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Bergson and His Philosophy by J. Alexander Gunn

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notation. It cannot do without Idealism: science itself oscillates from
the one system to the other. We cannot admit Parallelism as a dogma--as
a metaphysical truth--however useful it may be as a working hypothesis.

Bergson then proceeds to state and to criticize some of the mischievous
ideas which arise from Parallelism. There is the idea of a brain-soul,
of a spot where the soul lives or where the brain thinks--which we have
not quite abandoned since Descartes named the pineal gland as the seat
of the soul. Then there is the false idea that all causality is
mechanistic and that there is nothing in the universe which is not
mathematically calculable. There is the confusion of representations and
of things. There is the false notion that we may argue that if two
wholes are bound together there must be an equivalent relation of the
parts. Bergson points out in this connexion that the absence or the
presence of a screw can stop a machine or keep it going, but the parts
of the screw do not correspond to the parts of the machine. In his new
introduction to Matiere et Memoire, he said, "There is a close connexion
between a state of consciousness and the brain: this we do not dispute.
But there is also a close connexion between a coat and the nail on which
it hangs, for if the nail is pulled out the coat falls to the ground.
Shall we say then that the shape of the nail gives us the shape of the
coat or in any way corresponds to it? No more are we entitled to
conclude because the psychical fact is hung on to a cerebral state that
there is any parallelism between the two series psychical and
physiological." [Footnote: There must be an awkward misprint "physical"
for "psychical" in the English translation, p. xi.] Our observation and
experience, and science itself, strictly speaking, do not allow us to
assert more than that there exists a certain CORRESPONDENCE between
brain and consciousness. The psychical and the physical are inter-
dependent but not parallel.

Bergson however has more to assert than merely the inadequacy and
falsity of Parallelism or Epiphenomenalism. This last theory merely adds
consciousness to physical facts as a kind of phosphorescent gleam,
resembling, in Bergson's words, a "streak of light following the
movement of a match rubbed along a wall in the dark." [Footnote: L'Ame
et le Corps, pp. 12-13, in Le Materialisme actuel, or pp. 35-36 of
L'Energie spirituelle (Mind-Energy).] He maintains, as against all this,
the irreducibility of the mental, our utter inability to interpret
consciousness in terms of anything else, the life of the soul being
unique. He further claims that this psychical life is wider and richer
than we commonly suppose. The brain is the organ of attention to life.
What was said in regard to memory and the brain is applicable to all our
mental life. The mind or soul is wider than the brain in every
direction, and the brain's activity corresponds to no more than an
infinitesimal part of the activity of the mind. [Footnote: L'Ame et le
Corps, Le Materialisme actuel, p. 45, L'Energie spirituelle, p. 61.]
This is expressed more clearly in his Presidential Address to the
British Society for Psychical Research at the Aeolian Hall, London,
1913, where he remarked, "The cerebral life is to the mental life what
the movements of the baton of a conductor are to the symphony."
[Footnote: The Times, May 29, 1913.] Such a remark contains fruitful
suggestions to all engaged in Psychical Research, and to all persons
interested in the fascinating study of telepathy. Bergson is of the
opinion that we are far less definitely cut off from each other, soul
from soul, than we are body from body. "It is space," he says, "which
creates multiplicity and distinction. It is by their bodies that the
different human personalities are radically distinct. But if it is
demonstrated that human consciousness is partially independent of the
human brain, since the cerebral life represents only a small part of the
mental life, it is very possible that the separation between the various
human consciousnesses or souls, may not be so radical as it seems to
be." [Footnote: The Times, May 29, 1913.] There may be, he suggests, in
the psychical world, a process analogous to what is known in the
physical world as "endosmosis." Pleading for an impartial and frank
investigation of telepathy, he pointed out that it was probable, or at
least possible, that it was taking place constantly as a subtle and sub-
conscious influence of soul on soul, but too feebly to be noticed by
active consciousness, or it was neutralized by certain obstacles. We
have no right to deny its possibility on the plea of its being
supernatural, or against natural law, for our ignorance does not entitle
us to say what may be natural or not. If telepathy does not square at
all well with our preconceived notions, it may be more true that our
preconceived notions are false than that telepathy is fictitious;
especially will this be so if our notion of the relation of soul and
body be based on Parallelism. We must overcome this prejudice and seek
to make others set it aside. Telepathy and the sub-conscious mental life
combine to make us realize the wonder of the soul. It is not spatial, it
is spiritual. Bergson insists strongly on the unity of our conscious
life. Merely associationist theories are vicious in this respect: they
try to resolve the whole into parts, and then neglect the whole in their
concentration on the parts. All psychological investigation incurs this
risk of dealing with abstractions. "Psychology, in fact, proceeds like
all the other sciences by analysis. It resolves the self which has been
given to it at first in a simple intuition, into sensations, feelings,
ideas, etc., which it studies separately. It substitutes then for the
self a series of elements which form the facts of psychology. But are
these elements really parts? That is the whole question, and it is
because it has been evaded that the problem of human personality has so
often been stated in insoluble terms." [Footnote: Introduction to
Metaphysics, p. 21.] "Personality cannot be composed of psychical states
even if there be added to them a kind of thread for the purpose of
joining the states together." [Footnote: Introduction to Metaphysics, p.
25.] We shall never make the soul fit into a category or succeed in
applying concepts to our inner life. The life of the soul is wider than
the brain and wider than all intellectual constructions or moulds we may
attempt to form. It is a creative force capable of producing novelty in
the world: it creates actions and can, in addition, create itself.

Philosophy shows us "the life of the body just where it really is, on
the road that leads to the life of the spirit"; our powers of sense
impression and of intelligence are both instruments in the service of
the will. With a little will one can do much if one places the will in
the right direction. For this force of will which is the essence of the
soul or personality has these exceptional characteristics, that its
intensity depends on its direction, and that its quality may become the
creator of quantity. [Footnote: See the lectures La Nature de l'Ame.]
The brain and the body in general are instruments of the soul. The brain
orients the mind toward action, it is the point of attachment between
the spirit and its material environment. It is like the point of a knife
to the blade--it enables it to penetrate into the realm of action or, to
give another of Bergson's metaphors, it is like the prow of the ship,
enabling the soul to penetrate the billows of reality. Yet, for all
that, it limits and confines the life of the spirit; it narrows vision
as do the blinkers which we put on horses. We must, however, abandon the
notion of any rigid and determined parallelism between soul and body and
accustom ourselves to the fact that the life of the mind is wider than
the limits of cerebral activity. And further, there is this to consider-
-"The more we become accustomed to this idea of a consciousness which
overflows the organ we call the brain, then the more natural and
probable we find the hypothesis that the soul survives the body. For
were the mental exactly modelled on the cerebral, we might have to admit
that consciousness must share the fate of the body and die with it."
[Footnote: New York Times, Sept. 27, 1914.] "But the destiny of
consciousness is not bound up with the destiny of cerebral matter."
[Footnote: Creative Evolution, p. 285 (Fr. p. 293).] "Although the data
is not yet sufficient to warrant more than an affirmation of high
probability," [Footnote: Louis Levine's interview with Bergson, New York
Times, Feb. 22, 1914. Quoted by Miller, Bergson and Religion, p. 268.]
yet it leaves the way open for a belief in a future life and creates a
presumption in favour of a faith in immortality. "Humanity," as Bergson
remarks, "may, in its evolution, overcome the most formidable of its
obstacles, perhaps even death." [Footnote: Creative Evolution, p. 286
(Fr. p. 294). In Life and Consciousness he says we may admit that in man
at any rate "Consciousness pursues its path beyond this earthly life"
Cf. also conclusion to La Conscience el la Vie in L'Energie spirituelle,
p. 29, and to L'Ame et le Corps, in the same vol., p. 63.]

The great error of the spiritual philosophers has been the idea that by
isolating the spiritual life from all the rest, by suspending it in
space, as high as possible above the earth, they were placing it beyond
attack; as if they were not, thereby, simply exposing it to be taken as
an effect of mirage! Certainly they are right to believe in the absolute
reality of the person and in his independence of matter: but science is
there which shows the inter-dependence of conscious life and cerebral
activity. When a strong instinct assures the probability of personal
survival, they are right not to close their ears to its voice; but if
there exist "souls" capable of an independent life, whence do they come?
When, how, and why do they enter into this body which we see arise quite
naturally from a mixed cell derived from the bodies of its two parents?
[Footnote: Creative Evolution, p. 283 (Fr. p. 291).] At the close of the
Lectures on La Nature de l'Ame, Bergson suggests, by referring to an
allegory of Plotinus, in regard to the origin of souls, that in the
beginning there was a general interpenetration of souls which was
equivalent to the very principle of life, and that the history of the
evolution of life on this planet shows this principle striving until
man's consciousness has been developed, and thus personalities have been
able to constitute themselves. "Souls are being created which, in a
sense, pre-existed. They are nothing else but the little rills into
which the great river of life divides itself, flowing through the great
body of humanity." [Footnote: Creative Evolution, p. 284 (Fr. p. 292).]

CHAPTER VI

TIME--TRUE AND FALSE

Our ordinary conception of Time false because it is spatial and
homogeneous--Real Time (la duree) not spatial or homogeneous--Flow of
consciousness a qualitative multiplicity--The real self and the external
self. La duree and the life of the self--No repetition--Personality and
the accumulation of experience-Change and la duree as vital elements in
the universe.

For any proper understanding of Bergson's thought, it is necessary to
grasp his views regarding Time, for they are fundamental factors in his
philosophy and serve to distinguish it specially from that of previous
thinkers. It is interesting to note however, in passing, that Dr. Ward,
in his Realm of Ends, claims to have anticipated Bergson's view of
Concrete Time. In discussing the relation of such Time to the conception
of God, he says, "I think I may fairly claim to have anticipated him
(Bergson) to some extent. In 1886 I had written a long paragraph on this
topic." [Footnote: See The Realm of Ends' foot-note on pp. 306-7. Ward
is referring to his famous article in the Encyclopaedia Britannica,
eleventh edition, Psychology, p. 577 (now revised and issued in book
form as Psychological Principles).] Be this as it may, no philosopher
has made so much of this view of Time as Bergson. One might say it is
the corner-stone of his philosophy, for practically the whole of it is
built upon his conception of Time. His first large work, Essai sur les
donnees immediates de la conscience, or, to give it its better title, in
English, Time and Free Will, appeared in 1889.

Our ordinary conception of Time, that which comes to us from the
physical sciences, is, Bergson maintains, a false one. It is false
because so far from being temporal in character, it is spatial. We look
upon space as a homogeneous medium without boundaries; yet we look on
Time too, as just such another medium, homogeneous and unlimited. Now
here is an obvious difficulty, for since homogeneity consists in being
without qualities, it is difficult to see how one homogeneity can be
distinguished from another. This difficulty is usually avoided by the
assertion that homogeneity takes two forms, one in which its contents
co-exist, and another in which they follow one another. Space, then, we
say, is that homogeneous medium in which we are aware of side-by-
sideness, Time--that homogeneous medium in which we are aware of an
element of succession. But this surely we are not entitled to maintain,
for we are then distinguishing two supposed homogeneities by asserting a
difference of quality in them. To do so is to take away homogeneity. We
must think again and seek a way out of this difficulty. Let us admit
space to be a homogeneous medium without bounds. Then every homogeneous
medium without bounds must be space. What, then, becomes of Time?--for
on this showing, Time becomes space. Yes, says Bergson, that is so, for
our common view of Time is a false one, being really a hybrid
conception, a spurious concept due to the illicit introduction of the
idea of space, and to our application of the notion of space, which is
applicable to physical objects, to states of consciousness, to which it
is really inapplicable. Objects occupying space are marked out as
external to one another, but this cannot be said of conscious states.
Yet, in our ordinary speech and conventional view of things, we think of
conscious states as separated from one another and as spread out like
"things," in a fictitious, homogeneous medium to which we give the name
Time. Bergson says, "At any rate, we cannot finally admit two forms of
the homogeneous, Time and Space, without first seeking whether one of
them cannot be reduced to the other. Now, externality is the
distinguishing mark of things which occupy space, while states of
consciousness are not essentially external to one another and become so
only by being spread out in Time regarded as a homogeneous medium. If,
then, one of these two supposed forms of the homogeneous, viz., Time and
Space, is derived from the other, we can surmise a priori that the idea
of space is the fundamental datum. Time, conceived under the form of an
unbounded and homogeneous medium, is nothing but the ghost of space,
haunting the reflective consciousness." [Footnote: Time and Free Will,
p. 98 (Fr. p. 75).] Bergson remarks that Kant's great mistake was to
take Time as a homogeneous medium. [Footnote: Time and Free Will, p. 232
(Fr. p. 178).]

