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A Review
Henri Louis Bergson's Book
Time and Free Will
Chapter I: The Intensity of Psychic States
Topic 9: Representative 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 9...............Representative Sensations


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

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


"We have studied the affective sensations separately, but we must now notice that many
The intensity of representative sensations. Many also affective and intensity is measured by reaction called forth. In others a new element enters. representative sensations possess an affective character, and thus call forth a reaction on our part which we take into account in estimating their intensity. A considerable increase of light is represented for us by a characteristic sensation which is not yet pain, but which is analogous to
dazzling. In proportion as the amplitude of sound-vibrations increases, our head and then our body, seem to us to vibrate or to receive a shock. Certain representative sensations, those of taste, smell and temperature, have a fixed character of pleasantness or unpleasantness. Between flavours which are more or less bitter you will hardly distinguish anything but differences of quality; they are like different shades of one and the same colour. But these differences of quality are at once interpreted as differences of quantity, because of their affective character and the more or less pronounced movements of reaction, pleasure or repugnance, which they suggest to us. Besides, even when the sensation remains purely representative, its external cause cannot exceed a certain degree of strength or weakness without inciting us to movements which enable us to measure it."

(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


Ah, the bain of human biformal existence: predilections to measure and quantify an immeasurable and unquantifiable, flux-is-crux quantum reality.

Why are we like this? We think it is mainly due our bi-lobed brains. Plus our early need for survival which required binary decision speed.

Can we unlearn our predilections. Yes! In Quantonics!


40 "Sometimes indeed we have to make an effort to perceive this sensation, as if it were trying to escape notice; sometimes on the other hand it obsesses us, forces itself upon us and engrosses us to such an extent that we make every effort to escape from it and to remain ourselves. In the former case the sensation is said to be of slight intensity, and in the latter case very intense. Thus, in order to perceive a distant sound, to distinguish what we call a faint smell or a dim light, we strain all our faculties, we "pay attention." And it is just because the smell and the light thus require to be reinforced by our efforts that they seem to us feeble. And, inversely, we recognize a sensation of extreme intensity by the irresistible reflex movements to which it incites us, or by the powerlessness with which it affects us. When a cannon is fired off close to our cars or a dazzling light suddenly flares up, we lose for an instant the consciousness of our personality this state may even last some time in the case of a very nervous subject. It must be added that, even within the range of the so-called medium intensities, when we are dealing on even terms with a representative sensation, we often estimate its importance by comparing it with another which it drives away, or by taking account of the persistence with which it returns. Thus the ticking of a watch seems louder at night because it easily monopolizes a consciousness almost empty of sensations and ideas." (Our bold and color.)

"Foreigners talking to one another in a language which we do not understand seem to us to speak very loudly, because their words no longer call up any ideas in our mind, and thus break in upon a kind of intellectual silence and monopolize our attention like the ticking of a watch at night. With these so-called medium sensations, however, we approach a series of psychic states, the intensity of which is likely to possess a new meaning. For, in most cases, the organism hardly reacts at all, at least in a way that can be perceived; and yet we still make a magnitude out of the pitch of a sound, the intensity of a light, the saturation of a colour. Doubtless, a closer observation of what takes place in the whole of the organism when we hear such and such a note or perceive such and such a colour has more than one surprise in store for us. Has not C. Féré shown that every sensation is accompanied by an increase in muscular force which can be measured by the dynamometer? (1) But of an increase of this kind there is hardly any consciousness at all, and if we reflect on the precision with which we distinguish sound, and colours, nay, even weights and temperatures, we shall easily guess that some new element must come into play in our estimate of them.

"Now, the nature of this element is easy to determine."

Note (1): C. Féré, Sensation et Mouvement. Paris, 1887.

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







42 "For, in proportion as a sensation loses its
The purely representative sensations are measured by their external causes. affective character and becomes representative, the reactions which it called forth on our part tend to disappear, but at the same time we perceive the external object
which is its cause, or if we do not now perceive it, we have perceived it, and we think of it. Now, this cause is extensive and therefore measurable: a constant experience, which began with the first glimmerings of consciousness and which continues throughout the whole of our life, shows us a definite shade of sensation corresponding to a definite amount of stimulation. We thus associate the idea of a certain quantity of cause with a certain quality of effect; and finally, as happens in the case of every acquired perception, we transfer the idea into the sensation, the quantity [intensity], of the cause into the quality of the effect. At this very moment the intensity, which was nothing but a certain shade or quality of the sensation, becomes a magnitude. We shall easily understand this process if, for example, we hold a pin in our right hand and prick our left hand more and more deeply. At first we shall feel as it were a tickling, then a touch which is succeeded by a prick, then a pain localized at a point, and finally, the spreading of this pain over the surrounding zone. And the more we reflect on it, the more clearly shall we see that we are here dealing with so many qualitatively distinct sensations, so many varieties of a single species. But yet we spoke at first of one and the same sensation which spread further and further, of one prick which increased in intensity. The reason is that, without noticing it, we localized in the sensation of the left hand, which is pricked, the progressive effort of the right hand, which pricks. We thus introduced the cause into the effect, and unconsciously interpreted quality as quantity, intensity as magnitude. Now, it is easy to see that the intensity of every representative sensation ought to be understood in the same way."

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




As Pirsig tells us, we transform Dynamic Quality into Static Quality. Our habit, carefully taught, carefully inured, is to repeatedly freeze-frame a quantum-animate reality. But that is really impossible, as Bergson so eloquently tells us, "We cannot analyze a process!" And quantum reality is an un-ending, unstoppable, animate process!

What are our most delightful and memorable experiences? Those when we are resonant in Dynamic Quality! When we are free from our habitual state-ic latching of DQ into SQ!

Can you see culture's role in our habituation of freeze-framing reality? Culture tries to make us all clones by adhering latched, state-ic mores. Culture wants us to adhere paradigms! That is why Pirsig tells us that culture is Static Quality. Culture is a state-ic trap! But so is paradigmatic classical intellect, he says! (Why does any great intellect despise culture? Because great intellect shall n¤t be trapped by culture, n¤r by state-ic thing-king! As Pirsig showed us, quantum-intellect morally rules culture n¤t as fundamentalists, Marxists, socialists, communists, Neandertalibanists, hive drones, et al. would have it vice versa.)

This is where Bergson and Pirsig come together. Let's show their coming together as quantons.

Pirsig: quanton(Dynamic_Quality,Static-Quality)

Bergson: quanton(Instinct_Intuition,Intuition_Intellect)

Also see a similar coming together with other philosophers and scientists in our 2000 News. See affectation.


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To contact Quantonics write to or call:

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

©Quantonics, Inc., 2001-2009 Rev. 12Mar2008  PDR Created: 23Feb2001  PDR
(23Jul2002 rev - Change QELR links to A-Z pages.)
(4Sep2002 rev - Add p. 42 comment link to Bergson's prescient statement about "not analyze process.")
(19May2003 rev - Add indices for 'intellect...')
(1Feb2005 rev - Reformat page top colors. Add GIF arrows in place of Wingdings fonts Repair p. 41 scanning faults.)
(26May2006 rev - Release page constraints. Adjust colors. Minor comment update and 'affectation' link added to page 42.)
(12Mar2008 rev - Reformat index and page slightly.)

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