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A Review
Henri Louis Bergson's Book
Time and Free Will
Chapter I: The Intensity of Psychic States
Topic 8: Affective Sensations
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 8...............Affective Sensations


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

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


"Perhaps the difficulty of the latter problem is principally due to the fact that we are unwilling to
Affective sensation and organic disturbance. see in the affective state anything but the conscious expression of an organic disturbance, the inward echo of an outward cause.We notice that a more intense sensation generally corresponds to a greater nervous
disturbance; but inasmuch as these disturbances are unconscious as movements, since they come before consciousness in the guise of a sensation which has no resemblance at all to motion, we do not see how they could transmit to the sensation anything of their own magnitude. For there is nothing in common, we repeat, between superposable magnitudes such as, for example, vibration amplitudes, and sensations which do not occupy space."

(Our bold, color, violet bold italic problematics and violet bold 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, perhaps quantum and even gnostic 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




"If the more intense sensation seems to us to contain the less intense, if it assumes for us, like the physical impression itself, the form of a magnitude, the reason probably is that it retains something of the physical impression to which it corresponds. And it will retain nothing of it if it is merely the conscious translation of a movement of molecules; for, just because this movement is translated into the sensation of pleasure or pain, it remains unconscious as molecular movement.

"But it might be asked whether pleasure and pain, instead of expressing only what has just
Pleasure and pain as signs of the future reaction rather than psychic translations of the past stimulus. occurred, or what is actually occurring, in the organism, as is usually believed, could not also point out what is going to, or what is tending to take place. It seems indeed somewhat improbable that nature, so profoundly utilitarian, should have here assigned to consciousness the merely scientific task of informing us about the past or the present, which no longer depend upon us.
It must be noticed in addition that we rise by imperceptible stages from automatic to free movements, and that the latter differ from the former principally in introducing an affective sensation between the external action which occasions them and the volitional reaction which ensues. Indeed, all our actions might have been automatic, and we can surmise that there are many organized beings in whose case an external stimulus causes a definite reaction without calling up consciousness as an intermediate agent."

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




It is just another 'form' of classical dichotomy to assume "past or present no longer depend on us." Actually, we know Bergson does n¤t agree with this view either, since one of his greatest, most famous memes is that of duration, which happens to be many quantons like and analogous these triples:

  • pastings, presentings, and futurings;
  • happenings, happenings, impendings;
  • intuitionings, intellectualings, instinctualings;
  • comjugate_c¤mplementings, included-middlings, conjugate_complementings;
  • et al.

Please attempt to view each of our first three triples as:


where our middle term of each triple corresponds comma_no_space, i.e., Pirsig's "Direct Experience," Holden's "Edge of Now," quantum reality's included-middle, etc. In this case, "Direct Experience" is our quanton's actual complement, represented by comma_no_space. Each triple then is two quantons:

quanton(n¤nactuality,actuality) a general emerq

quanton(pastings,presentings) a specific emerq
quanton(futurings,presentings) a specific emerq

If we view comma_no_space as "Direct Experience," then we also can see that "Direct Experience," as a quantum included-middle, c¤mplements both other c¤mplements which is what we show in our fourth triple, and separately in our two specific quanton emerqs just above.

We are spending extra effort on this topic since it is such a crucial epiphany for you to understand that quantum reality's middle is included. All quantons' quantized energy distributions superpose, probabilistically, all other quantons' quantized energy distributions and even more all quantons are immersed in and mediated ubiquitously by isotropic QVF. These two quantum science memes are at heart of what we mean when we say, "quantum reality's middle(s) is(are) included."

It is an enormous philosophical mistake to use SOM's knife to sever time as dichon(past, present), dichon(present, future), and dichon(past, future).

We show above in our bullet list a new way of think-king about quantons. If you intuited what we are about to say, then you are a superb student of Quantonics! Congratulations!

Our fourth comjugate bullet probably is a good one to continue our exegeses. We can use some other present participle 'infinitive' triples to show what we intend:

  • n¤nactualizings, compenetratings, actualizings; and syntax of our quanton script
  • c¤mplementings, n¤-space-comma-ings, complementings.