Having asserted the falsity of the view of Time ordinarily held, Bergson
proceeds to make clear to us his view of what Real Time is--an
undertaking by no means easy for him, endeavouring to lay before us the
subtleties of this problem, nor for us who endeavour to interpret his
language and grasp his meaning. We are indeed here face to face with
what is one of the most difficult sections of his philosophy. An initial
difficulty meets us in giving a definite name to the Time which Bergson
regards as so real, as opposed to the spatial falsity, masquerading as
Time, whose true colours he has revealed. In the original French text
Bergson employs the term duree to convey his meaning. But for the
translation of this into English there is no term which will suffice and
which will adequately convey to the reader, without further exposition,
the wealth of meaning intended to be conveyed. "Duration" is usually
employed by translators as the nearest approach possible in English. The
inadequacy of language is never more keenly felt than in dealing with
fundamental problems of thought. Its chief mischief is its all-too-
frequent ambiguity. In the following remarks the original French term la
duree will be used in preference to the English word "Duration."

The distinction between the false Time and true Time may be regarded as
a distinction between mathematical Time and living Time, or between
abstract and concrete Time. This living, concrete Time is that true Time
of which Bergson endeavours to give us a conception as la duree. He has
criticized the abstract mathematical Time, his attack having been made
to open up the way for a treatment of what he really considers Time to
be. Now, from the arguments previously mentioned, it follows that Time,
Real Time, which is radically different from space, cannot be any
homogeneous medium. It is heterogeneous in character. We are aware of it
in relation to ourselves, for it has reference not to the existence of a
multiplicity of material objects in space, but to a multiplicity of a
quite different nature, entirely non-spatial, viz., that of conscious
states. Being non-spatial, such a multiplicity cannot be composed of
elements which are external to one another as are the objects existing
in space. States of consciousness are not in any way external to one
another. Indeed, they interpenetrate to such a degree that even the use
of the word "state" is apt to be misleading. As we saw in the chapter on
The Reality of Change, there can be strictly no states of consciousness,
for consciousness is not static but dynamic. Language and conventional
figures of speech, of which the word "state" itself is a good example,
serve to cut up consciousness artificially, but, in reality, it is, as
William James termed it, "a stream" and herein lies the essence of
Bergson's duree--the Real as opposed to the False Time. "Pure Duration"
(la duree pure), he says, "is the form which the succession of our
conscious states assumes when our Ego lets itself live, when it refrains
from separating its present state from its former states. For this
purpose, it need not be entirely absorbed in the passing sensation or
idea, for then, on the contrary, it would no longer 'endure.' Nor need
it forget its former states; it is enough that in recalling these
states, it does not set them alongside its actual state as one point
alongside another, but forms both the past and the present states into
an organic whole, as happens when we recall the notes of a tune,
melting, so to speak, into one another. Might it not be said that even
if these notes succeed one another, yet, we perceive them in one
another, and that their totality may be compared to a living being whose
parts, although distinct, permeate one another just because they are so
closely connected?" [Footnote: Time and Free Will, p. 100 (Fr. p. 76).]
Such a duration is Real Time. Unfortunately, we, obsessed by the idea of
space, introduce it unwittingly and set our states of consciousness side
by side in such a way as to perceive them alongside one another; in a
word, we project them into space and we express duree in terms of
extensity and succession thus takes the form of a continuous line or a
chain--the parts of which touch without interpenetrating one another.
[Footnote: Time and Free Will, p. 100 (Fr. p. 76).] Thus is brought to
birth that mongrel form, that hybrid conception of False Time criticized
above. Real Time, la duree, is not, however, susceptible like False Time
to measurement, for it is, strictly speaking, not quantitative in
character, but is rather a qualitative multiplicity. "Real Duration (la
duree reele) is just what has always been called Time, but it is Time
perceived as indivisible." [Footnote: La Perception du Changement, p.
26. Cf. the whole of the Second Lecture.] Certainly pure consciousness
does not perceive Time as a sum of units of duration, for, left to
itself, it has no means and even no reason to measure Time, but a
feeling which lasted only half the number of days, for example, would no
longer be the same feeling for it. It is true that when we give this
feeling a certain name, when we treat it as a thing, we believe that we
can diminish its duration by half, for example, and also halve the
duration of all the rest of our history. It seems that it would still be
the same life only on a reduced scale. But we forget that states of
consciousness are processes and not things; that they are alive and
therefore constantly changing, and that, in consequence, it is
impossible to cut off a moment from them without making them poorer by
the loss of some impression and thus altering their quality. [Footnote:
Time and Free Will, p. 196 (Fr. p. 150).] La duree appears as a "wholly
qualitative multiplicity, an absolute heterogeneity of elements which
pass over into one another." [Footnote: Time and Free Will, p. 229 (Fr.
p. 176).] Such a time cannot be measured by clocks or dials but only by
conscious beings, for "it is the very stuff of which life and
consciousness are made." Intellect does not grasp Real Time--we can only
have an intuition of it. "We do not think Real Time--but we live it
because life transcends intellect."

In order to bring out the distinctly qualitative character of such a
conception of Time, Bergson says, "When we hear a series of blows of a
hammer, the sounds form an indivisible melody in so far as they are pure
sensations, and here again give rise to a dynamic progress; but, knowing
that the same objective cause is at work, we cut up this progress into
phases which we then regard as identical; and this multiplicity of
elements no longer being conceivable except by being set out in space--
since they have now become identical--we are, necessarily, led to the
idea of a homogeneous Time, the symbolical image of la duree."
[Footnote: Time and Free Will, p. 125 (Fr. pp. 94-95).] "Whilst I am
writing these lines," he continues, "the hour strikes on a neighbouring
clock, but my inattentive ear does not perceive it until several strokes
have made themselves heard. Hence, I have not counted them and yet I
only have to turn my attention backwards, to count up the four strokes
which have already sounded, and add them to those which I hear. If,
then, I question myself carefully on what has just taken place, I
perceive that the first four sounds had struck my ear and even affected
my consciousness, but that the sensations produced by each one of them,
instead of being set side by side, had melted into one another in such a
way as to give the whole a peculiar quality, to make a kind of musical
phrase out of it. In order, then, to estimate retrospectively, the
number of strokes sounded, I tried to reconstruct this phrase in
thought; my imagination made one stroke, then two, then three, and as
long as it did not reach the exact number, four, my feeling, when
consulted, was qualitatively different. It had thus ascertained, in its
own way, the succession of four strokes, but quite otherwise than by a
process of addition and without bringing in the image of a juxtaposition
of distinct terms. In a word, the number of strokes was perceived as a
quality and not as a quantity; it is thus that la duree is presented to
immediate consciousness and it retains this form so long as it does not
give place to a symbolical representation, derived from extensity."
[Footnote: Time and Free Will, pp. 127-8 (Fr. pp. 96-97).] In these
words Bergson endeavours to drive home his contention that la duree is
essentially qualitative. He is well aware of the results of "the breach
between quality and quantity," between true duration and pure extensity.
He sees its implications in regard to vital problems of the self, of
causality and of freedom. Its specific bearing on the problems of
freedom and causality we shall discuss in the following chapter. As
regards the self, Bergson recognizes that we have much to gain by
keeping up the illusion through which we make our conscious states share
in the reciprocal externality of outer things, because this distinctness
and solidification enables us to give them fixed names in spite of their
instability, and distinct names in spite of their interpenetration.
Above all it enables us to objectify them, to throw them out into the
current of social life. But just for this very reason we are in danger
of living our lives superficially and of covering up our real self. We
are generally content with what is but a shadow of the real self,
projected into space. Consciousness, goaded on by an insatiable desire
to separate, substitutes the symbol for the reality or perceives the
reality only through the symbol. As the self thus refracted and thereby
broken in pieces, is much better adapted to the requirements of social
life in general, and of language in particular, consciousness prefers it
and gradually loses sight of the fundamental self which is a qualitative
multiplicity of conscious states flowing, interpenetrating, melting into
one another, and forming an organic whole, a living unity or
personality. It is through a consideration of la duree and what it
implies that Bergson is led on to the distinction of two selves in each
of us.

Towards the close of his essay on Time and Free Will, he points out that
there are finally two different selves, a fundamental self and a social
self. We reach the former by deep introspection which leads us to grasp
our inner states as living things, constantly becoming, never amenable
to measure, which permeate one another and of which the succession in la
duree has nothing in common with side-by-sideness. But the moments at
which we thus grasp ourselves are rare; the greater part of our time we
live outside ourselves, hardly perceiving anything of ourselves but our
own ghost--a colourless shadow which is but the social representation of
the real and largely concealed Ego. Hence our life unfolds in space
rather than in time. We live for the external world rather than for
ourselves, we speak rather than think, we are "acted" rather than "act"
ourselves. To act freely, however, is to recover possession of one's
real self and to get back into la duree reele. [Footnote: Time and Free
Will, p. 232 (Fr. p. 178).]

Real Time, then, is a living reality, not discrete, not spatial in
character--an utter contrast to that fictitious Time with which so many
thinkers have busied themselves, setting up "as concrete reality the
distinct moments of a Time which they have reduced to powder, while the
unity which enables us to call the grains 'powder' they hold to be much
more artificial. Others place themselves in the eternal. But as their
eternity remains, notwithstanding, abstract since it is empty, being the
eternity of a concept which by hypothesis excludes from itself the
opposing concept, one does not see how this eternity would permit of an
indefinite number of moments co-existing in it, an eternity of death,
since it is nothing else than the movement emptied of the mobility which
made its life." [Footnote: An Introduction to Metaphysics, pp. 51-54.]
The true view of Time, as la duree, would make us see it as a duration
which expands, contracts, and intensifies itself more and more; at the
limit would be eternity, no longer conceptual eternity, which is an
eternity of death, but an eternity of life and change--a living, and
therefore still moving, eternity in which our own particular duree would
be included as the vibrations are in light, [Footnote: Speaking in
Matter and Memory on the Tension of la duree, Bergson calls attention to
the "trillions of vibrations" which give rise to our sensation of red
light, p. 272 (Fr. p. 229) Cf. La Conscience et la Vie in L'Energie
spirituelle, p. 16.] an eternity which would be the concentration of all
duree. Altering the old classical phrase sub specie aeternitatis, to
suit his special view of Time, Bergson urges us to strive to perceive
all things sub specie durationis. [Footnote: La Perception du
Changement, p. 36.]

Finally, Bergson reminds us that if our existence were composed of
separate states, with an impassive Ego to unite them, for us there would
be no duration, for an Ego which does not change, does not endure. La
duree, however, is the foundation of our being and is, as we feel, the
very substance of the world in which we live. Associating his view of
Real Time with the reality of change, he points out that nothing is more
resistant or more substantial than la duree, for our duree is not merely
one instant replacing another--if it were there would never be anything
but the present, no prolonging of the past into the actual, no growth of
personality, and no evolution of the universe. La duree is the
continuous progress of the past which gnaws into the future and which
swells as it advances, leaving on all things its bite, or the mark of
its tooth. This being so, consciousness cannot go through the same state
twice; history does never really repeat itself. Our personality is being
built up each instant with its accumulated experience; it shoots, grows,
and ripens without ceasing. We are reminded of George Eliot's lines:

"Our past still travels with us from afar
And what we have been makes us what we are."

For our consciousness this is what we mean by the term "exist." "For a
conscious being, to exist is to change, to change is to mature, and to
go on creating oneself endlessly." [Footnote: Creative Evolution, p. 8
(Fr. p. 8).] Real Time has, then, a very vital meaning for us as
conscious beings, indeed for all that lives, for the organism which
lives is a thing that "endures." "Wherever anything lives," says
Bergson, "there is a register in which Time is being inscribed. This, it
will be said, is only a metaphor. It is of the very essence of mechanism
in fact, to consider as metaphorical every expression which attributes
to Time an effective action and a reality of its own. In vain does
immediate experience show us that the very basis of our conscious
existence is Memory--that is to say, the prolongation of the past into
the present, or in a word, duree, acting and irreversible." [Footnote:
Creative Evolution, p. 17 (Fr. pp. 17-18).] Time is falsely assumed to
have just as much reality for a living being as for an hour-glass. But
if Time does nothing, it is nothing. It is, however, in Bergson's view,
vital to the whole of the universe. He expressly denies that la duree is
merely subjective; the universe "endures" as a whole. In Time and Free
Will it did not seem to matter whether we regarded our inner life as
having duree or as actually being duree. In the first instance, if we
have duree it is then only an aspect of reality, but if our personality
itself is duree, then Time is reality itself. He develops this last
point of view more explicitly in his later works, and la duree is
identified not only with the reality of change, but with memory and with
spirit. [Footnote: La Perception du Changement, Lecture 2.] In it he
finds the substance of a universe whose reality is change. "God," said
Plato, "being unable to make the world eternal, gave it Time--a moving
image of reality." Bergson himself quotes this remark of Plato, and
seems to have a vision like that of Rosetti's "Blessed Damozel," who
...... "saw
Time like a pulse shake fierce
Through all the worlds."

