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A Review
Henri Louis Bergson's Book
Time and Free Will
Chapter III: The Organization of Conscious States - Free Will
Topic 32: The Free Act
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
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Topic 32...............The Free Act


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

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


"Therefore, it is only an inaccurate psychology, misled by language [See our Quantonics Millennium III Language Remediation web page.] which will show us the soul determined by sympathy, aversion, or hate as though by so many forces
The soul is not an aggregate of conscious states. Freedom is self-expression, admitting of degrees, and may be curtailed by education. pressing upon it. These feelings, provided that they go deep enough, each make up the whole soul, since the whole content of the soul is reflected in each of them. To say that the soul is determined under the influence of any one of these feelings is thus to recognize that it is self-determined.
The associationist reduces the self to an aggregate of conscious states: sensations, feelings, and ideas. But if he sees in these various states no more than is expressed in their name, if he retains only their impersonal aspect, he may set them side by side for ever without getting anything but a phantom [defective] self, the shadow of the ego projecting itself into space. If, on the contrary, he takes these psychic states with the particular colouring which they assume in the case of a definite person, and which comes to each of them by [quantum~hologra[[il][m][ph]]ic]] reflection from all the others, then there is no need to associate a number of conscious states in order to rebuild [constitute] the person, for the whole personality is in a single one of them, provided that we know how to choose it. And the outward manifestation of this inner state will be just what is called a free act, since the self alone will have been the author of it, and since it will express the whole of the self."

(Our link, brackets, 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

Please obtain several facets~artefacts of Bergson's more than century old narrative:

  • He is describing a hologra[[il][m][ph]]ic quantum~reality,
  • He is using Gnosis as a foundation of th~¤ught,
  • He assumes perpetual and ubiquitous evolution of quanta,
  • He omnistinguishes:
    • Associationistc (as classically state-ic: stuxic: enslavedc by state), from
    • Associationistq (as quantumly spontaneous: fluxic: freedq by evolutionq),
  • He emphasizes voluntary determination as individualq free will based on perpetual and ubiquitous evolution's heretical quantized~scintillation selective acts of chance, choice, and change,
  • He omniscusses limits of individualq freeq willq in his subsequent pages of this topic and more, as voluntary determination in his Conclusion.
    • Individual free will is limitedq in its scopeq,
    • It is limitedq by its comtextq,
    • It is limited by its intensity~energyq,
    • It is limited by its quantum~ego's responsibilities to countless ensembles of other quantum~egos,
    • Yet individualq freeq willq always hologra[[il][m][ph]]ically ubiquitously and perpetually affectsq CH3ings "by degrees," qualitatively based upon its heretical pragma both with decision and in decision's apparent (often partialq) absence,
    • and so on...
  • etc.

Pure quantum~gnostic wisdom! Bravo!

Doug - 17Sep2013.


166 "Freedom, thus understood, is not absolute, as a radically libertarian philosophy would have it; it admits of degrees. For it is by no means the case that [due localized islands of quantum cohesion] all conscious states blend with one another as raindrops with the water of a lake [however, a 'conscious state' may act like an ocean tsunami soliton coherently affecting all 'conscious states' in an extreme partially coherent manner, i.e., e.g., vertical polarization of wave energy — a rough 'conscious state' analogue might be: epilepsy, narcolepsy, hypnosis, etc.]. The self, in so far as it has to do with a homogeneous [globally quantum coherent] space, develops on a kind of surface, and on this surface independent growths [quantum autonomous islands] may form and float. Thus a suggestion received in the hypnotic state is [quantum autonomous and islandic] not incorporated in the mass of conscious states, but, endowed with a life of its own, it will usurp [globally, like a quantum tsunami] the whole personality when its time comes. A violent anger roused by some accidental circumstance, an hereditary vice suddenly emerging from the obscure depths of the organism to the surface of consciousness, will act almost like a hypnotic suggestion. Alongside these independent elements there may be found more complex [quantum everywhere associative SON] series, the terms of which do permeate one another, but which never succeed in blending perfectly with the whole mass of the self. Such is the system of feelings and ideas which are the result of an education not properly assimilated, an education which appeals to the memory rather than to the judgment. Here will be found, within the fundamental self, a parasitic self which continually encroaches upon the other. Many live this kind of life, and die without having known true freedom."

