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A Review
Henri Louis Bergson's Book
Time and Free Will

Translator's Preface
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

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Translator's Preface


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

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


"If a man were to inquire of
Nature the reason of her
creative activity, and if she
were willing to give ear
and answer, she would say-
'Ask me not, but understand
in silence, even as I am silent
and am not wont to speak.'"


(translated from original Greek; forgive our limited font set, weak Greek lingual skills, and a muddy original)

Kai ei ges de ghn fusin eroto tinoz eneka poiei ei tou erwtwntoz eqltoi epaiein kai legein, eipoi an. "ecrhn men mh erwtan, alla sunienai kai auton siwph, wsper egw siwpw kai ouk eiqismai legein."

Reviewer-relevant aside:

We want to quote an apropos remark by Renée Weber to David Bohm in their 1986 dialogue:

Renée Weber: "Still, I think to some people all this is going to seem very strange. First of all, it challenges everything we've known or been taught. Second, it appears to be counter-intuitive, certainly to those who have been trained in modern science. Third, it may appear frightening or threatening. So let's spell it out. You're saying that the events are always distinguishable, they have characteristics, they are what we call happenings, and they're the ones we've seized upon as what transpires in the world, as the world's business, so to speak. Those - you're saying - are secondary, derivative, and less important than the absence of all that. And the absence of all that is [only classically apparent] emptiness, silence."

Our brackets.

A reference for this quote is Lee Nichol's 2003-2004 The Essential David Bohm, Chapter 4.

Doug - 24Jun2006.

End reviewer-relevant aside.

"Henri Louis Bergson was born in Paris, October 18, 1859. He entered the Ecole normale in 1878, and was admitted agrégé de philosophie in 1881 and docteur ès lettres in 1889. After holding professorships in various provincial and Parisian lycées, he became maitre de conferences at the Ecole normale supérieure in 1897, and since 1900 has been professor at the Collège de France. In 1901 he became a member of the Institute on his election to the Académie des Sciences morales et politiques.

"A full list of Professor Bergson's works is given in the appended bibliography. In making the following translation of his Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience I have had the great advantage of his co-operation at every stage, and the aid which he has given has been most generous and untiring. The book itself was worked out and written during the years 1883 to 1887 and was originally published in 1889. The foot-notes in the French edition contain a certain number of references to French translations of English works. In the present translation I am responsible for citing these references from the original English."

(Our 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
  • 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

From our quantum perspective, Plotinus speaks rather well for nature. We might show mother nature as a quanton(complement_cloaked,complement_cloaked).


Reader, please note translator Pogson's extreme thelogos (see our violet bold italics in this particular paragraph to exemplify). This is our third Bergson translator we have evaluated (with thelogos percentage scores):

  1. 6.93% - Hulme, Introduction to Metaphysics,
  2. 7.17% - Mitchell, Creative evolution, and
  3. 7.27% - Pogson, Time and Free Will.

As you can see they are all, sadly, quite high. We are confident these gentlemen added a significant English classical-objective bent to Bergson's probably more quantum-subjective French lingual nuances.

You may wish to examine our comments regarding translator and author thelogos in our prereview commentary of Bergson's Creative Evolution which review we completed in November, 2000.
Doug - 14Mar2001.

Pogson's efforts for us appear now in hindsight as beyond individual prescience. For Doug, in mid-2008, seven years after having reviewed Bergson's Time and Free Will, that five names appear together here in said 'Translator's Preface' is profound: Bergson, Plotinus, Bohm, Weber, and Pogson.


Bergson, Pogson, Plotinus, probably Weber, and perhaps Bohm appear quantum~gnostic. At least to Doug they do!

Real gnosis, what Doug calls "Quantum Gn¤sis," is durational, multiplicate, evolutionary, emerscent, dynamic, and middle~inclusive. Real gnosis (quantum~wisdom) destroys classical notions of concrete, staticity, immutability, impenetrability, and most of all dialectic and all dialethic logics.

Doug - 28Jun2008.

vi "This will account for the fact that editions are sometimes referred to which have appeared subsequently to 1889. I have also added fairly extensive marginal summaries and a full index.

"In France the Essai is already in its seventh edition. Indeed, one of the most striking facts about Professor Bergson's works is the extent to which they have appealed not only to the professional philosophers, but also to the ordinary cultivated public. The method which he pursues is not the conceptual and abstract method which has been the dominant tradition in philosophy. For him reality is not to be reached by any elaborate construction of thought: it is given in immediate experience as a flux, a continuous process of becoming, to be grasped by intuition, by sympathetic insight. Concepts break up the continuous flow of reality into parts external to one another, they further the interests of language and social life and are useful primarily for practical purposes. But they give us nothing of the life and movement of reality; rather, by substituting for this an artificial reconstruction, a patchwork of dead fragments, they lead to the difficulties which have always beset the intellectualist philosophy, and which on its premises are insoluble. Instead of attempting a solution in the intellectualist sense, Professor Bergson calls upon his readers to put these broken fragments of reality behind them, to immerse themselves in the living stream of things and to find their difficulties swept away in its resistless flow."

(Our bold and color.)