The more we study Time, the more we may grasp this vision ourselves, and
then we shall comprehend that la duree implies invention, the creation
of new forms, the continual elaboration of the absolutely new--in short,
an evolution which is creative.

CHAPTER VII

FREEDOM OF THE WILL

Spirit of man revolts from physical and psychological determinism--
Former examined and rejected--The latter more subtle--Vice of
"associationism"--Psychology without a self. Condemnation of
psychological determinism--Room for freedom--The self in action--
Astronomical forecasts--Foreseeableness of any human action impossible--
Human wills centres of indetermination--Not all our acts free--True
freedom, self-determination.

Before passing on to an examination of Bergson's treatment of Evolution,
we must consider his discussion of the problem of Freedom of the Will.
Few problems which have occupied the attention of philosophers have been
more discussed or have given rise to more controversy than that of
Freedom. This is, of course, natural as the question at issue is one of
very great importance, not merely as speculative, but also in the realm
of action. We ask ourselves: "Are we really free?" Can we will either of
two or more possibilities which are put before us, or, on the other
hand, is everything fixed, predestined in such a way that an all-knowing
consciousness could foretell from our past what course our future action
would take?

The study of the physical sciences has led to a general acceptance of a
principle of causality which is of such a kind that there seems no place
in the universe for human freedom. Further, there is a type of
psychology which gives rise to the belief that even mental occurrences
are as determined as those of the physical world, thus leaving no room
for autonomy of the Will. But even when presented with the arguments
which make up the case for physical or psychological determinism, the
spirit of man revolts from it, refuses to accept it as final, and
believes that, in some way or other, the case for Freedom may be
maintained. It is at this point that Bergson offers us some help in the
solution of the problem, by his Essai sur les donnees immediates de la
conscience, better described by its English title Time and Free Will.

The arguments for physical determinism are based on the view that
Freedom is incompatible with the fundamental properties of matter, and
in particular, with the principle of the conservation of energy. This
principle "has been assumed to admit of no exception; there is not an
atom either in the nervous system or in the whole of the universe whose
position is not determined by the sum of the mechanical actions which
the other atoms exert upon it. And the mathematician who knew the
position of the molecules or atoms of a human organism at a given
moment, as well as the position and motion of all the atoms in the
universe, capable of influencing it, could calculate with unfailing
certainty the past, present, and future actions of the person to whom
this organism belonged, just as one predicts an astronomical
phenomenon." [Footnote: Time and Free Will, p. 144 (Fr. p. 110).] Now,
it follows that if we admit the universal applicability of such a theory
as that of the conservation of energy, we are maintaining that the whole
universe is capable of explanation on purely mechanical principles,
inherent in the units of which the universe is composed. Hence, the
relative position of all units at a given moment, whatever be their
nature, strictly determines what their position will be in the
succeeding moments, and this mechanistic succession goes on like a
Juggernaut car with crushing unrelentlessness, giving rise to a rigid
fatalism:

"The moving finger writes; and having writ
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
Nor all thy tears wash out a Word of it."

Is there no way out of this cramping circle? We feel vaguely,
intuitively, that there is. Bergson points out to us a way. Even if we
admit, he says, that the direction and the velocity of every atom of
matter in the universe (including cerebral matter, i.e., the brain,
which is a material thing) are strictly determined, it would not at all
follow from the acceptance of this theorem that our mental life is
subject to the same necessity. For that to be the case, we should have
to show absolutely that a strictly determined psychical state
corresponds to a definite cerebral state. This, as we have seen, has not
been proved. It is admitted that to some psychical states of a limited
kind certain cerebral states do correspond, but we have no warrant
whatever for concluding that, because the physiological and the
psychological series exhibit some corresponding terms, the two series
are absolutely parallel. "To extend this parallelism to the series
themselves, in their totality, is to settle a priori the problem of
freedom." [Footnote: Time and Free Will, p. 147 (Fr. pp. 112-113).] How
far the two series do run parallel is a question--as we saw in the
chapter on the relation of Soul and Body--for experience, observation,
and experiment to decide. The cases which are parallel are limited, and
involve facts which are independent of the power of the Will.

Bergson then proceeds to an examination of the more subtle and plausible
case for psychological determinism. A very large number of our actions
are due to some motive. There you have it, says the psychological
determinist. Your so-called Freedom of the Will is a fiction; in reality
it is merely the strongest motive which prevails and you imagine that
you "freely willed it." But then we must ask him to define "strongest,"
and here is the fallacy of his argument, for there is no other test of
which is the strongest motive, than that it has prevailed. Such
statements do not help to solve the difficulty at all, for they avoid it
and attempt to conceal it; they are due to a conception of mind which is
both false and mischievous, viz., Associationism. This view regards the
self as a collection of psychical states. The existing state of
consciousness is regarded as necessitated by the preceding states. As,
however, even the associationist is aware that these states differ from
one another in quality, he cannot attempt to deduce any one of them a
priori from its predecessors. He therefore endeavours to find a link
connecting the two states. That there is such a link as the simple
"association of ideas" Bergson would not think of denying. What he does
deny however, very emphatically, is the associationist statement that
this relation which explains the transition is the cause of it. Even
when admitting a certain truth in the associationist view, it is
difficult to maintain that an act is absolutely determined by its
motive, and our conscious states by one another. The real mischief of
this view lies, however, in the fact, that it misrepresents the self by
making it merely a collection of psychical states. John Stuart Mill
says, in his Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy: "I could
have abstained from murder if my aversion to the crime and my dread of
its consequences had been weaker than the temptation which impelled me
to commit it." [Footnote: Quoted by Bergson, Time and Free Will, p. 159
(Fr. p. 122).] Here desire, aversion, fear, and temptation are regarded
as clear cut phenomena, external to the self which experiences them, and
this leads to a curious balancing of pain and pleasure on purely
utilitarian lines, turning the mind into a calculating machine such as
one might find in a shop or counting-house, and taking no account of the
character of the self that "wills." There is, really, in such a system
of psychology, no room for self-expression, indeed, no meaning left for
the term "self." It is only an inaccurate psychology, misled by
language, which tries to show us the soul determined by sympathy,
aversion, or hate, as though by so many forces pressing upon it from
without. These feelings, provided that they go deep enough, make up the
whole soul; in them the character of the individual expresses itself,
since the whole content of the personality or soul is reflected in each
of them. Then my character is "me." "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 self, the shadow of the
Ego, projecting itself into space. If, on the contrary, he takes these
psychical states with the particular colouring which they assume in the
case of a definite person, and which comes to each of them by reflection
from all the others, then there is no need to associate a number of
conscious states in order to rebuild 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."
[Footnote: Time and Free Will, pp. 165-166 (Fr. pp. 126-127).] There is
then room in the universe for a Freedom of the human Will, a definite
creative activity, delivering us from the bonds of grim necessity and
fate in which the physical sciences and the associationist psychology
alike would bind us. Freedom, then, is a fact, and among the facts which
we observe, asserts Bergson, there is none clearer. [Footnote: Time and
Free Will, p. 221 (Fr. p. 169).] There are, however, one or two things
which bear vitally upon the question of Freedom and which tend to
obscure the issue. Of these, the foremost is that once we have acted in
a particular manner we look back upon our actions and try to explain
them with particular reference to their immediate antecedents. Here is
where the mischief which gives rise to the whole controversy has its
origin. We make static what is essentially dynamic in character. We call
a process a thing. There is no such "thing" as Freedom; it is a relation
between the self and its action. Indeed, it is only characteristic of a
self IN ACTION, and so is really indefinable. Viewed after the action,
it presents a different aspect; it has then become historical, an event
in the past, and so we try to explain it as being caused by former
events or conditions. This casting of it on to a fixed, rigid plan,
gives action the appearance of having characteristics related to space
rather than to time, in the real sense. As already shown in the previous
chapter, this is due entirely to our intellectual habit of thinking in
terms of space, by mathematical time, rather than in terms of living
time or la duree.

Another point which causes serious confusion in the controversy is the
notion that because, when an act has been performed, its antecedents may
be reckoned up and their value and relative importance or influence
assigned, this is equivalent to saying the actor could not have acted in
any other way than he did, and, further, that his final act could have
been foretold from the events which led up to it. It is a fact that in
the realm of physical science we can foretell the future with accuracy.
The astronomer predicts the precise moment and place in which Halley's
comet will become visible from our earth. It is also a fact that we say
of men and women who are our intimate friends: "I knew he (or she) would
do such and such a thing" or "It's just like him." We base our judgment
on our intimate acquaintance with the character of our friend, but this,
as Bergson points out, "is not so much to predict the future conduct of
our friend as to pass a judgment on his present character--that is to
say, on his past." [Footnote: Time and Free Will, p. 184 (Fr. p. 140).]
For, although our feelings and our ideas are constantly changing, yet we
feel warranted in regarding our friend's character as stable, as
reliable. But, as Mill remarked in his Logic: "There can be no science
of human nature," because, although we trust in the reliability of our
friend, although we have faith in his future actions, we do not, and can
not, know them. "Tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner." To say that, if
we knew all the conditions, motives, fears, and temptations which led up
to the actions of another, we could foretell what he would do, amounts
to saying that, to do so, we should have actually to become that other
person, and so arrive at the point where we act as he did because we are
him. For Paul to foretell Peter's act, Paul would simply have to become
Peter. [Footnote: Time and Free Will, p. 187 (Fr. p. 144).] The very
reasons which render it possible to foretell an astronomical phenomenon
are the very ones which prevent us from determining in advance an act
which springs from our free activity. For the future of the material
universe, although contemporaneous with the future of a conscious being,
has no analogy to it. The astronomer regards time from the point of view
of mathematics. He is concerned with points placed in a homogeneous
time, points which mark the beginning or end of certain intervals. He
does not concern himself with the interval in its actual duration. This
is proved by the fact that, could all velocities in the universe be
doubled, the astronomical formulae would remain unaffected, for the
coincidences with which that science deals would still take place, but
at intervals half as long. To the astronomer as such, this would make no
difference, but we, in ourselves, would find that our day did not give
us the full experience. Situations which arose as a result of the
introduction of "summer time" serve to make this point clear. As then we
find that time means two different things for the astronomer and the
psychologist, the one being concerned with the points at the extremities
of intervals, and the other with the enduring reality of the intervals
themselves, we can see why astronomical phenomena are capable of
prediction and see too that, for the same reason, events in the realm of
human action cannot be so predicted and therefore the future is not
predetermined but is being made.

Upon exactly parallel lines lie the references to causality in the
controversy. In the physical realm events may recur, but in the mental
realm the same thing can never happen again because we are living in
real, flowing time, or la duree, and our conscious states are changing.
Admitting that there is that in experience which warrants the
application of the principle of causality, taking that principle as the
statement that physical phenomena once perceived can recur, and that a
given phenomenon, happening only after certain conditions, will recur
when those precise conditions are repeated, [Footnote: See the brief
paper Notre croyance a la loi de causalite, Revue de metaphysique et de
morale, 1900.] still it remains open whether such a regularity of
succession is ever possible in the human consciousness, and so the
assertion of the principle of causality proves nothing against Freedom.
We may admit that the principle is based on experience--but what kind of
experience? Consideration of this question leads us to assert that the
principle of causality only tends to accentuate the difference between
objects in a realm wherein regular succession may be observed and
predicted and a realm where it may not be observed or predicted, the
realm of the self. Just because I endure and change I do not necessarily
act to-day as I acted yesterday, when under like conditions. We do
expect, however, that this will not be the case in the physical realm;
for example, we expect that a flame applied to dry paper will always set
it alight. Indeed, the more we realize the causal relation as one of
necessary determination, we come to see that things do not exist as we
do ourselves, and distinction between physical and psychical events
becomes clear. We perceive that we, in ourselves, are centres of
indetermination enjoying Freedom, and capable of creative activity.

We must, however, be careful to observe that such Freedom as we have is
not absolute at all and that it admits of degrees. All our acts are by
no means free. Indeed, Free Will is exceptional, and many live and die
without having known true Freedom. Our everyday life consists in the
performance of actions which are largely habitual or, indeed, automatic,
being determined not by Free Will, but by custom and convention. Our
Freedom is the exception and not the rule. Through sluggishness or
indolence, we jog on in the even tenor of a way towards which habit has
directed us. Even at times when our whole personality ought to vibrate,
finding itself at the cross-roads, it fails to rise to the occasion.
But, says Bergson, "it is at the great and solemn crises, decisive of
our reputation with others, and yet more with ourselves, that we choose
in defiance of what is conventionally called a motive, and this absence
of any tangible reason, is the more striking the deeper our Freedom
goes." [Footnote: Time and Free Will, p. 170 (Fr. p. 130).] At such
times the self feels itself free and says so, for it feels itself to be
creative. "All determinism will thus be refuted by experience, but every
attempt to define Freedom will open the way to determinism." [Footnote:
Time and Free Will, p. 330 (Fr. p. 177).]