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

This page is most incredible! Bergson, ~113 years ago, as you will see in our bracketed interpretations, appears to be describing a quantum mind's activities very closely to Jeffrey Satinover's descriptions in his 2001 The Quantum Brain! Why do we get this feeling that early quantum theorists were reading Bergson and using his quantum terminology? How could Bergson do this before (how could he anticipate) orthodox Copenhagen quantum theory even appeared?

First, Bergson is an extraordinary genius. Second, quantum reality — when we remove classical science's endarkenment (i.e., 18th century 'enlightened' blinders) — is quite natural to perceive! Compared to modern science dogma, reality is quantum "soft" vis-à-vis classical "hard." Unblindered real scientists, today, at Millennium III's commencement, are rediscovering reality's quantum softness via deeper playings.



"But suggestion would become persuasion if the entire self assimilated it; passion, even sudden passion, would no longer bear the stamp of fatality if the whole history of the person were reflected in it, as in the indignation of Alceste; (1) and the most authoritative education would not [may] curtail any of our freedom if it only imparted to us ideas and feelings capable of impregnating the whole soul. It is the whole soul, in fact, which gives rise to the free decision: and the act will be so much the freer the more the dynamic series with which it is connected tends to be the [quantum] fundamental self.

"Thus understood, free acts are exceptional, even on the part of those who are most given to [classically] controlling and reasoning out what they do.
Our every-day acts obey the laws of association. At great crises our decisions are really free as expressing the fundamental self. It has been pointed out that we generally perceive our own self by refraction through space, that our conscious states crystallize into words, and that our living and concrete self thus gets covered with an outer crust of clean-cut psychic states, which are [classically]
separated from one another and consequently fixed. We added that, for the convenience of language and the promotion of social relations, we have everything to gain by not breaking through this crust and by assuming it to give an exact outline of the form of the object which it covers. It should now be added that our daily actions are called forth not so much by our feelings themselves, which are constantly changing, as by the unchanging images with which these feelings are bound up."

Note (1): In Moliére's comedy Le Misanthrope, (Tr.).

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



Pogson interprets Bergson's uses of association here, as we view our uses of interrelationships among quantum ensembles: i.e., ensemble affects and outcomings where Valuative choosings (quantum intrinsic awareness — The Conscious Universe) ensemble-coobsfect affects and acausally select preferred ensemble outcomings which then become n¤vel tentative affects for subsequent ensemble selectings.

"Classical thing-kers are a bunch of politically correct, socially and self-encrusted role-players." SaS-ERPs "Hey Crusty, how ya' doin'?"


Who are we? Crust? Under-crust? Both crust and undercrust? Who are we?

Crust, to our Quantonics students and community, is what Pirsig calls our greatest evil, "Exclusive Static Quality." SaS-ERPs are the dichons of 'normal science,' 'normal philosophy,' 'normal psychology,' 'normal society,' etc. Society, nation, and state create ESQ by turning quantum individuals into classical crust!


168 "In the morning, when the hour strikes at which I am accustomed to rise, I might receive this impression sun olh th yuch, as Plato says; I might let it blend with the confused mass of impressions which fill my mind; perhaps in that case it would not determine me to act. But generally this impression, instead of disturbing my whole consciousness like a stone which falls into the water of a pond, merely stirs up an idea which is, so to speak, solidified on the surface, the idea of rising and attending to my usual occupations. This impression and this idea have in the end become tied up with one another, so that the act follows the impression without the self interfering with it. In this instance I am a conscious automaton, and I am so because I have everything to gain by being so. It will be found that the majority of our daily actions are performed in this way and that, owing to the solidification in memory of such and such sensations, feelings, or ideas, impressions from the outside call forth movements on our part which, though conscious and even intelligent, have many points of resemblance with reflex acts. It is to these acts, which are very numerous but for the most part insignificant, that the associationist theory is applicable. They are, taken all together, the substratum of our free activity, and with respect to this activity they play the same part as our organic functions in relation to the whole of our conscious life."

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

Please forgive our inadequate Greek fonts.