Latter we simply show as:

quanton(c¤mplementings,complementings) AKA

So, you may now see how our scripted comma without any space sort of melts away and then reemerges as it should in its role of representing all animate quantum c¤mplementary included-middlings, n¤t classically static comma space SOM walls. And, you can see how those other bullets above may be shown as simple quantons!

Quantum included-middlings are one of nature's greatest miracles (though a greater one is fermionic wobble!). Without quantum included-middlings, e.g., oxidation of hydrogen could not emerse a liquid (water) from two gases. All other complex molecules in nature depend upon quantum included-middlings for their actualization in reality! As Pirsig might say, "That comma_no_space is where (almost) ALL the (least) actions are!" Doug - 23Feb2002.



"If pleasure and pain make their appearance in certain privileged beings, it is probably to call forth a resistance to the automatic reaction which would have taken place: either sensation has nothing to do, or it is nascent freedom. But how would it enable us to resist the reaction which is in preparation if it did not acquaint us with the nature of the latter by some definite sign? And what can this sign be except the sketching, and, as it were, the prefiguring of the future automatic movements in the very midst of the sensation which is being experienced? The affective state must then correspond not merely to the physical disturbances, movements or phenomena which have taken place, but also, and especially, to those which are in preparation, those which are getting ready to be.

"It is certainly not obvious at first sight how this hypothesis simplifies the problem. For we are
Intensity of affective sensations would then be our consciousness of the involuntary movements tending to follow the stimulus. trying to find what there can be in common, from the point of view of magnitude, between a physical phenomenon and a state of consciousness, and we seem to have merely turned the difficulty round by making the present state of consciousness a sign of the future reaction, rather than a psychic translation of the past stimulus. But the difference between the two
hypotheses is considerable. For the molecular disturbances which were mentioned just now are necessarily unconscious, since no trace of the movements themselves can be actually perceived in the sensation which translates them."

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



Bergson is now describing quantum phenomena. From a classical perspective reality is objective and causal. He, without saying explicitly such, tells us that consciousness and 'future' reaction are not classically causal, rather they are locally quantum coherent.

His scenario is very similar Pirsig's hot stove example. Causality requires temporal latency. Quantum conscious coherence, absent temporal latency, from a classical perspective, appears to "anticipate a future."



His use of "necessarily unconscious" implies to us a classical perspective of a quantum coherent quanton(unconsciousness,consciousness).



"But the automatic [quantum coherent] movements which tend to follow the stimulus as its natural outcome are likely to be conscious as movements: or else the sensation itself, whose function is to invite us to choose between this automatic reaction and other possible movements, would be of no avail. The intensity of affective sensations might thus be nothing more than our consciousness of the involuntary movements which are being begun and outlined, so to speak, within these states, and which would have gone on in their own way if nature had made us automata instead of conscious beings.

"If such be the case, we shall not compare a pain of increasing intensity to a note which grows
Intensity of a pain estimated by extent of organism affected. louder and louder, but rather to a symphony, in which an increasing number of instruments make themselves heard. Within the characteristic sensation, which gives the tone to all the others, consciousness distinguishes a larger or smaller number of sensations arising at different points of the periphery,
muscular contractions, organic movements of every kind: the choir of these elementary psychic states voices the new demands of the organism, when confronted by a new situation. In other words, we estimate the intensity of a pain by the larger or smaller part of the organism which takes interest in it. Richet (1) has observed that the slighter the pain, the more precisely is it referred to a particular spot; if it becomes more intense, it is referred to the whole of the member affected."

Note (1): L'homme et l'intelligence, p. 36.

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








Richet's observation fits what we know of quantum reality. A double-slit experiment run with many photons will exhibit a wide-area interference pattern. a double-slit experiment run with temporally separated photons will show localized 'pain' initially while spreading to generalized 'pain' as photons gradually accumulate, eventually producing a wide-area pattern like that described just above.