It has been urged that, although Bergson is a stanch upholder of
Freedom, it is Freedom of such a kind that it must be distinguished from
Free Will, that is, from the liberty of choice which indeterminists have
asserted and which determinists have denied; and that the Freedom for
which he holds the brief is not the feeling of liberty that we have when
confronted with alternative courses of action, or the feeling we have
when we look back upon a choice made and an action accomplished, that we
need not have acted as we did, and that we could have acted differently.
Such Freedom it has been further maintained, is of little importance to
us, for it is merely a free, creative activity which is the essence of
life, which we share with all that lives and so cannot be styled "human"
Freedom. Now, although many of Bergson's expressions, in regard to free,
creative activity in general, lead to a connexion of this with the
problem of "human" Freedom, such an identification would seem to be
unfair. This seems specially so when we read over carefully his remarks
about the coup d'etat of the fundamental self in times of grave crisis.
We cannot equate this with a purely biological freedom or vitality, or
spontaneity. But in the light of the criticism which has been made, it
will be well to consider, in concluding this chapter, the statements
made by Bergson in his article on Liberty in the work in connexion with
the Vocabulaire philosophique for the Societe francaise de philosophie:
[Footnote: Quoted by Le Roy in his Une nouvelle philosophie: Henri
Bergson, English Translation (Benson), Williams and Norgate, p. 192.]
"The word Liberty has for me a sense intermediate between those which we
assign, as a rule, to the two terms 'Liberty' and 'Free Will.' On one
hand I believe that 'Liberty' consists in being entirely oneself, in
acting in conformity with oneself; it is then to a certain degree the
'moral liberty' of philosophers, the independence of the person with
regard to everything other than itself. But that is not quite this
Liberty, since the independence I am describing has not always a moral
character. Further, it does not consist in depending on oneself as an
effect depends on the cause which, of necessity, determines it. In this,
I should come back to the sense of 'Free Will.'" And yet, he continues,
"I do not accept this sense either, since Free Will, in the usual
meaning of the term, implies the equal possibility of two contraries,
and, on my theory, we cannot formulate or even conceive, in this case,
the thesis of the equal possibility of the two contraries, without
falling into grave error about the nature of Time. The object of my
thesis has been precisely to find a position intermediate between 'moral
Liberty' and 'Free Will.' Liberty, such as I understand it, is situated
between these two terms, but not at equal distances from both; if I were
obliged to blend it with one of the two, I should select 'Free-Will.'"
Nor is Liberty to be reduced to spontaneity. "At most, this would be the
case in the animal world where the psychological life is principally
that of the affections. But in the case of a man, a thinking being, the
free act can be called a synthesis of feelings and ideas, and the
evolution which leads to it, a reasonable evolution." [Footnote: Matter
and Memory, p. 243 (Fr. p. 205).] "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." [Footnote: Time and Free
Will, p. 172 (Fr. p. 132). It is interesting to compare with this the
remark by Nietzsche in Also sprach Zarathustra, Thus Spake
Zarathustra,--"Let your Ego be in relation to your acts that which the
mother is in relation to the child."] The secret of the solution lies
surely here, and in the words given above: "Liberty consists in being
entirely oneself." If we act rightly we shall act freely, and yet be
determined. Yet here there will be no contradiction, for we shall be
self-determined. It is only the man who is self-determined that can in
any sense be said to know the meaning of "human" Freedom. "We call
free," said Spinoza, "that which exists in virtue of the necessities of
its own nature, and which is determined by itself alone." Liberty is not
absolute, for then we ourselves would be at the beck and call of every
external excitation, desire, passion, or temptation. Our salvation
consists in self-determination, so we shall avoid licence but preserve
Freedom. We can only repeat the Socratic maxim--"Know thyself"--and
resolve to take to heart the appeal of our own Shakespeare:

"To thine own self be true!"

CHAPTER VIII

EVOLUTION

Work of Darwin and Spencer--Bergson's L'Evolution creatrice--Life--
L'elan vital--Evolution not progress in a straight line--Adaptation an
insufficient explanation--Falsity of mechanistic view--Finalist
conception of reality as fulfilling a plan false--Success along certain
lines only--Torpor, Instinct, and Intelligence--Genesis of matter--
Humanity the crown of evolution--Contingency and Freedom--The Future is
being created.

Since the publication of Darwin's famous work on The Origin of Species
in 1859, the conception of Evolution has become familiar and has won
general acceptance in all thinking minds. Evolution is now a household
word, but the actual study of evolutionary process has been the work of
comparatively few. Science nowadays has become such a highly specialized
affair, that few men cover a large enough field of study to enable them
to deal effectively with this tremendous subject. What is more, those
who shouted so loudly about Evolution as explaining all things have come
to see that, in a sense, Evolution explains nothing by itself. Mere
description of facts undoubtedly does serve a very useful purpose and
may help to demolish some of the stanchly conservative theories still
held in some quarters by those who prefer to take Hebrew conceptions as
a basis of their cosmology however irreconcilable with fact these may
prove to be. Mere description, however, is not ultimate, some philosophy
of Evolution must be forthcoming. "Nowadays," remarks Hoffding, "every
philosopher has to take up a position with respect to the concept of
Evolution. It has now achieved its place among the categories or
essential forms of thought by the fact of its providing indications
whence new problems proceed. We must ask regarding every event, and
every phenomenon, by what stages it has passed into its actual state. It
is a special form of the general concept of cause. A philosophy is
essentially characterized by the position which it accords to this
concept and by the way in which it applies it." [Footnote: The
Philosophy of Evolution--lecture IV, of Lectures on Bergson, in Modern
Philosophers, Translated by Mason (MacMillan), p. 270.]

No one has done more to make familiar to English minds the notion of
Evolution than Herbert Spencer. His Synthetic Philosophy had a grand
aim, but it was manifestly unsatisfactory. The high hopes it had raised
were followed by mingled disappointment and distrust. The secret of the
unsatisfactoriness of Spencer is to be found in his method, which is an
elaborate and plausible attempt to explain the evolution of the universe
by referring the complex to the simple, the more highly organized to the
less organized. His principle of Evolution never freed itself from
bondage to mechanical conceptions.

Bergson's Creative Evolution, his largest and best known work, appeared
in 1907. It has been regarded not only as a magnificent book, but as a
date in the history of thought. Two of the leading students of
evolutionary process in England, Professors Geddes and Thomson, refer to
the book as "one of the most profound and original contributions to the
philosophical consideration of the theory of Evolution." [Footnote: In
the Bibliography in their volume Evolution.]

For some time there had been growing a need for an expression of
evolutionary theory in terms other than those of Spencer, or of Haeckel-
-the German monistic philosopher. The advance in the study of biology
and the rise of Neo-Vitalism, occasioned by an appreciation of the
inadequacy of any explanation of life in terms purely physical and
chemical, made the demand for a new statement, in greater harmony with
these views, imperative. To satisfy this demand is the task to which
Bergson has applied himself. He sounds the note of departure from the
older conceptions right at the commencement by his very title,
'Creative' Evolution. For this, his views on Change, on Time, and on
Freedom, have in some degree prepared us. We have seen set forth the
fact of Freedom, the recognition of human beings as centres of
indetermination, not mere units in a machine, "a block universe" where
all is "given," but creatures capable of creative activity. Then by a
consideration of Time, as la duree, we found that the history of an
individual can never repeat itself; "For a conscious being, to exist is
to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating
oneself endlessly. Should the same be said," Bergson asks, "of existence
in general?" [Footnote: Creative Evolution, p. 8 (Fr. p. 8).]

So he proceeds to portray with a wealth of analogy and brilliance of
style, more akin to the language of a poet than a philosopher, the
stupendous drama of Evolution, the mystery of being, the wonders of
life. He makes the great fact of life his starting point. Is life
susceptible to definition? We feel that, by the very nature of the case,
it is not. A definition is an intellectual operation, while life is
wider, richer, more fundamental than intellect. Indeed Bergson shows us
that intellect is only one of the manifestations or adaptations of life
in its progress. To define life, being strictly impossible, Bergson
attempts to describe it. He would have us picture it as a great current
emerging from some central point, radiating in all directions, but
diverted into eddies and backwaters. Life is an original impetus, une
poussee formidable, not the mere heading affixed to a class of objects
which live. We must not speak any longer of life in general as an
abstraction or a category in which we may place all living beings. Life,
or the vital impulse, consists in a demand for creation, we might almost
say "a will to create." It appears to be a current passing from one germ
to another through the medium of a developed organism, "an internal push
that has carried life by more and more complex forms, to higher and
higher destinies." It is a dynamic continuity, a continuity of
qualitative progress, a duration which leaves its bite on things.
[Footnote: For these descriptions of life, see Creative Evolution, pp.
27-29 and 93-94 (Fr. pp. 28-30 and 95-96).] We shall be absolutely
wrong, however, if we attempt to view the evolutionary process as
progressive in a straight line. The facts contradict such a facile and
shallow view. Some of the stock phrases of the earlier writers on
Evolution were: "adaptation to environment," "selection" and
"variation," and a grave problem was presented by this last. How are we
to account for the variations of living beings, together with the
persistence of their type? Herein lies the problem of the origin of
species. Three different solutions have been put forward. There is the
"Neo-Darwinian" view which attributes variation to the differences
inherent in the germ borne by the individual, and not to the experience
or behaviour of the individual in the course of his existence. Then
there is the theory known as "Orthogenesis" which maintains that there
is a continual changing in a definite direction from generation to
generation. Thirdly, there is the "Neo-Lamarckian" theory which
attributes the cause of variation to the conscious effort of the
individual, an effort passed on to descendants. [Footnote: Concerning
Lamarck (1744-1829) Bergson remarks in La Philosophie (1915) that
without diminishing Darwin's merit Lamarck is to be regarded as the
founder of evolutionary biology.] Now each one of these theories
explains a certain group of facts, of a limited kind, but two
difficulties confront them. We find that on quite distinct and widely
separated lines of Evolution, exactly similar organs have been
developed. Bergson points out to us, in this connexion, the Pecten genus
of molluscs, which have an eye identical in structure with that of the
eye of vertebrates. [Footnote: The common edible scallop (Pecten
maximus) has several eyes of brilliant blue and of very complex
structure.] It is obvious, however, that the eye of this mollusc and the
eye of the vertebrate must have developed quite independently, ages
after each had been separated from the parent stock. Again, we find that
in all organic evolution, infinite complexity of structure accompanies
the utmost simplicity of function. The variation of an organ so highly
complex as the eye must involve the simultaneous occurrence of an
infinite number of variations all co-ordinated to the simple end of
vision. Such facts as these are incapable of explanation by reference to
any or all of the three theories of adaptation and variation mentioned.
Indeed they seem capable of explanation only by reference to a single
original impetus retaining its direction in courses far removed from the
common origin. "That adaptation to environment is the necessary
condition of Evolution we do not question for a moment. It is quite
evident that a species would disappear, should it fail to bend to the
conditions of existence which are imposed on it. But it is one thing to
recognize that outer circumstances are forces Evolution must reckon
with, another to claim that they are the directing causes of Evolution."
[Footnote: Creative Evolution, p. 107 (Fr. p. 111).]

"The truth is that adaptation explains the sinuosities of the movement
of Evolution, but not the general directions of the movement, still less
the movement itself. The road which leads to the town is obliged to
follow the ups and downs of the hills; it adapts itself to the accidents
of the ground, but the accidents of the ground are not the cause of the
road nor have they given it its direction." [Footnote: Creative
Evolution, p. 108 (Fr. p. 112).] The evolution of life cannot be
explained as merely a series of adaptations to accidental circumstances.
Moreover, the mechanistic view, where all is "given," is quite
inadequate to explain the facts. The finalist or teleological conception
is not any more tenable, for Evolution is not simply the realization of
a plan. "A plan is given in advance. It is represented or at least
representable, before its realization. The complete execution of it may
be put off to a distant future or even indefinitely, but the idea is
none the less formulable at the present time, in terms actually given.
If, on the contrary, Evolution is a creation unceasingly renewed, it
creates as it goes on, not only the forms of life but the ideas that
enable the intellect to understand it. Its future overflows its present
and cannot be sketched out therein, in an idea. There is the first error
of finalism. It involves another yet more serious. If life realizes a
plan it ought to manifest a greater harmony the further it advances,
just as the house shows better and better the idea of the architect as
stone is set upon stone." [Footnote: Creative Evolution, p. 108 (Fr. p.
112).] Such finalism is really reversed mechanism. If, on the contrary,
the unity of life is to be found solely in the impetus (poussee
formidable) that pushes it along the road of Time, the harmony is not in
front but behind. The unity is derived from a vis a tergo: it is given
at the start as an impulsion, not placed at the end as an attraction, as
a kind of

"... far-off divine event
To which the whole creation moves."