169 "Moreover we will grant to determinism that we often resign our freedom in more serious circumstances, and that, by sluggishness or indolence, we allow this same local process to run its course when our whole personality ought, so to speak, to vibrate. When our most trustworthy friends agree in advising us to take some important step, the sentiments which they utter with so much insistence lodge on the surface of our ego and there get solidified in the same way as the ideas of which we spoke just now. Little by little they will form a thick crust which will cover up our own sentiments; we shall believe that we are acting freely, and it is only by looking back to the past, later on, that we shall see how much we were mistaken. But then, at the very minute when the act is going to be performed, something may revolt against it. It is the deep-seated self rushing up to the surface. It is the outer crust bursting, suddenly giving way to an irresistible thrust. Hence in the depths of the self, below this most reasonable pondering over most reasonable pieces of advice, something else was going on—a gradual heating and a sudden boiling over of feelings and ideas, not unperceived, but rather unnoticed. If we turn back to them and carefully scrutinize our memory, we shall see that we had ourselves shaped these ideas, ourselves lived these feelings, but that, through some strange reluctance to exercise our will, we had thrust them back into the darkest depths of our soul whenever they came up to the surface."

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

Society's crust deprives us of genuine, individual free will.


However, individual free will may out!

This reads very much like Carl Gustave Jung in his Red Book!

Compare Jung's Spirit of this Time (large, TBTF society AKA 'the demiurge') vis-à-vis his Spirit of the Depths (small, quantum~self: finding one's individual inner). Doug - 17Sep2013.

TBTF: Too Big To Fail (actually is Too Big To Survive -- all societies always fail...even if failure happens slowly via quanton(chaos,equilibria)'s evolutionq...sociopaths view it as 'frog cooking' grape Kool Aide needed...). Doug.


170 "And this is why we seek in vain to explain our sudden change of mind by the visible circumstances which preceded it. We wish to know the reason why we have made up our mind, and we find that we have decided without any reason, and perhaps even against every reason. But, in certain cases, that is the best of reasons. For the action which has been performed does not then express some superficial idea, almost external to ourselves, distinct and easy to account for: it agrees with the whole of our most intimate feelings, thoughts and aspirations, with that particular conception of life which is the equivalent of all our past experience, in a word, with our personal idea of happiness and of honour. [Individual aretê!] Hence it has been a mistake to look for examples in the ordinary and even indifferent circumstances of life in order to prove that man is capable of [classically, causally, deterministically] choosing without a motive. It might easily be shown that these insignificant actions are bound up with some determining reason. It is at the great and solemn crisis, decisive of our reputation will others, and yet more with ourselves, that we choose in defiance of what is conventionally called a motive, and this absence of any tangible [classical] reason is the more striking the deeper our freedom goes." [Bravo! Bergson!]

(Our brackets, link, bold and color.)

Our free will helps us throw off classical society's crust! Helps us quantum jump/leap out of classicism's social detention centers of blindered formal and causal reason. Helps us throw off the classical Endarkenment.


In Pirsig's MoQ, and in Quantonics, we seek what Bergson describes here. We seek what presocratic, pre-Platonic, pre-Aristotelian sophists practiced: Individual aretê! See p. 342, out of 373 total pages, of Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Bantam paperback, 1980. See some quotes of that text at our The Birth of SOM.

At that link, Kitto's description of presocratic Greek contempt for a higher notion of classical simplifying "efficiency" aligns Bergson's contempt for societal encrustation of deep, i.e., quantum, individual excellence! This is an extraordinarily important nexus for students of Quantonics to inure. Persist! Doug - 26May2002.

For extreme students of Pirsig's MoQ, you may find it additionally worthwhile to read a Jon and Doug Dialogue on Pirsig's View of Virtue.


171 "But the determinist, even when he refrains from regarding the more serious emotions or deep seated psychic states as forces, nevertheless distinguishes them from one another and is thus led to a mechanical conception of the self.
Determinism sets on the one side the ego always self-identical, and on the other contrary feelings. But this is mere symbolism. He will show us this self hesitating between two contrary feelings, passing from one to the other and finally deciding in favour of one of them. The self and the feelings which stir it are thus treated as well defined objects, which remain identical during the whole of the process.
But if it is always the same self which deliberates, and if the two opposite feelings by which it is moved do not change, how, in virtue of this very principle of causality which determinism appeals to, will the self ever come to a decision? The truth is that the self, by the mere fact of experiencing the first feeling, has already changed to a slight extent when the second supervenes: all the time that the deliberation is going on, the self is changing and is consequently modifying the two feelings which agitate it. A dynamic series of [temporally radical quantized free will] states is thus formed which permeate and strengthen one another, and which will lead by a natural evolution to a free act. But determinism, ever craving for symbolical representation, cannot help substituting words for the opposite [we unclassically prefer "quantum complementary-"] feelings which share the ego between them, as well as for the ego itself. By giving first the person and then the feelings by which he is moved a fixed form by means of sharply defined words, it deprives them in advance of every kind of living activity. It will then see on the one side an ego always self-identical, and on the other contrary feelings, also self-identical, which dispute for its possession; victory will necessarily belong to the stronger."