"And he concludes by saying that "the pain spreads in proportion as it is more intense." (1) We should rather reverse the sentence, and define the intensity of the pain by the very number and extent of the parts of the body which sympathize with it and react, and whose reactions are perceived by consciousness. To convince ourselves of this, it will be enough to read the remarkable description of disgust given by the same author: "If the stimulus is slight there may be neither nausea nor vomiting. . . . If the stimulus is stronger, instead of being confined to the pneumo-gastric nerve, it spreads and affects almost the whole organic system. The face turns pale, the smooth muscles of the skin contract, the skin is covered with a cold perspiration, the heart stops beating: in a word there is a general organic disturbance following the stimulation of the medulla oblongata, and this disturbance is the supreme expression of disgust." (2) But is it nothing more than its expression? In what will the general sensation of disgust consist, if not in the sum of these elementary sensations? And what can we understand here by increasing intensity, if it is not the constantly increasing number of sensations which join in with the sensations already experienced?"

Note (1): Ibid. p. 37. Note (2): Ibid. p. 43.

(Our brackets, bold and color.)



And Bergson, of course, is correct. Quantum intensity is n¤t analytic, n¤t proportional, as careful observation of our incremental photon double-slit experiment will show.

It may be helpful to readers, now CeodE 2009-2010, to see our more recent exegeses of both intensity and quantum~intensity. Doug - 15Dec2009.




"Darwin has drawn a striking picture of the reactions following a pain which becomes more and more acute. "Great pain urges all animals . . . to make the most violent and diversified efforts to escape from the cause of suffering. . . . With men the mouth may be closely compressed, or more commonly the lips are retracted with the teeth clenched or ground together. . . . The eyes stare wildly . . . or the brows are heavily contracted. Perspiration bathes the body. . . . The circulation and respiration are much affected." (1) Now, is it not by this very contraction of the muscles affected that we measure the intensity, of a pain? Analyse your idea of any suffering which you call extreme: do you not mean that it is unbearable, that is to say, that it urges the organism to a thousand different actions in order to escape from it? I can picture to myself a nerve transmitting a pain which is independent of all automatic reaction; and I can equally understand that stronger or weaker stimulations influence this nerve differently. But I do not see how these differences of sensation would be interpreted by our consciousness as differences of quantity unless we connected them with the reactions which usually accompany them', and which are more or less extended and more or less important."

"Without these subsequent reactions, the intensity of the pain would be a quality, and not a magnitude.

Note (1): The Expression ot the Emotions. 1st ed., pp. 72, 69, 70.

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







38 "We have hardly any other means of comparing several pleasures with one another. What do
Pleasures compared by
bodily inclination.
we mean by a greater pleasure except a pleasure that is preferred? And what can our preference be, except a certain disposition of our organs, the effect of which is that, when two pleasures are offered simultaneously to our
mind, our body inclines towards one of them? Analyse this inclination itself and you will find a great many little movements which begin and become perceptible in the organs concerned, and even in the rest of the body, as if the organism were coming forth to meet the pleasure as soon as it is pictured. When we define inclination as a movement, we are not using a metaphor. When confronted by several pleasures pictured by our mind, our body turns towards one of them spontaneously, as though by a reflex action. It rests with us to check it, but the attraction of the pleasure is nothing but this movement that is begun, and the very keenness of the pleasure, while we enjoy it, is merely the inertia of the organism, which is immersed in it and rejects every other sensation. Without this vis inertiae of which we become conscious by the very resistance which we offer to anything that might distract us, pleasure would be a state, but no longer a magnitude. In the moral as in the physical world, attraction serves to define movement rather than to produce it."

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






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Doug Renselle
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©Quantonics, Inc., 2001-2009 Rev. 12,14Mar2008  PDR Created: 23Feb2001  PDR
(21Jul2002 rev - Change QELR links to A-Z pages.)
(11Dec2005 rev - Adjust colors. Replace Wingding up arrows with GIF.)
(26May2006 rev - Release page constraints. Adjust colors.)
(27Feb2008 rev - Add p. 36 'Quantum Intensity' anchor.)
(12,14Mar2008 rev - Reformat index and page slightly. Embolden in dark green p. 36 'Quantum intensity' comment.)

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