"In communicating itself the impetus splits up more and more. Life, in
proportion to its progress, is scattered in manifestations which
undoubtedly owe to their common origin the fact that they are
complementary to each other in certain aspects, but which are none the
less mutually incompatible and antagonistic. So that the discord between
species will go on increasing." "There are species which are arrested,
there are some that retrogress. Evolution is not only a movement
forward; in many cases we observe a marking-time, and still more often a
deviation or turning back. Thence results an increasing disorder. No
doubt there is progress, if progress means a continual advance in the
general direction determined by a first impulsion; but this progress is
accomplished only on the two or three great lines of Evolution on which
forms ever more and more complex, ever more and more high, appear;
between these lines run a crowd of minor paths in which deviations,
arrests, and set-backs are multiplied." [Footnote: Creative Evolution,
pp. 107-110 (Fr. pp. 111-114).] Evolution would be a very simple and
easy process to understand if it followed one straight path. To describe
it, Bergson uses, in one place, this metaphor: "We are here dealing with
a shell which has immediately burst into fragments, which, being
themselves species of shells, have again burst into fragments, destined
to burst again, and so on." [Footnote: Creative Evolution, p. 103 (Fr.
p. 107).]

A study of the facts shows us three very marked tendencies which may be
denoted by the terms "Torpor," "Instinct," and "Intelligence." These
are, in a sense "terminal points" in the evolutionary process. Hence
arises the distinction of plant and animal, one showing a tendency to
unconscious torpor, the other manifesting a tendency towards movement
and consciousness. Then again arises another divergence which gives rise
to two paths or tendencies, one along the line of the arthropods, at the
end of which come the ants and the bees with their instincts, and the
other along the line of the vertebrates, at the end of which is man with
his intelligence. These three, Torpor, Instinct, and Intelligence, must
not, however, be looked upon as three successive stages in the linear
development of one tendency, but as three diverging directions of a
common activity, which split up as it went on its way. Instinct and
Intelligence are the two important terminal points in Evolution. They
are not two stages of which one is higher than the other, they are at
the end of two different roads. The wonders of Instinct are a
commonplace to students of animal and insect life. [Footnote: See the
interesting books by the French writer, Henri Fabre.] Men, with their
intellect, make tools, while Instinct is tied to its tool. There is a
wondrous immediacy, however, about Instinct, in the way it achieves
ends, and its operations are often quite unconsciously performed. The
insect or animal could not possibly "know" all that was involved in its
action. Instinct, then, is one form of adaptation, while Intellect is
quite another. In man--the grown man--Intellect is seen at its best. Yet
we are not without Instincts; by them we are bound to the race and to
the whole animal creation. But in ants and bees and such like creatures,
Instinct is the sole guide of life, and it is often a highly organized
life. The following example clearly shows the contrast between Instinct
and Intelligence. A cat knows how to manage her new-born kittens, how to
bring them up and teach them; a human mother does not know how to manage
her baby unless she is trained either directly or by her own quick
observation of other mothers. A cat performs her simple duties by
Instinct, a human mother has to make use of her Intelligence in order to
fulfil her very complex duties. We must observe, however, the relative
value of Instinct and Intelligence. Each is a psychical activity, but
while Instinct is far more perfect, far more complete in its insight, it
is confined within narrow limits. Intelligence, while far less perfect
in accomplishing its work, less complete in insight, is not limited in
such a way. But while Intellect is external, looking on reality as
different from life, Instinct is an inner sympathy with reality; it is
deeper than any intellectual bond which binds the conscious creature to
reality, for it is a vital bond.

Bergson now turns to a consideration of Life and Matter in the
evolutionary process, and their precise relation to one another. Life is
free, spontaneous, incalculable, not out of relation to Matter, but its
direction is not entirely determined by Matter nor has its initial
impulse Matter as its source. Although Bergson denies that Will and
Consciousness, as we know them, are mere functions of the material
organism, yet they do depend upon it as a workman depends upon his tool.
We are fond of insinuating that a bad workman always blames his tools. A
good workman, however, cannot be expected to do the best work with bad
tools. The tool, although he uses it, at the same time limits him. So it
is with the material organism at our disposal, our body, and so, too,
with spirit and matter in general. Spirit and Matter are not to be
regarded as independent or as ranged against one another from all
eternity. Matter is a product of Spirit or Consciousness, the underlying
psychic force. "For want of a better word," says Bergson, "we have
called it Consciousness. But we do not mean the narrowed consciousness
that functions in each of us." [Footnote: Creative Evolution, p. 250
(Fr. p. 258).] It is rather super-Consciousness than a consciousness
like ours. Matter is a flux rather than a thing, but its flow is in the
opposite direction to that of Spirit. The flow of Spirit shows itself in
the creativeness of the evolutionary process; Matter is the inverse
movement towards stability. Bergson adheres to the view of Spirit as
fundamental, while Matter, he says, is due to a lessening of the tension
of the spiritual force which is the initial elan. Now, of course, Matter
and Spirit have come to be two opposing forces, for one is determined
and the other free. Yet Bergson has to make out that there must have
been some indetermination in Matter, however small, to give Spirit an
opening to "insinuate itself" into Matter and thus use it for its own
ends. It always seems, however, as if Spirit were trying to free itself
from material limitations. It evolved the Intellect to cope with Matter.
This is why Reason is at home, not in life and freedom, but in solid
Matter, in mechanical and spatial distinctions. There is thus an eternal
conflict in progress between Spirit and Matter. The latter is always
tending to automatism, to the sacrifice of the Spirit with its creative
power. In his little book on The Meaning of the War Bergson claims that
here we have an instance of Life and Matter in conflict--Germany
representing a mechanical and materialistic force. In quite another way
he illustrates the same truth, in his book on Laughter, where he shows
us that "rigidity, automatism, absent-mindedness, and unsociability, are
all inextricably entwined, and all serve as ingredients to the making up
of the comic in character," [Footnote: Laughter, p. 147 (Fr. p. 151).]
for "the comic is that side of a person which reveals his likeness to a
thing, that aspect of human events which, through its peculiar
inelasticity, conveys the impression of pure mechanism, of automatism,
of movement without life." [Footnote: Laughter, p. 87 (Fr. p. 89).]

Finally, in reviewing the evolutionary process as a whole, Bergson
asserts that it manifests a radical contingency. The forms of life
created, also the proportion of Intuition to Intelligence, in man, and
the physique and morality of man, are all of them contingent. Life might
have stored up energy in a different way through plants selecting
different chemical elements. The whole of organic chemistry would then
have been different. Then, too, it is probable that Life manifests
itself in other planets, in other solar systems also, in forms of which
we have no idea. He points out that between the perfect humanity and
ours one may conceive many possible intermediaries, corresponding to all
the degrees imaginable of Intelligence and Intuition. Another solution
might have issued in a humanity either more intelligent or more
intuitive. Man has warred like the other species, he has warred against
the other species. If the evolution of life had been opposed by
different accidents en route, if the current of life had been divided
otherwise, we should have been, in physique and in morality, very
different from what we are. [Footnote: Creative Evolution, pp. 280-282
(Fr. p. 288-290).] We cannot regard humanity as prefigured in the
evolutionary process, nor look on man as the ultimate outcome of the
whole of Evolution. The rest of Nature does not exist simply for the
sake of man. Certainly man stands highest, for only in man has
consciousness succeeded, but man has, as it were, lost much in coming to
this position. The whole process of Evolution "IS AS IF A VAGUE AND
FORMLESS BEING, WHOM WE MAY CALL, AS WE WILL, man OR super-man, HAD
SOUGHT TO REALIZE HIMSELF AND HAD SUCCEEDED ONLY BY ABANDONING A PART OF
HIMSELF ON THE WAY." [Footnote: Creative Evolution, p. 281 (Fr. p. 289).
(Italics are Bergson's.)]

In the lectures on The Nature of the Soul, Bergson referred to the
"Pathway of the evolutionary process" as being a "Way to Personality."
For on the line which leads to man liberation has been accomplished and
thus personalities have been able to constitute themselves. If we could
view this line of evolution it would appear to resemble a telegraph wire
on which has travelled a dispatch sent off as long ago as the first
beginnings of life, a message which was then confused, of which a part
has been lost on the way, but which has at last found in the human race
the appropriate instrument.

Humanity is one; we are members one of another. Bergson insists on this
solidarity of man, and, indeed, of all living creatures. "As the
smallest grain of dust is bound up with our entire solar system, drawn
along with it in that undivided movement of descent which is materiality
itself, so all organized beings, from the humblest to the highest, from
the first origins of life to the time in which we are, and in all places
as in all times, do but evidence a single impulsion, the inverse of the
movement of matter, and in itself indivisible. All the living hold
together and all yield to the same tremendous push. The animal takes its
stand on the plant, man bestrides animality, and the whole of humanity,
in space and in time, is one immense army galloping beside and before
and behind each of us, in an overwhelming charge, able to beat down
every resistance and clear the most formidable obstacles, perhaps even
death." [Footnote: Creative Evolution, pp. 285-286 (Fr. pp. 293-294).]

CHAPTER IX

THE GOSPEL OF INTUITION

Intelligence and Intuition not opposed--Intellectual sympathy--Synthesis
and analysis. "Understanding as one loves"--Concepts--Intellect not
final--Man's spirit and intuitions--Joy, creative power and art--Value
of Intuitive Philosophy.

We now approach the grand climax of Bergson's philosophy, his doctrine
of Intuition, which he preaches with all the vigour of an evangelist.
Our study of his treatment of Change, of Perception, of la duree, and of
Instinct, has prepared us for an investigation of what he means by
Intuition, for in dealing with these subjects he has been laying the
foundations of his doctrine of Intuition. He pointed out to us that Life
is Change, but that our intellect does not really grasp the reality of
Change, for it is adapted to solids and to concepts, it resembles the
cinematograph film. Then he has tried to show us that in Perception
there is really much more than we think, for our intellect carves out
what is of practical interest, while the penumbra or vague fringes of
perceptions which have no bearing on action are neglected. By his
advocacy of a real psychological Time, in opposition to the physical
abstraction which bears the name, he again brought out the inadequacy of
intellect to grasp Life in its flow and has put before us the soul's own
appreciation of Time, which is a valuation rather than a magnitude, an
intuition of our consciousness. Then, in examining the Evolution of
Instinct and Intelligence, we found that Instinct, however blind
intellectually, contained a wonderful and unique element of immediacy or
direct insight. These are just preparatory indications of the direction
of Bergson's thought all the time.

It is admittedly difficult to determine with very great definiteness
what Bergson's view of Intuition really is, for he has made many
statements regarding it which appear at first sight irreconcilable and,
in his earlier writings, has not been sufficiently careful when speaking
of the distinction between Intelligence and Intuition. Some of his early
statements are reactionary and crude and give the impression of a purely
anti-intellectualist position involving the condemnation of Intellect
and all its work. [Footnote: E.g., the statement "To philosophize is to
invert the habitual direction of the work of thought"--Introduction to
Metaphysics p. 59.] In his later work, however, Bergson has made it more
clear that he does not mean to throw Intellect overboard; it has its
place, but is not final, nor is it the supreme human faculty which most
philosophers have thought it to be. It must be lamented, however, that
Bergson's language was ever so ill defined as to encourage the many
varied and conflicting views which are held regarding his doctrine of
Intuition. Around this the greatest controversy has raged. Little is to
be gained by heeding the shouts of either those who acclaim Bergson as a
revolutionary against all use of the Intellect, or of those who regard
him as no purely anti-intellectualist at all. We must turn to Bergson
himself and study carefully what he has said and written, reserving our
judgment until we have examined his own statements.

What is this "Intuition"? In what is now a locus classicus [Footnote:
Introduction to Metaphysics, p. 7.] he says, "By Intuition is meant the
kind of INTELLECTUAL SYMPATHY by which one places oneself within an
object in order to coincide with what is unique in it and consequently
inexpressible. Analysis is the operation which reduces the object to
elements already known, that is, to elements common to it and other
objects. To analyse, therefore, is to express a thing as a function of
something other than itself. All analysis is thus a translation, a
development into symbols, a representation taken from successive points
of view from which we note as many resemblances as possible between the
new object which we are studying and others which we believe we know
already. In its eternally unsatisfied desire to embrace the object
around which it is compelled to turn, analysis multiplies without end
the number of its points of view in order to complete its always
incomplete representation, and ceaselessly varies its symbols that it
may perfect the always imperfect translation. It goes on therefore to
infinity. But Intuition, if Intuition be possible, is a simple act. It
is an act directly opposed to analysis, for it is a viewing in totality,
as an absolute; it is a synthesis, not an analysis, not an intellectual
act, for it is an immediate, emotional synthesis.