All you students of Quantonics know we wholeheartedly agree! Bravo Bergson! Bravo Pogson for grasping Bergson's essence!

vii "In the present volume Professor Bergson first deals with the intensity of conscious states. He shows that quantitative differences are applicable only to magnitudes, that is, in the last resort, to space, and that intensity in itself is purely qualitative. Passing then from the consideration of separate conscious states to their multiplicity, he finds that there are two forms of multiplicity quantitative or discrete multiplicity involves the intuition of space, but the multiplicity of conscious states is wholly qualitative. This unfolding multiplicity constitutes duration, which is a succession without distinction, an interpenetration of elements so heterogeneous that former states can never recur. The idea of a homogeneous and measurable time is shown to be an artificial concept, formed by the intrusion of the idea of space into the realm of pure duration. Indeed, the whole of Professor Bergson's philosophy centres round his conception of real concrete duration and the specific feeling of duration which our consciousness has when it does away with convention and habit and gets back to its natural attitude. At the root of most errors in philosophy he finds a confusion between this concrete duration and the abstract time which mathematics, physics, and even language and common sense, substitute for it. Applying these results to the problem of free will, he shows that the difficulties arise from taking up one's stand after the act has been performed, and applying the conceptual method to it."

(Our bold and color. Need wingdings font.)


Bergson's intensity is more akin quantum superpositions of "own qualitative Values" of many heterogeneous quantum flux wave functions' interrelationships. Modern quantum science actually uses a more classical, objective, quantitative wave- or matrix-mechanics approach whose "eigenfunctions" of "eigenvectors (own vectors)" superpose radically mechanical (i.e., simple, classical mathematical addition), analytic magnitudes.

Here, Pogson gives a concise summary of Bergson's metaphysics of duration which is almost a pure analogue of quantum reality! Bergson's metaphysics is much easier to grasp, though, than quantum science. So if you learn what Bergson teaches, you will have some quantum groundwork at a working, palavering philosophical level. Plus, we offer many of our own heuristics and aids of understanding via philosophical, metaphysical, and scientific parables and examples.

Our major complaint is Pogson's and Bergson's uses of 'states.' Clearly Bergson's own duration has classical, stoppable, cinematographical 'states.' Similarly, quantum reality has n¤ classical 'states.'

Our next complaint is Bergson's use of 'concrete.' Classically, 'concrete' finds its 'definition' in an Aristotelian, substantial, material, objective reality. Bergson's duration is anything but substantial, material, and objective! We ask our readers to think "quantum real" and "flux durationally real" each time they read Bergson's 'concrete.'

viii "From the point of view of the living, developing self these difficulties are shown to be illusory, and freedom, though not definable in [classically inanimate] abstract or conceptual terms, is declared to be one of the clearest facts established by observation.

"It is no doubt misleading to attempt to sum up a system of philosophy in a sentence, but perhaps some part of the spirit of Professor Bergson's philosophy may be gathered from the motto which, with his permission, I have prefixed to this translation:—"If a man were to inquire of Nature the reason of her creative activity, and if she were willing to give ear and answer, she would say—'Ask me not, but understand in silence, even as I am silent and am not wont to speak.'"

June, 1910."

(Our brackets.)

However, Homo sapiens are social animals who communicate and want to understand better their own becoming, being, unbecoming, and isobeing — their own ontology. Plotinus tells us to, "Shut up." We think we are agents of Nature's own self awareness, parthenogenesis, and subsequent evolution. We think Nature implores us, "Naturally free sentients — you are Our c¤mplementary agents of absolute change. Speak up. Assist Our ongoing emergence of Us! To occurrently, quantally~emerge, ~grow, omniscriminate, and ~become better is intrinsically Real, Natural, and Moral."

What do we mean by Our and Us? We do not intend Nature speaking possessively about itself as classically separate from its spawn. We intend Pirsig's Herrigel's, "...We are in Nature (It) and Nature (It) is in Us..." We intend quanton(Nature,Nature's_creation). We intend a quantum both/and included-middle interrelationship. We do not intend a classical objective either/or excluded-middle dichon(Nature, Nature's_creation).

Doug Renselle
The Quantonics Society & Quantonics, Inc.
Suite 18 #368 1950 East Greyhound Pass
Carmel, INdiana 46033-7730
March 14, 2001

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To contact Quantonics write to or call:

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

©Quantonics, Inc., 2001-2011 Rev. 11May2009  PDR Created: 23Feb2001  PDR
(20Jan2002 rev - Correct some typos.)
(18Feb2002 rev - Minor textual comment upgrades.)
(21Jul2002 rev - Change QELR links to A-Z pages.)
(25Aug2002 rev - Add 'consensus' link to common sense above.)
(26May2003 rev - Add link to TaFW index 'D' 'duration.')
(26May2006 rev - Release page constraints. Adjust colors. Replace wingding arrows with GIFs. Slight textual reformatting to fit page's released constraints.)
(2Jun2006 rev - Repair title. Add Renée Weber quote under Pogson's quote of Plotinus.)
(20Oct2006 rev - Reset legacy red text.)

(28Jun2008 rev - Reformat. Add p. v comments.)
(3Dec2008 rev - Reformat. Replace wingding fonts with gifs. Reset legacy markups.)
(11May2009 rev - Add exegetical, mostly QELR, links to Doug's usages of aware, change, evolution, included-middle, occur, omniscriminate, quanta, reality, science, understand, wave, What is Gnosis?, and wisdom.)

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