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


Pogson interprets society's mechanical encrustation of deep quantum individualism as "symbolism." Wow!

Students, especially those of you in tertiary academic institutions, do you ever notice its encrustation of you? Are you a cog in some academic machine? Do your professors view students as cogs? Are you an academically socialized cog? Is your job similar? Are you a job cog? Church? Are you a church cog? Have you become a SaS-ERP? Have you become a Socially and Self-Encrusted Role Player? Have you allowed yourself to become a socialized classically deterministic machine engrooved by societal proselytizing mores?

If so, decide now, as you read this, to take back your personal quantum aretê! Doug.



"But this mechanism, to which we have condemned ourselves in advance, has no value beyond that of a symbolical representation: it cannot hold good against the witness of an attentive consciousness, which shows us inner dynamism as a fact.

"In short, we are free when our acts spring from our whole [quantum ensemble] personality, when they express it, when they have that indefinable
Freedom and character. The determinist next asks, could our act have been different or can it be foretold? resemblance to it which one sometimes finds between the artist and his work. It is no use asserting that we are then yielding to the all-powerful influence of our character. Our character is still ourselves; and because we are pleased to split the person into two parts so that by an effort of
abstraction we may consider in turn the self which feels or thinks and the self which acts, it would be very strange to conclude that one of the two selves is coercing the other. Those who ask whether we are free to alter our character lay themselves open to the same objection. Certainly our character is altering imperceptibly every day, and our freedom would suffer if these new acquisitions were grafted on to our self and not blended with it. But, as soon as this blending takes place, it must be admitted that the change which has supervened in our character belongs to us, that we have appropriated it. In a word, if it is agreed to call every act free which springs from the self and from the self alone, the act which bears the mark of our personality is truly free, for our self alone will lay claim to its paternity."

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








Bergson's remarks here are potent. If you are a classicist, a CRite or SOMite, a Newtonian, an Aristotelian, you will think of your own alterations as grafted, rather than blended.



"It would thus be recognized that free will is a fact, if it were agreed to look for it in a certain characteristic of the decision which is taken, in the free act itself. But the determinist feeling that he cannot retain his hold on this position, takes refuge in the past or the future. Sometimes he transfers himself in thought to some earlier period and asserts the necessary determination [classical prediction, predication, predicability], from this very moment, of the act which is to come; sometimes, assuming in advance that the [his] act is already performed, he claims that it could not have taken place in any other way. The opponents of determinism themselves willingly follow it on to this new ground and agree to introduce into their definition of our free act—perhaps not without some risk—the anticipation of what we might do and the recollection of some other decision which we might have taken. It is advisable, then, that we should place ourselves at this new point of view, and, setting aside all translation into words, all symbolism in space, attend to what pure consciousness alone shows us about an action that has come to pass or an action which is still to come. The original error of determinism and the mistake of its opponents will thus be grasped on another side, in so far as they bear explicitly on a certain misconception of duration."

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







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Doug Renselle
Quantonics, Inc.
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©Quantonics, Inc., 2001-2024 Rev. 17Sep2013  PDR Created: 23Feb2001  PDR
(21Jul2002 rev - Change QELR links to A-Z pages.)
(2Feb2004 rev - Correct p. 170 original text scanning error 'older' to 'order.')
(27Jul2004 rev - Emboldend 'individual free will' under p. 169 comments.)
(12May2008 rev - Reformat page.)
(25Apr2009 rev - Replace wingdings font with smiley gif.)
(12May2010 rev - Add p. 171 intratext bracketed red text comments.)
(17Sep2013 rev - Make page current. Slight reformating. Doug is using this text to make p. 224 commentary updates to Bergson's Conclusion.)

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