Two illustrations, taken from the same essay, may serve to make this
point clearer. A visitor in Paris, of an artistic temperament, makes
some sketches of the city, writing underneath them, by way of memento,
the word "Paris." As he has actually seen Paris he is able, with the
help of the original Intuition he has had of that unique whole which is
Paris itself, to place his sketches therein, and synthesize them. But
there is no way of performing the inverse operation. It is impossible,
even with thousands of sketches, to achieve the Intuition, to give
oneself the impression of what Paris is like, if one has never been
there. Or again, as a second illustration, "Consider a character whose
adventures are related to me in a novel. The author may multiply the
traits of his hero's character, may make him speak and act as much as he
pleases, but all this can never be equivalent to the simple and
indivisible feeling which I should experience if I were able, for an
instant, to identify myself with the person of the hero himself. Out of
that indivisible feeling, as from a spring, all the words, gestures, and
actions of the man would appear to me to flow naturally. They would no
longer be accidents which, added to the idea I had already formed of the
character, continually enriched that idea without ever completing it.
The character would be given to me all at once, in its entirety, and the
thousand incidents which manifest it, instead of adding themselves to
the idea and so enriching it, would seem to me, on the contrary, to
detach themselves from it, without, however, exhausting it or
impoverishing its essence. All the things I am told about the man
provide me with so many points of view from which I can observe him. All
the traits which describe him and which can make him known to me, only
by so many comparisons with persons or things I know already, are signs
by which he is expressed more or less symbolically. Symbols and points
of view, therefore, place me outside him; they give me only what he has
in common with others, and not what belongs to him, and to him alone.
But that which is properly 'himself,' that which constitutes his
essence, cannot be perceived from without, being internal by definition,
nor be expressed by symbols, being incommensurable with everything else.
Description, history, and analysis leave me here in the relative.
Coincidence with the person himself would alone give me the absolute."
[Footnote: An Introduction to Metaphysics, p. 3.] This, as Gaston Rageot
puts it, is "to understand in the fashion in which one loves." This
statement is of suggestive interest in considering the practical problem
of how we may be said to "know" other people, and has vital bearing on
the revelation of one personality to another, urging, as it does, the
value and necessity of some degree of sympathy and indeed of love, for
the full understanding and knowledge of any personality.

In another place Bergson says: "When a poet reads me his verses, I can
interest myself enough in him to enter into his thought, put myself into
his feelings, live over again the simple state he has broken into
phrases and words. I sympathize then with his inspiration, I follow it
with a continuous movement which is, like the inspiration itself, an
undivided act." If this sympathy could extend its object and so reflect
upon itself, it would give us the key to vital operations in the same
way as Intelligence, developed and corrected, introduces us into Matter.
Intelligence, by the intermediary of science, which is its work, tells
more and more completely the secret of physical operations; of Life it
gives and pretends only to give an expression in terms of inertia. We
should be led into the very interior of Life by Intuition, that is, by
Instinct become disinterested, conscious of itself, capable of
reflecting on its object and enlarging it indefinitely.

In proclaiming the gospel of Intuition, Bergson's main point is to show
that man is capable of an experience and a knowledge deeper than that
which the Intellect can possibly give. "At intervals a soul arises which
seems to triumph... by dint of simplicity--the soul of an artist or a
poet, which, remaining near its source, reconciles, in a harmony
appreciable by the heart, terms irreconcilable by the intelligence"
[Footnote: From the address on Ravaisson, delivered before the Academie
des Sciences morales et politiques 1904.] His point of view is here akin
to that of an earlier French thinker, Pascal, who said: "The heart hath
reasons that the reason cannot know." The Intellect is, by its nature,
the fabricator of concepts, and concepts are, in Bergson's view,
mischievous. They are static, they leave out the flux of things, they
omit too much of experience, they are framed at an expensive cost, the
expense of vital contact with Life itself. Of course he admits a certain
value in concepts, but he refuses to admit that they help us at all to
grasp reality in its flux. "Metaphysics must transcend concepts in order
to reach Intuition. Certainly concepts are necessary to it, for all the
other sciences work, as a rule, with concepts, and Metaphysics cannot
dispense with the other sciences. But it is only truly itself when it
goes beyond the concept, or at least when it frees itself from rigid and
ready-made concepts, in order to create a kind very different from those
which we habitually use; I mean supple, mobile, and almost fluid
representations, always ready to mould themselves on the fleeting forms
of Intuition." [Footnote: An Introduction to Metaphysics, p. 18.]

The true instrument of Metaphysics is intuition. We can only grasp
ourselves, Bergson points out, by a metaphysical Intuition, for the soul
eludes thought; we cannot place it among concepts or in a category.
Intuition, however, reveals to us Real Time (la duree) and our real
selves, changing and living as free personalities in a Time which, as it
advances, creates.

Intuition is in no way mysterious, Bergson claims. Every one of us has
had opportunities to exercise it in some degree, and anyone, for
example, who has been engaged in literary work, knows perfectly well
that after long study has been given to the subject, when all documents
have been collected and necessary drafts worked out, one thing more is
needful--an effort, a travail of soul, a setting of oneself in the heart
of the subject; in short, the getting of inspiration. Metaphysical
Intuition seems to be of this nature, and its relation to the empirical
data contributed by the Intellect is parallel to the relation between
the literary man's inspiration and his collected material. Of course "it
is impossible to have an Intuition of reality, that is, an intellectual
sympathy, with its innermost nature, unless its confidence has been won
by a long comradeship with its external manifestation." In his study of
Lucretius [Footnote: Extraits de Lucrece avec etude sur la poesie, la
philosophie, la physique le texte et la langue de Lucrece (1884).
Preface, p. xx.] he remarks that the chief value of the Latin poet-
philosopher lay in his power of vision, in his insight into the beauty
of nature, in his synthetic view, while at the same time he was able to
exercise his keenly analytic intellect in discovering all he could about
the facts of nature in their scientific aspect. At the same time,
metaphysical Intuition, although only to be obtained through
acquaintance with empirical data, is quite other than the mere summary
of such knowledge. [Footnote: See protest: L'Intuition philosophique in
Revue de metaphysique et de morale, 1911, p. 821.] It is distinct from
these data, as the motor impulse is distinct from the path traversed by
the moving body, as the tension of the spring is distinct from the
visible movements of the pendulum. In this sense Metaphysics has nothing
in common with a generalization of facts. It might, however, be defined
as "integral experience." Nevertheless Intuition, once attained, must
find a mode of expression in well-defined concepts, for in itself it is
incommunicable. Dialectic is necessary to put Intuition to the proof,
necessary also in order that Intuition should break itself up into
concepts and so be propagated to others. But when we use language and
concepts to communicate it, we tend to make these in themselves mean
something, whereas they are but counters or symbols used to express what
is their inspiration--Intuition. Hence we often forget the metaphysical
Intuitions from which science itself has sprung. What is relative in
science is the symbolic knowledge, reached by pre-existing concepts
which proceed from the fixed to the moving. A truly intuitive philosophy
would bring science and metaphysics together. Modern science dates from
the day when mobility was set up as an independent reality and studied
as such by Galileo. But men of science have mainly fixed their attention
on the concepts, the residual products of Intuition, the symbols which
have lent a symbolic character to every kind of science. Metaphysicians,
too, have done the same thing. Hence it was easy for Kant to show that
our science is wholly relative and our metaphysics entirely artificial.
For Kant, science was a universal mathematic and metaphysics a
practically unaltered Platonism. The synthetic Intuition was hidden by
the analysis to which it had given rise. For Kant, Intuition was infra-
intellectual, but for Bergson it is supra-intellectual. Kant's great
error was in concluding that it is necessary for us, in order to attain
Intuition, to leave the domain of the senses and of consciousness. This
was because of his views of Time and Change. If Time and Change really
were what he took them to be, then Metaphysics and Intuition alike are
impossible. For Bergson, however, Time and Change lead up to Intuition;
indeed it is by Intuition that we come to see all things, as he
expresses it, sub specie durationis. This is the primary vision which an
intuitive philosophy supplies. Such a philosophy will not be merely a
unification of the sciences.

In an article contributed to the Revue de metaphysique et de morale in
January of 1908, under the title L'Evolution de l'intelligence
geometrique, we find Bergson remarking: "Nowhere have I claimed that we
should replace intelligence by something else, or prefer instinct to it.
I have tried to show merely that when we leave the region of physical
and mathematical objects for the realm of life and consciousness, we
have to depend on a certain sense of living, which has its origin in the
same vital impulse that is the basis of instinct, although instinct,
strictly speaking, is something quite different."

Intellect and Intuition, Bergson says very emphatically, at the close of
his Huxley Lecture on Life and Consciousness, are not opposed to one
another. "How could there be a disharmony between our Intuitions and our
Science, how, especially, could our Science make us renounce our
Intuition, if these Intuitions are something like Instinct--an Instinct
conscious, refined, spiritualized--and if Instinct is still nearer Life
than Intellect and Science? Intuition and Intellect do not oppose each
other, save where Intuition refuses to become more precise by coming
into touch with facts, scientifically studied, and where Intellect,
instead of confining itself to Science proper (that is, to what can be
inferred from facts, or proved by reasoning), combines with this an
unconscious and inconsistent metaphysic which in vain lays claim to
scientific pretensions. The future seems to belong to a philosophy which
will take into account the whole of what is given." [Footnote: Life and
Consciousness, as reported in The Hibbert Journal, Vol. X, Oct., 1911,
pp. 24-44.] Intuition, to be fruitful, must interact with Intellect. It
has the direct insight of Instinct, but its range is widened in
proportion as it blends with Intellect. To imagine that the acceptance
of the gospel of Intuition means the setting aside of all valuation in
regard to the Intellect and its work would be preposterous. Bergson,
however unguarded his language at times has been, does not mean this. He
does not mean that we must return to the standpoint of the animal or
that we must assume that the animal view, which is instinctive, is
higher than the view which, through Intellect, gives it a meaning and
value to the percipient. That would involve the rejection of all that
our culture has accumulated, all our social heritage from the past, the
overthrow of our civilization, the undoing of all that has developed in
our world, since man's Intelligence came into it. We cannot obtain
Intuition without intellectual labour, for it must have an intellectual
or scientific basis. Yet, however valuable Intellect is, it is not
final. "It is reality itself, in the profoundest meaning of the word,
that we reach by the combined and progressive development of science and
philosophy." [Footnote: Creative Evolution, p. 210 (Fr. p. 217).] We
need, therefore, if we are to get into touch with the deeper aspects of
reality, something more than bare science. We cannot live on its dry
bread alone; we need philosophy--an intuitional philosophy.

In his brilliant paper L'Intuition philosophique Bergson shows us, by a
splendid study of Berkeley and Spinoza, that the great Intuition
underlying the thought of a philosopher is of more worth to the world
than the logic and dialectic through the aid of which it is made
manifest, and elaborated. [Footnote: He makes this clear in a letter to
Dr. Mitchell in the latter's Studies in Bergson's Philosophy, p. 31.]
Then in the Lectures La Perception du Changement and in his little work
on Laughter he sets forth the meaning of Intuition in relation to Art.
From time to time Nature raises up souls more or less detached from
practical life, seers of visions and dreamers of dreams, men of
Intuition, with powers of great poetry, great music, or great painting.
The clearest evidence of Intuition comes to us from the works of these
great artists. What is it that we call the "genius" of great painters,
great musicians, and great poets? It is simply the power they have of
seeing more than we see and of enabling us, by their expressions, to
penetrate further into reality ourselves. What makes the picture is the
artist's vision, his entry into the subject by sympathy or Intuition,
and however imperfectly he expresses this, yet he reveals to us more
than we could otherwise have perceived.

The original form of consciousness, Bergson asserts, was nearer to
Intuition than to Intelligence. But man has found Intellect the more
valuable faculty for practical use and so has used it for the solution
of questions it was never intended to solve, by reason of its nature and
origin. Yet "Intuition is there, but vague and, above all,
discontinuous. It is a lamp almost extinguished which only glimmers now
and then for a few moments at most. But it glimmers whenever a vital
interest is at stake. On our personality, on our liberty, on the place
we occupy in the whole of Nature, on our origin, and perhaps also on our
destiny, it throws a light, feeble and vacillating, but which, none the
less, pierces the darkness of the night in which the Intellect leaves
us." [Footnote: Creative Evolution, p. 282 (Fr. p. 290).]

