, and mass." Bergson asks us to stop believing in classical measurables and start believing in time, space, and mass as process symptoms of perpetually durational quantum flux.

Stop thing-king of time, space and mass as 'state.' Start thinkqing of time, space, and mass as absolutely changing perpetual processings.

Our new political scene asks us to become all change we seek. That jibes fabulously with what Bergson is asking us to believe.

Doug agrees! Countless titans of thought who preceded us and Bergson agree!

Robert M. Pirsig agrees! William James agrees. William Durant agrees. Errol E. Harris agrees.

Doug - 5Nov2008.
PS - Essene Gn¤stic Jesus agrees too, and was preaching absolute change over two millennia ago! If you believe anything, believe that! He also said that anyone who called him "Christ" is Satan. Doug.

End aside.

Return to Chapter Index

To contact Quantonics write to or call:

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

©Quantonics, Inc., 2001-2013 Rev. 17Dec2009  PDR Created: 23Feb2001  PDR
(21Jul2002 rev - Change QELR links to A-Z pages.)
(7Aug2002 rev - Repair some minor typos. Extend page 109 comments. Add page 110 comment 'number' link.)
(11Feb2003 rev - Extend p. 107 comments on oscillations and pendula and thelogos.)
(17Jun2003 rev - Add Chapter Title link to Pogson's Index item on 'Duration.')
(2-3Mar2005 rev - Adjust some colors. Add p. 108 quantum pendulum link. Add p. 110 quantum uncertainty comments. Release page width constraints.)
(21Apr2005 rev - Add aside to p. 107 text.)
(7Oct2005 rev - Remove legacy red text from above.)
(31Jan2006 rev - Page 107 typo. Adjust text colors.)
(29Jan2008 rev - Reformat slightly.)
(5Nov2008 rev - Add p. 107 intra Bergson's text brackets with link to "Doug's quantum ego." Replace wingdings and symbol fonts with gifs. Reset legacy markups. Extensively update p. 110 comments.)
(17Dec2009 rev - Make page current. Reset legacy markups. Adjust colors. Update page 110 commentary.)

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