Science promises us well-being, or, at the most, pleasure, but
philosophy, through the Intuition to which it leads us, is capable of
bestowing upon us Joy. The future belongs to such an intuitive
philosophy, Bergson holds, for he considers that the whole progress of
Evolution is towards the creation of a type of being whose Intuition
will be equal to his Intelligence. Finally, by Intuition we shall find
ourselves in--to invent a word--"intunation" with the elan vital, with
the Evolution of the whole universe, and this absolute feeling of "at-
one-ment" with the universe will result in that emotional synthesis
which is deep Joy, which Wordsworth describes as:

"that blessed mood
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world,
Is lightened:--that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on,--
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony and the deep power of joy
We see into the life of things."

CHAPTER X

ETHICAL AND POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS

Anti-intellectualism and the State--Syndicalism--Class war, "direct
action." Sorel advocates General Strike--Bergson cited in support--
Unfair use of Bergson's view of reality--His ethic--Value of Will and
Creativeness; not a supporter of impulse. Development of personality.
Intuitive mind of woman. Change and the moral life.

Bergson has not written explicitly upon Ethics. In some quarters,
however, so much has been made of Bergson as a supporter of certain
ethical tendencies and certain social movements, that we must examine
this question of ethical and political implications and try to ascertain
how far this use of Bergson is justified.

Both ethical and political thought to-day are deriving fresh stimulation
from the revision of many formulae, the modification of many conceptions
which the War has inevitably caused. At the same time the keen interest
taken in studies like social psychology and political philosophy
combines with a growing interest in movements such as Guild Socialism
and Syndicalism. The current which in philosophy sets against
intellectualism, in the political realm sets against the State. This
political anti-intellectualism shows a definite tendency to belittle the
State in comparison with economic or social groups. "If social
psychology tends to base the State as it is, on other than intellectual
grounds, Syndicalism is prone to expect that non-intellectual forces
will suffice to achieve the State as it should be." [Footnote: Ernest
Barker in his Political Thought in England from Herbert Spencer to the
Present Day, p. 248.] Other tendencies of the same type are noticeable.
For example, Mr. Bertrand Russell's work on The Principles of Social
Reconstruction is based on the view that impulse is a larger factor in
our social life than conscious purpose.

The Syndicalists have been citing the philosophy of Bergson in support
of their views, and it is most interesting to see how skilfully at times
sayings of Bergson are quoted by them as authoritative, as justification
for their actions, in a spirit akin to that of the devout man who quotes
scripture texts as a guide to conduct.

In this country, Syndicalism has not been popular, and when it did show
its head the government promptly prosecuted the editor and printers of
its organ, The Syndicalist, and suppressed the paper owing to its
aggressive anti-militarism. [Footnote: Imprisonment of Mr. Tom Mann]
English Syndicalism has few supporters and it is a rather diluted form
of French Syndicalism. To understand the movement, we must turn to its
history in France or in America. Its history in Russia will be an object
of research in the future, when more material and more news are
available from that "distressful country." In France local unions or
syndicats were legalized as early as 1884 but 1895 is the important
landmark, being the date of the foundation with which Syndicalism is
associated to-day, the Confederation Generale du Travail, popularly
known as the "C.G.T.," the central trade-union organization in France.
In the main, Syndicalism is an urban product, and has not many adherents
among the agricultural population. In America a "Federation of Labour"
was formed in 1886, but the Syndicalist organization there is the body
known as "The Industrial Workers of the World." In its declaration of
policy, it looks forward to a union which is to embrace the whole
working class and to adopt towards the capitalist class an unending
warfare, until the latter is expropriated. "The working class and the
employing class," says the declaration, "have nothing in common. Between
these two classes a struggle must go on until all the toilers come
together on the industrial field and take and hold that which they
produce by their labour." Among the leaders of Syndicalist thought on
the Continent may be mentioned the names of three prominent Frenchmen,
Berth, Lagardelle, and Sorel, together with that of the young Italian
professor Labriola, who is leading the increasingly active party in his
own country.

In France, Italy, and America alike, Syndicalism stands for the class-
war. Its central feature is the idea of a General Strike. It manifests a
hatred of the State, which makes it bitterly opposed to State Socialism,
which it regards as centralized and tyrannical, or to a Labour-party of
any kind in Parliament. [Footnote: Attempts at carrying out a General
Strike, in France, Sweden, Italy, and Spain have failed. The greatest
Strikes have been: Railwaymen in Italy, in 1907; Postal Workers in
France, in 1909. Miners in New South Wales, in 1909, and in Sweden,
1909; Miners and Railwaymen in England; Textile Workers in
Massachusetts, 1912; Railwaymen in England, 1919, in France, 1920.] It
regards the State as fixed, rigid, and intellectual, and adopts all the
Bergsonian anathemas it can find which condemn intellectual
constructions, concepts, and thought in general. Its war-cry is not only
"Down with Capitalism" but also, in a great number of cases, "Down with
Intellectualism"! Instinct and impulse alone are to be guides.
Syndicalism, unlike Socialism, has no programme--it does not believe in
a prearranged plan. Reality, it says, quoting Bersgon, has no plan. It
says, "Let us act, act instinctively and impulsively against what we
feel to be wrong, and the future will grow out of our acting." We find
Georges Sorel, the philosopher of Syndicalism, talking about what he
terms the INTUITION of Socialism, and he talks emphatically about the
tremendous moral value of strikes, apart from any material gain achieved
by them. He believes religiously in a General Strike as the great ideal,
but considers it a myth capable of rousing enthusiasm in the workers, an
ideal to which they must strive, a myth as inspiring as the belief of
the early Christians in the Second Coming of Christ, which, although
quite a false belief, contributed largely to the success of the early
Church. "Strikes," says Sorel, "have engendered in the proletariat the
most noble, the most profound, the most moving sentiments they possess.
The General Strike groups these in a composite picture, and by bringing
together, gives to each its maximum intensity; appealing to the most
acute memories of particular conflicts, it colours with an intense life
all the details of the composition presented to the mind. We obtain thus
an intuition of Socialism which language cannot clearly express and we
obtain it in a symbol instantly perceived, such as is maintained in the
Bergsonian philosophy." [Footnote: Quoted by C. Bougle, in an
interesting article Syndicalistes et Bergsoniens, Revue du mois, April
10, 1909. And by Rev. Rhondda Williams in Syndicalism in France and its
Relation to the Philosophy of Bergson, Hibbert Journal, 1914. Also by J.
W. Scott in his book Syndicalism and Philosophical Realism, 1919, pp.
39-40, and by Harley in Syndicalism.] In England, although the idea of
the General Strike has not been so prominent, yet in recent years
Strikes have assumed an aspect different from those of former years.
Workers who had "struck" before for definite objects, for wages or
hours, or reformed workshop conditions, now seem to be seeking after
something vaster--a fundamental alteration in industrial conditions or
the total abolition of the present system. The spirit of unrest is on
the increase; no doubt War conditions have, in many cases, intensified
it, but there is in the whole industrial world an instinctive impulse
showing itself, which is issuing in Syndicalist and Bolshevist
[Footnote: "Bolshevik"--simply the Russian word for majority party as
distinct from Mensheviks or minority.] activities of various kinds.
Syndicalism is undoubtedly revolutionary. There are Les Syndicats rouges
and Les Syndicats jaunes, of which the "Reds" are by far the most
revolutionary. [Footnote: See article Des Ouvriers syndiques et le
Syndicalisme jaune, Revue de metaphysique et morale, 1912] The C.G.T.
and the Industrial Workers of the World are out for what they call
"direct action." Their anarchy is really an organization directed
against organization, at least against that organization we know as the
modern State. They have no hope of salvation for themselves coming about
through the State in any way. It has become somewhat natural for us to
think of the social reformer as a Member of Parliament and of the
revolutionary socialist as a "strike-agitator." The cries of "Don't
vote!" "Don't enlist!" are heard, and care is taken to keep the workman
from ceasing to quarrel with his employer. Any discussion of the rights
or wrongs of any Strike is condemned at once. [Footnote: Ramsay
MacDonald was condemned by the Syndicalists for claiming that a strike
MIGHT be wrong.] All Strikes are regarded as right and as an approach to
the ideal of the General Strike. Sorel cites Bergson as calling us to
turn from traditional thought, to seek reality in the dynamic, rather
than the static. He claims that the Professor of Philosophy at the
College de France really co-operates with the C.G.T. An unexpected
harmony arises "between the flute of personal meditation, and the
trumpet of social revolution, and the workman is inspired by being made
to feel that the elan ouvrier est frere de l'elan vital." [Footnote:
Quoted by C. Bougie in the article previously mentioned.] As Bergson
speaks of all movement as unique and indivisible, so the triumphant
movement of the General Strike is to be regarded as a whole, no analysis
is to be made of its parts. As the portals of the future stand wide
open, as the future is being made, so Bergson tells us, that is deemed
an excuse by the Syndicalists for having no prearranged plan of the
conduct of the General Strike, and no conception of what is to be done
afterwards. It is unforeseen and unforeseeable. All industries, however,
are to be in the hands of those who work them, the present industrial
system is to be swept away. The new order which is to follow will have
entirely new moral codes. Sorel justifies violence to be used against
the existing order, but says he wishes to avoid unnecessary blood-shed
or brutality. [Footnote: Reflections on Violence. It is interesting to
note that Bergson refers briefly to Sorel as an original thinker whom it
is impossible to place in any category or class, in La Philosophie, p.
13.] He remarks however, in this connexion, that ancient society, with
all its brutality, compares favourably with modern society which has
replaced ferocity by cunning. The ancient peoples had less hypocrisy
than we have; this, in his opinion, justifies violence in the overthrow
of the modern system and the creation of a nobler ethic than that on
which the modern State is based. For this reason, he disagrees with most
of his Syndicalist colleagues, and condemns sabotage and also the ca
canny policy, both of which are a kind of revenge upon the employer,
based on the principle of "bad work for bad pay." He would have the
workers produce well now, and urges that moral progress is to be aimed
at no less than material progress.

It certainly seems, however, that the Syndicalists are making an unfair
use of Bergson. They have got hold of three or four points rather out of
relation to their context, and are making the most of them. These points
are, chiefly, his remarks against the Intellect, his appreciation of
Instinct and Intuition, his insistence on Freedom and on the
Indeterminateness of the Future. In the hands of the Syndicalists these
become in effect: "Never mind what you think, rouse up your feeling
intensely; act as you feel and then see what you think." Briefly this
amounts to saying: "Act on impulse, behave instinctively and not
rationally." In too many cases, as we know, this is equivalent to a
merely selfish "Down tools if you feel like it." Now so far from Bergson
really giving any countenance to capricious behaviour, or mere impulse,
he expressly condemns such action. Although the future is being made, he
does not admit that it will be merely CAPRICIOUSLY made, and he condemns
the man of mere impulse along with the dreamer, in a fine passage where
he speaks of the value of an intelligent memory in practical
life.[Footnote: See p. 48 of the present work.] When the Syndicalists
assert that elan, instinct, impulse, or intuition are a better guide
than intelligence and reasoned principles, and cite Bergson as their
authority, they omit an important qualification which upsets their
theory entirely, for Bergson's anti-intellectualism is not at all of the
type which they advocate. He does not intend to rule Intellect out of
practical affairs. Indeed it is just the opposite that he asserts, for,
in his view, the Intellect is pre-eminently fitted for practical life,
for action, and it is for this very reason that he maintains it does not
give us insight into reality itself, which Intuition alone can do. He
does not wish, however, to decrease the small element of rationality
manifested in ethical and political life, least of all to make men less
rational, in the sense that they are to become mere creatures of
Impulse.

Nevertheless, Bergson's great emphasis on Will and Creativeness condemns
any laissez-faire type of political theory. It would be wrong for us to
accept the social order which is felt to be imperfect and unjust in so
many ways, simply because we find ourselves in it and fear we cannot
work a way out. WE HAVE GREAT POWER OF CREATION, AND IN LARGE MEASURE WE
CAN CREATE WHAT WE WILL IN THE WORLD OF POLITICS AND SOCIAL LIFE, and it
is good that men generally should be made to see this. But it is of very
vital importance that we should will the right thing. This we are not
likely to do impulsively and without reflection. Even if we admit Mr.
Russell's contention that "impulse has more effect than conscious
purpose in moulding men's lives" [Footnote: Principles of Social
Reconstruction, Preface, p. 5.] and agree that "it is not the weakening
of impulse that is to be desired, but the direction of impulse toward
life and growth," [Footnote: p. 18. Cf. the whole of the first chapter
on The Principle of Growth.] yet, we none the less assert that instinct
is an insufficient guide in the determination of social behaviour, and
ask how the direction of impulse, of which Mr. Russell himself speaks,
is to be arrived at? Surely our only hope lies in striving to make men
not less, but more rational in order that they may grasp--however dimly-
-something of what is implied in ethical and political ideals, that they
may recognize in society some embodiment of will and purpose and come to
look upon Thought and Reason as the unifying and organizing principles
of human society.

We cannot help wishing that Bergson had given us some contribution to
the study of Ethics. In one of his letters to Father de Tonquedec
regarding the relation of his philosophy to Theology, we find him
remarking that "Before these conclusions [theological statements] can be
set out with greater precision, or considered at greater length, certain
problems of quite another kind would have to be attacked--the problems
of Ethics. I am not sure that I shall ever publish anything on this
subject. I shall do so only if I attain the results that appear to me as
demonstrable or as clearly to be shown as those of my other books."
[Footnote: In Etudes (Revue des Peres de Jesus), Vol. CXXX, pp. 514,
515, 1912.] Prior to the War, however, we know that Bergson was taking
up the problem of working out the implications of his philosophy in the
sphere of social ethics, with particular reference to the meaning of
"Duty" and the significance of "Personality." Although his
investigations of these supremely important problems have not yet been
completed or made public, nevertheless certain ethical implications
which have an important bearing on personal and social life seem to be
contained in what he has already written.

In its application to social life, Bergson's philosophy would involve
the laying of greater stress upon the need for all members of society
having larger opportunities of being more fully themselves, of being
self-creative and having fuller powers of self-expression as free
creative agents. It would lay emphasis upon the value of the personality
of the worker and would combat the systematic converting of him into a
mere "hand." Thus would be set in clearer light the claims of human
personality to create and to enjoy a good life in the widest sense, to
enter into fuller sympathy and fellowship with other personalities, and
so develop a fuller and richer form of existence than is possible under
present social and industrial conditions. It would mean a transvaluation
of all social values, an esteeming of personality before property, a
recognition of material goods as means to a good life, when employed in
the social service of the spirit of man. It would involve a denunciation
of the enslavement of man's spirit to the production of material wealth.
Each man would be a member of a community of personalities, each of
unique value, treating each other, not as means to their own particular
selfish ends, but as ends in themselves. At the same time it would
involve the putting of the personality of the citizen in the foremost
place in our social and political life, instead of a development of a
purely class consciousness with its mischievous distinctions.

Articles have been written dealing with Bergson's message to Feminism.
This point is not without its importance in our modern life. It must be
admitted that the present system of civilization with its scientific
campaign of conquest of the material environment has been the work of
man's intellect. In the ruder stages of existence women's subordination
to men may have been necessary and justifiable. But in the development
of society it has become increasingly less necessary, and humanity is
now at a stage where the contributions of women to society are
absolutely vital to its welfare and progress. Woman is proverbially and
rightly regarded as more intuitive than man. This need not be taken to
mean that, given the opportunity of intellectual development (until now
practically denied to her), woman would not show as great ability in
this direction as man. But it is an undeniable fact that woman has kept
more closely to the forces of the great life-principle, both by the fact
that in her rests the creative power for the continuation of the human
family and also by the fact that the development of the personalities of
children has been her function. The subjection in which women have been
largely kept until now has not only hindered them from taking part in
the work of society as a whole and from expressing their point of view,
but has meant that many of them have little or no knowledge of their
capacities and abilities in wider directions. However, with their
increasing realization of their own powers, with the granting of
increased opportunities to them, and an adequate recognition of their
personality side by side with that of men, achievements of supreme value
for humanity as a whole may be expected from them. In certain spheres
they may be found much better adapted than are men to achieve a vision
which will raise human life to a higher plane and give it greater worth.
More especially in the realms of ethical development, of social science,
problems of sex, of war and peace, of child welfare, health, and
education, of religion and philosophy we may hope to have valuable
contributions from the more intuitive mind of woman. "It is not in the
fighting male of the race: it is in Woman that we have the future centre
of Power in civilization." [Footnote: Benjamin Kidd in The Science of
Power, p. 195. This is more fully shown in his chapters, Woman the
Psychic Centre of Power in the Social Integration, and The Mind of
Woman, pp. 192-257.] The wandering Dante required for his guidance not
only the intellectual faculties of a Vergil but in addition the
intuitive woman-soul of a Beatrice to lead him upward and on.

In La Conscience et la Vie [Footnote: L'Energie spirituelle, p. 27
(Mind-Energy).] Bergson indicates slightly his views on SOCIAL
evolution--c'est a la vie sociale que l'evolution aboutit, comme si le
besoin s'en etait fait sentir des le debut, ou plutot comme si quelque
aspiration originelle et essentielle de la vie ne pouvait trouver que
dans la societe sa pleine satisfaction. He seems inclined to turn his
attention to the unity of life, not simply as due to an identity of
original impulse but to a common aspiration. There is involved a process
of subordination and initiative on the part of the individual. The
existence of society necessitates a certain subordination, while its
progress depends on the free initiative of the individual. It is
extremely dangerous for any society, whether it be an International
League, a State, either Communistic or Capitalistic, a Trade Union, or a
Church, to suppress individual liberty in the interests of greater
social efficiency or of increased production or rigid uniformity of
doctrine. With the sacrifice of individual initiative will go the loss
of all "soul," and the result will be degeneration to a mechanical type
of existence, a merely stagnant institution expressing nothing of man's
spirit. This personal power of initiative Bergson appeals to each one to
maintain. In an important passage of his little work on Laughter he
makes a personal moral appeal.

"What life and society require of each of us is a constantly alert
attention, that discerns the outlines of the present situation, together
with a certain elasticity of mind and body to enable us to adapt
ourselves in consequence."[Footnote: Laughter, p. 18 (Fr. p. 18).] The
lack of tension and elasticity gives rise to mental deficiency and to
grave inadaptability which produces misery and crime. Society demands
not only that we live but that we live well. This means that we must be
truly alive; for Bergson, the moral ideal is to keep spiritually alert.
We must be our real, living selves, and not hide behind the social self
of hypocrisy and habit. We must avoid being the victims of mechanism or
automatism. We must avoid at all costs "getting into a rut" morally or
spiritually. Change and vision are both necessary to our welfare. Where
there is no vision, no undying fire of idealism, the people perish.

Resistance to change is the sin against the Holy Spirit. Bergson is
opposed to the conventional view of morality as equivalent to rigidity,
and grasps the important truth that if morality is to be of worth at all
it must lie not in a fixed set of rules, habits, or conventions, but in
a spirit of living. This is of very great ethical importance indeed, as
it means that we must revise many of our standards of character. For
example, how often do we hear of one who, holding an obviously false
view long and obstinately, is praised as consistent, whereas a mind
which moves and develops with the times, attempting always to adjust
itself to changing conditions in its intellectual or material
environment, is contemptuously dubbed as "changeable" by the moralists
of rigidity. We must, however, learn that consistency of character does
not mean lack of change. Stanchness of character is too often mere
obstinate resistance to change. We must therefore be on our guard
against those who would run ethics into rigid moulds, and so raise up
static concepts and infallible dogmas for beliefs or action. Change must
be accepted as a principle which it is both futile and immoral to
ignore, even in the moral life. This does not mean setting up caprice or
impulsiveness, for in so far as our change of character expresses the
development of the single movement of our own inner life it will be
quite other than capricious, but it will be change, and a change which
is quite consistent, a creative evolution of our personality.

No merely materialistic ethic can breathe in the atmosphere of Bergson's
thought, which sets human consciousness in a high place and insists upon
the fact of Freedom. He maintains a point of view far removed from the
old naturalistic ethic; he does take some account of "values," freedom,
creativeness, and joy (as distinct from pleasure). He points out that
Matter, although to a degree the tool of Spirit, is nevertheless the
enemy who threatens us with a lapse into mere automatism which is only
the parody of true life. The eternal conflict of Matter and Spirit in
Evolution demands that we place ourselves on the side of spiritual
rather than merely material values. We must not be like "the man with
the muck rake." Our conceptions of goodness must be not merely static
but dynamic, for the moral life is essentially an evolution--"a growth
in grace." It means a constant "putting on of the new man," never
"counting oneself to have attained," for spirituality is a progress to
ever new creations, the spiritual life is an unending adventure, and is,
moreover, one which is hampered and crushed by all refusals to recognize
that Change is the fundamental feature of the universe. Nothing can be
more mischievous, more detrimental to moral progress--which is
ultimately the only progress of value and significance to humanity--than
the deification of the status quo either in the individual or in society
as a whole.

CHAPTER XI

RELATION TO RELIGION AND THEOLOGY

Avoidance of theological terms--Intuition and faith--God and Change--
Deity not omnipotent but creative and immanent--God as "Creator of
creators"--Problem of teleology--Stimulus to theology--The need for
restatements of the nature of God--Men as products and instruments of
divine activity--Immortality.

We have seen that Bergson holds no special brief for science, for, as
has been shown, he opposes many of the hypotheses to which science
clings. Consequently, some persons possessing only a superficial
acquaintance with Bergson, and having minds which still think in the
exclusive and opposing terms of the conflict of science and religion of
a generation past, have enthusiastically hailed him as an ally of their
religion. We must examine carefully how far this is justifiable. It is
perfectly natural and just that many people, unable to devote time or
energy to the study of his works, want to know, in regard to Bergson, as
about every other great thinker, what is the bearing of his thought on
their practical theory of life, upon their ideals of existence, upon the
courage, faith, and hope which enable them to work and live, feeling
that life is worth while. We must, however, guard against misuse of
Bergson, particularly such misuse of him as that made in another sphere,
by the Syndicalists. We find that in France he has been welcomed by the
Modernists of the Roman Catholic Church as an ally, and by not a few
liberal and progressive Christian theologians in this country.

At the outset, we must note that Bergson avoids theological forms of
expression, because he is well aware that these--especially in a
philosophical treatise--may give rise to misconceptions. He does not,
like Kant, attack any specific or traditional argument for Theism; he
does not enter into theological controversy. He has not formulated, with
any strictness, his conception of God; for he has recognized that an
examination of Theism would be of little or no value, which was not
prefaced by a refutation of mechanism and materialism, and by the
assertion of some spiritual value in the universe. It is to such a
labour that Bergson has applied himself; it is only incidentally that we
find him making remarks on religious or theological conceptions. His
whole philosophy, however, involves some very important religious
conceptions and theological standpoints. In France, Bergson has had a
considerable amount of discussion on the theological implications of his
philosophy with the Jesuit Fathers, notably Father de Tonquedec. These
arise particularly from his views concerning Change, Time, Freedom,
Evolution and Intuition.

Bergson has been cited as a "Mystic" because he preaches a doctrine of
Intuition. But his metaphysical Intuition bears no relation to the
mysticism of the saint or of the fervid religious mind. He expressly
says, "The doctrine I hold is a protest against mysticism since it
professes to reconstruct the bridge (broken since Kant) between
metaphysics and science." Yet, if by mysticism one means a certain
appeal to the inner and profound life, then his philosophy is mystical--
but so is all philosophy. We must beware of any attempts to run
Bergson's thought into moulds for which it was never intended, and guard
against its being strained and falsely interpreted in the interests of
some special form of religious belief. Intuition is not what the
religious mind means by Faith, in the accepted sense of belief in a
doctrine or a deity, which is to be neither criticized nor reasoned
about. Religion demands "what passeth knowledge." Furthermore, it seeks
a reality that abides above the world of Change, "The same yesterday,
to-day, and for ever," to which it appeals. The religious consciousness
finds itself most reluctant to admit the reality of Change, and this, we
must remember, is the fundamental principle of Bergson's thought. Faber,
one of the noblest hymn writers, well expresses this attitude:

"O, Lord, my heart is sick,
Sick of this everlasting change,
And Life runs tediously quick
Through its unresting race and varied range.
Change finds no likeness of itself in Thee,
And makes no echo in Thy mute eternity."

For Bergson, God reveals Himself in the world of Time, in the very
principle of Change. He is not "a Father of lights in Whom is no
variableness nor shadow of turning."

It has been said that the Idea of God is one of the objects of
philosophy, and this is true, if, by God, we agree to mean the principle
of the universe, or the Absolute. Unity is essential to the Idea of God.
For the religious consciousness, of course, God's existence is a
necessary one, not merely contingent. It views Him as eternal and
unchangeable. But if we accept the Bergsonian philosophy, God cannot be
regarded as "timeless," or as "perfect" in the sense of being "eternal"
and "complete." He is, so to speak, realizing Himself in the universe,
and is not merely a unity which sums up the multiplicity of time
existence. Further, He must be a God who acts freely and creatively and
who is in time. Trouble has arisen in the past over the relation of
"temporal" and "eternal"--the former being regarded as appearance. For
Bergson, this difficulty does not arise; there is, for him, no such

Book of the day: