Notes on Deleuze, G. (1991) Bergsonism, New York: Zone Books

Dave Harris


Quick version

NB helpful commentary on Bergson here: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/bergson/

Apparently, Bergson begins by attempting to clarify some philosophical problems which he says often confuse two kinds of judgment, and therefore act as an unclear composite.  For example, the question why is there something rather than nothing confuses a mere idea (nothing), with the reality—something.  We have to divide up the two parts of the composite. We need to crack on with our understanding of what reality is and the multiplicities that it consists of.

Luckily, what we have is two kinds of multiplicity, which are equivalent.  There is a multiplicity which features differences of degree , and one which features differences of kind.  Roughly, this corresponds to (normally thought-of as) material reality itself, with its differences of degree that can be quantified and measured and mathematicised, and the operations of consciousness, which effectively manages to construct some multiplicity by combining differences in kind.  This sort of synthetic operation is a part of what Bergson means by duration.

We know that Schutz cites Bergson’s notion of duration in his analysis of subjective time, it’s through-and-through-interconnectedness, and the way in which it synthesizes memories and current experiences.  It is the synthesis that is the most important part, however.

Bergson insists that the past is also an objective reality, at least in the sense that it has actually happened and is now beyond the control of human beings.  When we recapture the past, what we do is literally ‘leap’ into that reality.  [Again, this might explain Schutz’s stuff about how you move from one subjective reality to another, only via a leap?]  Having leapt into the past, what we then do is to take a region of it to inhabit and explore, and attempt to somehow add some meaning, by adding to it differences in kind.

This leads on to a discussion about consciousness having a cone shape.  The point of the cone is where we are at the moment in the conscious present, but the past reality can be expanded or relaxed from that present point.  Similarly, the past can condense/contract itself more and more until it becomes a particular point in consciousness.

Lots more dense philosophising follows about whether there is one or more series of time, one or more durations and the like, and it is this oscillation between dualism and monism that is the subject of the scanned pages below.

I never did get to the bottom of what Bergson meant by the method of intuition.  This apparently has a serious philosophical legacy, and it just seems to me to involve philosophical reasoning, that curious combination of speculation, exploring the implications of hypotheses, occasionally darting out to equate what is going on with some more familiar argument, and the like.  At the end of the book, it is apparently equated with that which exceeds intelligence in the sense of instinct and affect, but this is promptly mystified again by conceiving of it as some kind of cosmic energy, the elan vital.  This force is what is responsible for actualizing the virtual.

At the outset we asked: What is the relationship between the three fundamental concepts of Duration, Memory, and the Elan Vital?…  It seems to us that Duration essentially defines a virtual  multiplicity (what differs in nature).  Memory than appears as the coexistence of all the degrees of difference in this multiplicity, in this virtuality. The elan vital, finally, designates the actualization of this virtual according to the lines of differentiation that correspond to the degrees—up to this precise line of man where the Elan Vital gains self consciousness. (112—3)

Then this summary by Deleuze, which contradicts my simplistic understanding above:

(1) Bergson begins by criticizing any vision of the world based only on differences in degree or intensity. These in fact lose sight of the essential point; that is, the articulations of the real or the qualitative differences, the differences in kind. There is a difference in kind between space and duration, matter and memory, present and past, etc. We only discover this difference by dint of decomposing the composites given in experience and going beyond the “turn.” We discover the differences in kind between two actual tendencies, between two actual directions toward the pure state into which each composite divides. This is the moment of pure dualism, or of the division of composites.

(2) But we can already see that it is not enough to say that the difference in kind is between two tendencies, between two directions, between space and duration .... For one of these two directions takes all the differences in kind on itself and all the differences in degree fall away into the other direction, the other tendency. It is duration that includes all the qualitative differences, to the point where it is defined as alteration in relation to itself. It is space that only presents differences in degree, to the point where it appears as the schema of an indefinite divisibility. Similarly, Memory is essentially difference and matter essentially repetition. There is therefore no longer any difference in kind between two tendencies, but a difference between the differences [!] in kind that correspond to one tendency and the differences in degree that refer back to the other tendency. This is the moment of neutralized, balanced dualism.

(3) Duration, memory or spirit is difference in kind in itself and for itself; and space or matter is difference in degree outside itself and for us. Therefore, between the two there are all the degrees of difference or, in other words, the whole nature of difference. Duration is only the most contracted degree of matter, matter the most expanded (detendu) degree of duration. But duration is like a naturing nature (nature naturante), and matter a natured nature (nature naturée). Differences in degree are the lowest degree of Difference; differences in kind (nature) are the highest nature of Difference. There is no longer any dualism between nature and degrees [of matter]. All the degrees coexist in a single Nature that is expressed, on the one hand, in differences in kind, and on the other, in differences in degree. This is the moment of monism: All the degrees coexist in a single Time, which is nature in itself. There is no contradiction between this monism and dualism, as moments of the method. For the duality was valid between actual tendencies, between actual directions leading beyond the first turn in experience. But the unity occurs at a second turn: The coexistence of all the degrees, of all the levels is virtual, only virtual. The point of unification is itself virtual. This point is not without similarity to the One-Whole of the Platonists. All the levels of expansion (détente) and contraction coexist in a single Time and form a totality; but this Whole, this One, are pure virtuality. This Whole has parts, this One has a number — but only potentially. This is why Bergson is not contradicting himself when he speaks of different intensities or degrees in a virtual coexistence, in a single Time, in a simple Totality (92—4)

 

And finally this, a scan of the whole thing:

'A F T E R W 0 R D

A Return to Bergson

A “return to Bergson” does not only mean a renewed admiration for a great philosopher but a renewal or an extension of his project today, in relation to the transformations of life and society, in parallel with the transformations of science. Bergson himself considered that he had made metaphysics a rigorous discipline, one capable of being continued along new paths which constantly appear in the world. It seems to us that the return to Bergson, understood in this way, rests on three main features.

Intuition

Bergson saw intuition not as an appeal to the ineffable, a participation in a feeling or a lived identification, but as a true method. This method sets out, firstly, to determine the conditions of problems, that is to say, to expose false problems or wrongly posed questions, and to discover the variables under which a given problem must be stated as such. The means used by intuition are, on the one hand, a cutting up or division of reality in a given domain, according to lines of different natures and, on the other hand, an intersection of lines which are taken from various domains and which converge. It is this complex linear operation, consisting in a cutting up according to articulations and an intersecting according to convergences, which leads to the proper posing of a problem, in such a way that the solution itself depends on it.

Science and Metaphysics

Bergson did not merely criticize science as if it went no further than space, the solid, the immobile. Rather, he thought that the Absolute has two “halves," to which science and metaphysics correspond. Thought divides into two paths in a single impetus, one toward matter, its bodies and movements, and the other toward spirit, its qualities and changes. Thus, from antiquity, just as physics related movement to privileged positions and moments, metaphysics constituted transcendent eternal forms from which these positions derive. But "modern” science begins, on the contrary, when movement is related to “any instant whatever”: it demands a new metaphysics which now only takes into account immanent and constantly varying durations. For Bergson, duration becomes the metaphysical correlate of modern science. He, of course, wrote a book, Duration and Simultaneity in which he considered Einstein’s Relativity. This book led to so much misunderstanding because it was thought that Bergson was seeking to refute or correct Einstein, while in fact he wanted, by means of the new feature of duration, to give the theory of Relativity the metaphysics it lacked.  And in his masterpiece, Matter and Memory Bergson draws, from a scientific conception of the brain to which he himself made important contributions, the requirements of a new metaphysic of memory. For Bergson, science is never “reductionist” but, on the contrary, demands a metaphysics — without which it would remain abstract, deprived of meaning or intuition. To continue Bergson’s project today, means for example to constitute a metaphysical image of thought corresponding to the new lines, openings, traces, leaps, dynamisms, discovered by a molecular biology of the brain: new linkings and re-linkings in thought.

Multiplicities

From Time and Free Will onward, Bergson defines duration as a multiplicity, a type of multiplicity. This is a strange word, since it makes the multiple no longer an adjective but a genuine noun. Thus, he exposes the traditional theme of the one and the multiple as a false problem. The origin of the word, Multiplicity or Variety, is physico-mathematical (deriving from Riemann) [see DeLanda on this]. It is difficult to believe that Bergson was not aware of the scientific origin of the term and the novelty of its metaphysical use. Bergson moves toward a distinction between two major types of multiplicities, the one discrete or discontinuous, the other continuous, the one spatial and the other temporal, the one actual, the other virtual. This is a fundamental theme of the encounter with Einstein. Once again, Bergson intends to give multiplicities the metaphysics which their scientific treatment demands. This is perhaps one of the least appreciated aspects of his thought — the constitution of a logic of multiplicities.

To rediscover Bergson is to follow or carry forward his approach in these three directions. It should be noted that these three themes are also to be found in phenomenology - intuition as method, philosophy as rigorous science and the new logic as theory of multiplicities. It is true that these notions are understood very differently in the two cases. There is nevertheless a possible convergence as can be seen in psychiatry where Bergsonism inspired the works of Minkowski (Le temps vécu) and in phenomenology those of Binswanger (Le cas Susan Urban), in his explorations of space-times in psychoses. Bergsonism makes possible a whole pathology of duration. In an outstanding article on “paramnesia” (false recognition), Bergson invokes metaphysics to show how a memory is not constituted after present perception, but is strictly contemporaneous with it, since at each instant duration divides into two simultaneous tendencies, one of which goes toward the future and the other falls back into the past. He also invokes psychology, in order to then show how a failure of adaptation can make memory invest the present as such. Scientific hypothesis and metaphysical thesis are constantly combined in Bergson in the reconstitution of complete experience.

 

GILLES DELEUZE

Paris, ]uly 1988

Translated by Hugh Tomlinson'


Holdsworth, D.  (2013).  Philosophical Problematisation and Mathematical Solution: Learning Science with Gilles Deleuze.  In I Semetsky and D.Masny (eds).  Deleuze and Education (138 -54).  Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

[These are rules contained in Deleuze's book on Bergson]

First rule: Apply the test of true and false to problems themselves.  Condemn false problems and reconcile truth and creation at the level of problems.  ['This is followed by one of Deleuze's most forceful remarks about schooling: we are wrong to believe that the true and the false can only be brought to bear on solutions, that they only begin with solutions.  This prejudice is social…  Moreover, this prejudice goes back to childhood, to the classroom: it is the schoolteacher who "poses" the problems; the pupils task is to discover the solution.  In this way we are kept in a kind of slavery'., quoting page 15 of Deleuze's book].

Second Rule: struggle against illusion, we discover the true differences in kind or articulations of the real.

Third Rule: State rules and solve them in terms of time rather than of space.  (149-150)

[This is also argued in a section on problems and solutions in Difference and Repetition]



An aside by me

I have recently ( September 2013, and about 18 months after reading Bergsonism) read a shorter essay on Bergson in Deleuze's Desert Islands. I found it pretty informative and even clear. If I had to teach the topic I would see Bergson on subjective memory as one way to grasp a deeper notion of duration, as one degree of duration. It is a good way to begin, since subjectively the past IS joined to the present,and when we inhabit the past we can see how many other 'series', actual lives, could have been developed. Deleuze argues that the evolution of species is also a degree of duration for Bergson. So we can go from those attainable degrees to 'intuit' what the most virtual degree of duration might be?

Another thing strikes me on considering this analogy between Bergson on memory and the more general discussion on the virtual and actualization in Deleuze.  I can see how subjective duration in Bergson constantly generates new thoughts, insights and feelings in the present.  Although we have new experiences as well, our unconscious memory serves to interpret and react to those new experiences to a considerable extent: in some cases, obviously, new experiences aren't new at all.

How does that work with ontological duration and actualization?  Is ontological duration, virtual reality, similarly constantly producing new actualizations, and new elements that are bound together in various ways like in assemblages or heterogeneous haecceities?  Are there no independent empirical processes of production, relating to actualizations themselves? [Deleuze might be trying to allow for this in his separation of differenCiation and differeniation -- my capitals -- in Difference and Repetition]  Or is there some compromise process at work, whereby empirical modifications of haecceities, such as people or institutions, are limited in some last instance by the operations of the virtual?  I must say I still can't find a consistent answer in Deleuze.  On the one hand, liberatory politics seems to offer a chance of substantially transforming empirical assemblages like families, states and organizations, all based on some once and for all quality of the virtual—its ability to generate desire and its source of possibilities. On the other, the complete absence of sustained empirical discussion in Deleuze, based on a dismissal of empirical sciences as limited to reified facts seems to leave no space at all for any substantial transformations of any actualizations in themselves. 

There might be an exception in that individual liberated philosophers can transform things, at least in their own imaginations, but there seems little hope for anyone else—even scientists are trapped in a reified view of self sufficient facts.  Even if we all deeply desire a more liberated life, we will always be constrained by the brute facticity that we see around us.  Deleuze sees no room for the usual contradictions or complexities in that facticity, except at a philosophical level? [Maybe -- there is a bit more hope in the 'activist' bits of Thousand Plateaus -- eg chs. 9 or 13 -- although this is still philosophical politics].


Bergson, H. (2008) [1911] Creative Evolution. Gutenberg Ebooks
Notes here

Bergson , H. (2004) [1912] Matter and Memory. New York: Dover Publications Inc
Notes here

Deleuze's commentaries on Bergson in the books on the cinema  here



More extensive notes on: Deleuze, G. (1988) Bergsonism. Trans Hugh Tomlinson and Barbra Habberjam.New York: Zone Books

Dave Harris

Translators Introduction

Deleuze apparently saw in Bergson one of those philosophers who oppose the scholastic tradition.  He said that duration was clearly a key theme, but so was 'becomings of all kinds' and 'coexistent multiplicities'.  Deleuze himself said this helps him develop 'constructive pluralism' on to describe himself as 'an empiricist engaged in tracing the becomings of which multiplicities are made up' [apparently in Dialogues].  That they have problems in common is seen best in the media books  (here and here).  Elan vital is usually translated as life impulse, but it really connotes vigour and momentum.  Recollection and memory are also separated more clearly.  The different senses of 'detente' are also separated, since it can mean relaxation as opposed to contraction, but also a more active notion of springing or expansion, as when a gas is released from pressure: the terms 'relaxation' and 'expansion' are therefore used depending on context.

Chapter one.  Intuition as method.

The relation between duration, memory and elan vital is uncovered by intuition.  This is a fully developed method with strict rules.  Intuition already implies duration, but is secondary both to duration and memory.  The latter denote lived realities and the former a means of knowing them.  If we did not have methodological intuition, we would have to rely on ordinary intuition, and there would be no systematic knowledge.  Intuition implies some immediate knowledge, but it has to be transformed into a method.  It involves 'various directions in which it comes to be actualized', a plurality of meanings and multiple aspects.  There are three components: the stating and creation of problems, the discovery of genuine differences in kind, the apprehension of real time.

We can examine the first stage in the form of a rule—test the truth or falsity of problems, condemn false problems, and remain at the level of problems when discussing truth and creation.  There is a turn away from solutions, because that is a form of transmitting order words, initially in the schoolroom. 'True freedom lies in a power to decide, to constitute problems themselves'. Instead, it is necessary to posit problems clearly, and once this is done, the solution is often apparent.  Such positing is a form of invention, as we see when new problems are posed in mathematics [there is a similar bit on this in Difference and Repetition].  Even Marx noted that humanity only solves the problems it is capable of solving.  The solution is what counts but it must be adequate to the problem.  Human history progresses by posing the right sort of problems, and 'becoming conscious of that activity is like the conquest of freedom'(16).  The problem itself is rooted in life or the elan vital: life consists of overcoming obstacles, and the organism itself can be seen both to state a problem and solve it. 

What of truth and falsity?  It is conventional to judge this by whether the problem can be solved, but Bergson defines the false problem quite differently, in a complementary rule: false problems either confuse the more and the less, or refer to 'badly analyzed composites' (17).  The first turns on the notion of nothingness or disorder, and the second involved problems of freedom or intensity.  In discussing disorder and non being, Bergson insists there is not less but more [see Creative Evolution], already the idea of order plus its negation plus some social or pedagogic motivation.  The possible, similarly, is the real combined with an act of mind connecting it with the past, and a motive again.  Such false problems involve a '"retrograde movement of the true" [I couldn't find this in Bergson himself, although I recognize the argument] where being and order are 'supposed to precede themselves, or to precede the creative act that constitutes them, by projecting an image of themselves back into a possibility, a disorder, a nonbeing'(18).  There's a whole critique of the negative involved.  With badly stated problems, things have been grouped together although they differ in kind, such as the 'very varied irreducible states' involved in happiness.  Intensity is another composite, where the quality of the sensation is combined with the quantity of a physical cause.  Freedom displays two types of multiplicity, one of terms in space and one of states in duration.

The less can also be mistaken for the more, if doubt about an action is added to it, say: here, a negation is used to indicate a weakness in the person doing the denying rather than something lacking in the action.  This actually does not contradict the earlier view that negation involves adding, because Bergson is saying really that the whole problem is with thinking in terms of more and less, seeing being as having an absence, when really there may well be 'two or more irreducible orders' (19) [I think Bergson puts this much better]: nonbeing appears as a substitute for grasping different realities which are mixed together in some homogeneous Being.  Similarly, possibilities are traced back to this preformed being 'instead of grasping each existent in its novelty'.  The two kinds of false problem actually can be combined, because badly formed composites are apparent in both.  Another way of putting thinking in terms of more or less is seeing only differences in degree or intensity, missing differences in kind.  Both subtypes are produced by a particular illusion, based in our intelligence itself [because intellect is based on action]: it can only ever be repressed in the intellect and compensated by a second tendency in intuition.  Intuition rediscovers differences in kind and supplies the criteria to define true and false problems: thus the intellect state's problems, while the intellect finds solutions, but 'only intuition decides between the true and the false and the problems that are stated' (20) [I think this is a bit stronger than Bergson's actual argument].

The second rule urges us to struggle against illusion and find true differences in kind or articulations of the real.  Bergson seems to operate with a number of dualisms such as duration - space [duration vs. clock time would be better surely?] the two multiplicities, contraction and relaxation and so on.  But these offer a procedure to divide a composite into its 'natural articulations' between elements which differ in kind.  This is what makes intuition 'a method of division'.  Experience offers us nothing but composites, but we construct our own as when we combine time with space in an overall representation.  It then becomes difficult to isolate the elements in that representation, to consider duration and extensity in this case.  We can only oppose to this composite some abstract principle [such as general becoming or general movement].  We commonly mix recollection and perception without knowing what exactly belongs to which.  The same goes with the presence of matter and memory.  When we measure these mixtures, we have to use an impure and mixed unit.  Hence the obsession with the pure, aimed at restoring differences in kind.  What differs in kind can only be understood as a tendency, and it is these tendencies that we find in composites, in directions of movement for example, including contraction and expansion.  Here, intuition can look like transcendental analysis aiming at pure presences, but these 'are the conditions of real experience', not the conditions of all possible experience as in Kant. 

The underlying theme is to distinguish differences in degree from differences in kind, unlike other positions.  For example conventional metaphysics sees only differences in degree between conventional time and eternity which is supposed to be primary, or it arranges everything on a scale of intensity between perfection and nothingness.  Science does something similar, relating mechanism to spatialized time in which things differ only in terms of their position or dimension.  In evolution there is a similar mechanism invoking a unilinear process proceeding through simple transitions and variations of degree.  In psychology as well, in Matter and Memory, the differences in kind between perception and affection or perception and recollection are also glossed, so that we think perception is inextensive [and lots of other false problems]. 

The complexity of intuition is also shown in that book: Bergson first denies that there is a difference in kind between brains and other images, or the nervous activity of brain and the nervous activity of spinal column.  As a result, the brain does not manufacture representations but translates movements into actions, establishing an interval in which affections and recollections can appear.  The issue then turns on where perceptions appear, and Bergson argues that the interest of a living thing selects the elements, subtracts from the object.  The object might become a pure virtual perception, but real perceptions merge with the reduced object.  This explains the argument that we perceive things where they are, that perception puts us into matter 'is impersonal and coincides with the perceived object'(25). 

That process defines the whole procedure, first to find terms which do not differ in kind but only in degree, then to focus on differences in kind.  We have to move away from assumptions such as the body being a succession of instants in time, which are given in experience.  However, we can now ask 'what fills up the cerebral interval, what takes advantage of it to become embodied'.  First, affectivity which locates the body in space [known longer something abstract, some point which produces perceptions].  Second, recollections link instants to each other from past and present.  Thirdly memory as 'a contraction of matter' [I'm confused again—this time it is matter that contracts making it something separate from memory?  Contraction memory is the same as pure memory?] which adds qualities ['makes the quality appear'].  Memory gives the body a duration.  Together, we have a new notion of subjectivity, extending the notion of perception alone.

The pure version of these processes cannot be represented—perception puts us immediately into matter, and memory puts us immediately into mind.  The two are mixed in our experience, our own representations, but they are one of these composites offering false problems again if we do not go beyond experience to discover the two processes that are articulated.  A proper psychology would restore them both to their pure states rather than taking the mixed states as simple.  In practice, it becomes impossible to dissociate recollection from perception, whereas in reality what is happening is that one or the other becomes predominant.  What we have done here is to go beyond the state of experience to examine 'the conditions of experience'(27).

These are the conditions of real experience, not just abstractions.  We can see what happens by reflecting on our own consciousness as it becomes utilitarian: before that turn we see differences in kind.  But it is difficult to do this and we need a multiple set of acts of intuition, sometimes a broadening out, sometimes a narrowing.  The broadening arises because once we push back into our own consciousness, we see these processes as taking on a much broader set of implications: pure perceptions become identical to the whole of matter, pure memory identical to the whole of the past.  This explains the similarity with calculus, being able to project and reconstruct the whole curve from a section of it.  Bergson intends to open to 'the inhuman and the superhuman' varieties of duration as the aim of philosophy.

But this is still not a matter of heading for concepts in the broadest sense, 'the conditions of all possible experience in general' as in Kant (28).  We are still looking at real experience and we're trying to find 'the articulations' on which it depends.  This will lead us towards not concepts but pure percepts [an intention apparently expressed in The Creative Mind], enabling us to model the concept on the thing itself, the specific thing, something broad enough to account for that specific thing: the thing is seen as something located at the intersection between the extended processes we have discussed.  Experience already combines them, but we're talking here about a virtual image, beyond experience, 'the virtual image of the point of departure'(28) [actualization? Beyond actualization?].  This is how we might get to the sufficient reason of the thing and of composites.  So beyond the turn in consciousness toward action and matter lies first divergence and then become versions in the virtual image.  Dualism will eventually lead to a monism, a single truth [a reference to The Two Sources of Morality and Religion this time].  Both of these turns indicate what Bergson calls precision.

Hence an addition to the second rule whereby the real is not only that which is cut out according to differences in kind, 'it is also that which intersects again...along paths converging to the same ideal or virtual point' (29).  This shows how if we stake the problem properly it will be solved.  We proceed from the notion of the perception and recollection as composite which is then divided into pure directions which are different in kind, but we follow these directions back until they converge again, to the virtual point or the departure point 'at which recollection inserts itself into perception'.  This shows how different lines, including objectivity and subjectivity will converge.  The same goes with the body/soul relation where memory is originally distinguished from mystical experience [much of this comes now from Mind - Energy].  As we trace these lines back in their divergence displaying their differences in kind, they come to represent 'a superior empiricism', based not on ordinary experience, but trying to examine the concrete conditions in which lines diverge and converge.  As they converge, 'a superior probablism' becomes apparent, a qualitative probablism [I'm just having to take this from what Deleuze says], and this will help us solve problems by fully grasping how things have been conditioned [maybe].

The third rule says that we should state problems in terms of time rather than space [this is one solution to the link between subjectivity and objectivity, in Matter and Memory].  This means we should think in terms of duration and how it works.  We start to see it by thinking about differences in kind in the movement of various tendencies as above.  If we look at the division between duration and space, that is the primary one: duration tends to take on and develop all the differences in kind because it offers qualitative variation; space only offers differences of degree and offers quantitative changes in something homogeneous.  Only one shows differences in kind.  In actual composites, we can understand those which depend on differences in degree in space, and display differences like augmentation or diminution, and those which offer differences in kind as qualitative alteration.  The famous lump of sugar example shows that we can grasp it as different from other things in terms of its quantitative dimensions, but we need to look at its duration to understand the changes that go on when it dissolves in water—here it has changed in kind from itself.  When we think of our own duration passing as we watch it dissolve, we experience impatience, but we also discover 'other durations that beat to other rhythms' (32)—nonhuman ones different in kind from mine.  Duration can then mean the totality and multiplicity of differences in kind, just as space indicates the totality of differences in degree.

This means that when we divide composites according to the differences of degree or of kind,, we are choosing between space and time.  Time becomes the dimension for the essence of the composite.  We get there through intuition, so 'intuition has become method' and 'method has been reconciled with the immediate' [the immediate experience that is?].  Intuition involves making use of our own duration to discover the positive power of other durations.  This moves beyond idealism and realism, and affirms the existence of objects inferior and superior to us, which are themselves only differences in kind [Creative Mind].  This makes duration more than just a subjective experience, and helps intuition develop insight into what is a true problem, what is a genuine difference in kind.


False problems arise as an illusion from the need for action and from the habits of a particular society.  There is an affinity between the intellect and space, and conventional philosophy also obscures differences in kind by imposing some artificial order of general ideas.  All generalities tend to dissolve differences in kind and imply homogeneous dimensions of space and time.  This might be said of the natural psychology of human beings, but there are more profound reasons.  Matter and extensity are realities, and they also affect the order of space, so that that order is grounded 'in the nature of things' (34).  We do find differences in degree in matter, so it is not surprising to find them in composite form in experience [getting close to one reading of Marx on ideology here, the discourse theoretical approach of Mepham, where reality itself is distorted not just our thought of it].  Experience makes it impossible to grasp the differences in kind that underpin composites.  This is also what is involved in the retrograde movement of the true, which is found in 'the true itself'.  Our standpoint leads us to see transitions as differences of degree, not only because of our nature, but because a particular side of being is presented to us.

Bergson wants to see duration as not just a psychological experience but 'the variable essence of things, providing the theme of a complex ontology'.  But at the same time, he became reluctant to see space as just a fiction, and saw it instead as grounded in being, expressing one of its directions.  The underlying absolute has two sides or aspects: 'spirit imbued with metaphysics, and matter known by science' (35), but science is not just the relative knowledge or a symbolic discipline—it is also part of ontology, 'one of ontology's two halves'.  The absolute displays both differences in degree and differences in kind, so science is also heading to the absolute.  However it is not self sufficient, and differences in kind are what produce differences of proportion as they appear in space and matter.

So intuition is a method with rules.  It criticizes false problems and invents genuine ones, it offers a differentiating aspects and it involves temporality, but there is still a problem connecting it to duration.


Chapter two.  Duration as immediate datum

Duration appears first as psychological experience, discussed in terms of change or becoming, but one that endures, becomes substance itself.  It features both continuity and heterogeneity.  However it is not just lived experience but something beyond it, 'already a condition of experience', because experience just gives us composites of space and duration.  In pure duration there is no exteriority or literal space.  Deleuze says this is actually an memory of the past without the dynamic bits.  In this composite space can appear as something with extrinsic distinctions, homogeneous and discontinuous sections.  We have in effect decomposed duration into these parts.

The composite must be redivided, at first into two directions, the pure and the impure directions.  Duration is associated with 'the right side, the good side of the composite' which is what makes it 'immediate datum'.  This division also shows us two types of multiplicity, one represented by space combined with homogeneous time, juxtaposition, quantitative differentiation, difference of degree, while the other type appears in pure duration as a multiplicity of succession, heterogeneity, qualitative difference, difference in kind.  The latter can not be quantified.

Bergson did much to introduce the term multiplicity to replace earlier notions such as continuum.  It does not just refer to the philosophical notion of the multiple, to be opposed to the one.  The idea probably originated with Riemann who defined the multiplicity as determined in terms of its dimensions or in dependent variables.  There were both discrete and continuous multiplicities, the first  having as a 'principle of metrics' 'the measure of one of their parts being given by the number of elements they contain' (39)].  The latter had its principle in 'phenomena unfolding in them or in the forces acting in them'.  Bergson was to draw on this work in Duration and Simultaneity, since Einstein's relativity depended on Riemann.  This book is usually regarded as strange, but it is the product of a formerly implicit debate with Riemann. 

Bergson subsequently admitted that he was not able to follow all the mathematical implications of his own theory of multiplicities, but at least he had modified Riemann's distinction.  Now continuous multiplicity is belong in duration, something that only changes in kind, something that can be measured only by using different metrical principles at each stage of its division.  This was what underpinned his discussion of Einstein.  He thought that multiplicities in duration could be studied with the precision of science and should be used to develop it.

The argument is expressed in Time and Free Will, a forerunner to Matter and Memory, distinguishing the subjective and the objective.  The difference turns on whether something is already completely known [subjective] or whether it constantly generates new impressions.  The context is that the object can be divided in an infinite number of ways, but these have to be grasped by thought as possible without changing the object itself—so they are already in the image of the object, perceptible in principle if not actually perceived [the term apperception also appears, meaning perceptible in principle here?].  In other words, what is objective 'has no virtuality', and everything is actual.  This is applied to matter itself, and explains why we can 'assimilate it to "the image"'(41).  There might be something else in quantitative terms, but no differences in kind.  Matter just presents itself to us, with no residual interiors or deeper layers.  Matter divides by differences in degree, using the same numbers and units each time, and the numbers themselves can be subdivided into fractions, say.  This characteristic also shows that matter is extended.

Qualitative multiplicities are used in the definition of the subject or the subjective.  We have complex feelings, for example, and once they are clearly distinguished, or actualized in consciousness, the psychic state changes, as in complexes of love and hatred.  So a duration can divide subsequently, 'that is why it is a multiplicity' (42), but not without changing in kind.  Each state is indivisible, 'other without there being several'.  So the subjective is the virtual 'in the course of being actualized', not just a collection of already actualized options.  This multiplicity is no longer spatial but 'purely temporal' and is constantly actualizing itself, but only along created 'lines of differentiation that correspond to its differences in kind'.  It is a more simple multiplicity as well as more heterogeneous and continuous.

Thus we have introduced the motion of the virtual, which will be increasingly important, partly in Bergson's analysis of the possible, and in connection with his whole philosophy of memory and life.  We are departing from conventional notions of the One and the Multiple, and with the philosophical accounts that work with them.  These explain the real in terms of general ideas, and one form is to work with the Self as the thesis and the multiple as the antithesis, while the unity of the multiple offers synthesis, and similar dialectical processes link being and nonbeing.  For Bergson, these foundational concepts are too did, too general, abstract.  There is no way to compensate for one inadequate concept by invoking its opposite which is equally general and broad: we never get to the concrete or the singular [references to Creative Mind].  The dialectic, including Hegel's is  'false movement' between abstract concepts that lack precision.

Bergson has more time for Plato, who also criticized abstract notions of the One and the Multiple, demanding concrete details of the stages and the unities.  Bergin similarly argues for precise concepts, 'what unity, what multiplicity, what reality' (45).  That is why duration can never be analyzed in terms of abstract concepts and dialectical interplay: differences of degree and forms will not appear.  We need instead to examine ' "nuance" or the potential number'.  The opposition between duration and becoming arises because duration is a multiplicity, not the same as a multiple, not as simple as a 'One'.

Bergson condemns all forms of the negative, since they are conceived in terms of being something opposed to more positive terms, and again exaggerate this opposition, missing all the concrete differences between them.  [So this adds to the logical contradictions identified by Bergson himself between the negative and the positive, how the first one always implies some conception of the second, and so on—in Creative Evolution] These differences do not depend on negation.  Negation glosses over the crucial difference between two types of multiplicity and is thus a 'mystification'(47).  These themes, including opposition to the general, run throughout the philosophy.

Movement as normally experienced is also a composite.  It features a notion of metricated space as a numerical multiplicity, combined with a notion of pure movement, 'which is alteration, a virtual qualitative multiplicity'.  This runs beneath movements between standard units of space and time.  We experience real movement 'from inside [as] on obstacle avoided' (48).  However, emphasizing psychological experience does not clarify whether external things endure as well.  Early Bergson, in Time and Free Will wrote of the necessity was not able to specify a reason for the endurance of external things, and prioritized consciousness as providing the reason.  Later Bergson argued that movement actually belongs to things as well, since they possess qualities too.  Thus psychological duration has as its main role, a leading us into ontological duration.  This follows from seeing duration as a multiplicity, although problems remain, such as whether duration is the same as Being.  We also need to rethink the issue of space as not just something exterior, 'a sort of screen that denatures duration'(49) or impurity: space itself must have an ontological dimension, its own purity, a relation to the absolute.

Chapter three.  Memory as virtual coexistence

Duration is memory and this provides consciousness with freedom.  It conserves and preserves the past in the present.  It  offers recollections, immediate perceptions and a number of pure ['"contracting a number of external moments"', (50)] moments.  There is no repetition of instants since memory is added.  The different levels contract or condense into each other rather than disappear at particular times.  So there are at least two aspects of memory—recollection- memory and contraction- memory.  The present that endures divides into one direction which is 'oriented and dilated towards the past' while the other is 'contracted, contracting towards the future'[contraction here meaning tightly focused upon?].  This is so in theory, but what mechanisms are actually involved when duration becomes memory, or consciousness, life itself, become self consciousness?

Matter and Memory provides five aspects of subjectivity: (1) 'need - subjectivity' where our interest selects something from the object, 'makes a hole in the continuity of things' (52); (2) 'brain- subjectivity', based on the interval of  indetermination allowing choice; (3) 'affection- subjectivity' a moment of pain, since the mobility of organic parts involves 'a purely receptive role that surrenders them to pain'[pain is the result of affect here, not pleasure?]; (4) 'recollection- subjectivity' where recollection helps fill the interval, 'being embodied or actualized'; (5) 'contraction - subjectivity' drawing upon the second level of memory where the body operates with 'the contraction [condensation, but also in the sense of focusing on understanding something?] of the experienced excitations from which quality is born'(53).

These five aspects lie at different levels or depths, but they also offer two different lines 'of fact'.  The composite representation is divided into matter and memory, perception and recollection, objective and subjective, and (1) and (2) belong to the objective line, abstracting something from the object and then establishing a  'zone of indetermination'[which will permit action and choice].  Affection is more complex and is not yet treated entirely positively as an aspect of pure subjectivity: it's the impurity that intrudes into subjectivity.  A pure subjectivity is apparent only with (4) and (5), while the other aspects attempt to organize the lines of perception and recollection.

Asking where memories are preserved involves a false problem, as if memory was a composite preserved in the brain.  But the brain is concerned with objectivity, but as part of a multiplicity.  The brain organizes perceptions as 'an "instantaneous section"'.  Recollection is already part of 'the line of subjectivity', and the two lines should not be mixed.  Recollections are preserved in duration, or in themselves.  This is why inward experience gives us something that endures, something indestructible [the past] that preserves itself.  For the brain to store this experience, it would also have to be able to preserve itself, as no other matter can.

'There must be a difference in kind between matter and memory' (55), between pure reception and pure recollection, between the present and the past, between the two lines [or levels].  We find this difficult because we normally think of Being as 'being - present'.  However, the present 'is pure becoming', not a state in itself, something dominated by action and utility, quite unlike the past.  The past may be inactive or impassive, but it is still an aspect of being.  It cannot be seen as something that was, because it persists as preserved being.  Conventional notions of present and past must therefore be reversed: the present is always something passing, something that was, and the past is something eternally.

We are not just talking about psychology.  There is a pure form of recollection other than our psychological experience of it, and it is 'virtual, inactive, and unconscious'.  All these terms are 'dangerous', as Freud knew.  For Bergson, the unconscious 'denotes a nonpsychological reality -- being as it is in itself' (56).  The psychological is the present, but the past is 'pure ontology', so recollection has 'only ontological significance'.  This is shown in Bergson's insistence that we detach from the present and place ourselves in a region of the past when we recollect, and there we find something virtual which has to be actualized by adopting the right sort of attitude and effort.  This is meant to be seen as a genuine leap into a real past, and we can only grasp the past this way.  The past is eternal and for all time, and is the source of all subjective pasts.  When we leap into the past, we 'leap into ontology...into being, into being in itself' (57).  We leave personal psychology, although we have to reengage it as an actualization or embodiment of the virtual, as we shall soon see.

Language is to be seen in the same way.  We do not recompose individual words into sense, but 'place ourselves at once in the element of sense, then in a region of this element.  A true leap into Being'.  Sense is transcended, and language has an ontological foundation.  The notion of the leap might seem strange when combined with an insistence on continuity, but it is essential: we can never get to the past by somehow reconsidering present images, but rather we contact images that are already located in the past.

There might be a double quality of the past here, as both 'the old present that it once was'(58), and as a dimension of the actual present.  This is responsible for the false belief that the past can only be reconstituted after it has been present, that it requires the new present.  This illusion is found in all 'physiological and psychological theories of memory'[or at least the ones that Bergson wants to criticize].  The difference between recollection and perception is seen as one of degree, composite images are not analyzed, especially the process by which they actualize recollections, or the difference in degree between recollection images and perception images.

The present has too large a role in normal thinking, and we do not commonly ask how it is that new presents come about, or how the old ones are replaced.  The past can only be constituted at the time it was present, so it is really '"contemporaneous" with the present that it has been', rather than being something more general that has persisted.  Nor could it be connected to the future.  The past and present are 'two elements which coexist'(59).  Rather than following the present, the past is a necessary 'pure condition' for the present, otherwise it would not pass: the past is presupposed by the present.  This is 'a platonic inspiration'.

The past coexists with the present that has been, but preserves itself in itself, as 'the whole, integral past; it is all our past which coexists with each present'.  The metaphor of the cone illustrates this.  It follows that there are different levels in the past, different sections in the cone, relating to 'all the possible intervals in this coexistence'.  Each section is virtual.  Each section includes the totality of the past 'more or less expanded or contracted'.  In this way, recollection memory becomes pure memory [as it relaxes?].  In duration, there is coexistence rather than succession.

In Time...  duration is defined by succession, coexistence refers to space, and repetition to matter, including novelty.  In fact, duration is virtual coexistence, where all the levels and tensions coexist.  Some element of repetition must be already introduced, both of physical repetition of matter, and a repetition of planes rather than elements, 'virtual instead of actual repetition'.  The past repeats and restarts at the same time on all the levels it occupies, as when Bergson talks about locating ourselves first in the past in general and then into a certain region of it: each level and region contains the whole of our past, but in a more or less contracted state.

The argument can be seen as offering a number of paradoxes: the 'paradox of the leap' which we use to get into the past; the 'paradox of Being' where there's a difference in kind between present and past; the 'paradox of coexistence', where the past as not follow the present but coexists with it; the 'paradox of psychic repetition' where what coexists with each present is the whole of the past although it occupies different levels of contraction (61).  The paradoxes are interconnected, so are their targets, the ordinary theories of memory, based on 'a single badly analyzed composite', the supposed essence of Time.  It is this composite notion that leads us to believe that we can organize levels of time by a before and after, and that the mind can add elements from the present to the past and vice versa.

How does recollection get actualized?  The present makes some sort of appeal and that makes us leap into a particular region, which we assume corresponds to our needs.  Sometimes, there are dominant recollections, 'remarkable points' (62) which guide our explorations, and which lead to different regions depending on how we respond to particular stimuli.  Sometimes recollection fails because we are on the wrong level, it is too contracted or expanded, and we must return to the present and leap again: this looks entirely psychological but it involves a relationship with Being.  Psychological consciousness has to wait for correct ontology.  This also means that current psychological theories have to be criticized and clarified on ontological grounds, to establish proper distinctions.  So when we recollect, we place ourselves in the virtual as well as in the past.  When we recall an image, we are actualizing recollections into recollection-images capable of helping us in the present.  Actualization takes place through different stages and degrees [the reference here is to Matter and Memory], but it is actualization alone that occupies psychological consciousness.  This is a process that moves from past to present, from recollection back to perception.

Memory responds to obstacles in the present by translating, moving to meet experience and thus contracting with a view to action.  It also rotates so as to orient to the most useful side of the object encountered.  These processes seem to be the same as the general processes of contraction or expansion of levels going on in the sections of the cone, but there are differences.  The levels of the past are still virtual, and each contains the whole of the past in a contracted state, together with dominant recollections.  The extent of contraction is used to differentiate levels, but translation refers to actualization, and contraction becomes a movement on a particular level.  Actualization does not require a movement through more and more connected levels: we do not have to change levels. Contraction as actualization here means coalescing with the present through the various 'planes of consciousness' (65).  But these are not the same as the levels of memory.  'Intensive, ontological contraction'  refers to levels coexisting in different states being contracted or relaxed, while psychological contraction, no matter how relaxed the level is, involves actualization and becoming an image.

Rotation is less well explained as another process that ends in an image.  Levels of memory are  'contracted in an undivided representation that is no longer a pure recollection, but is not yet, strictly speaking, an image'(66).  This undivided representation is also called the '"dynamic scheme"'since all recollections relate to each other reciprocally, before turning into distinct images more tightly controlled by particular recollections [reference here is to Mind - Energy: the note explains that Bergson uses a slightly different metaphor for memory here, a pyramid rather a cone, which Deleuze thinks is more dynamic].  Coalescing with the present involves a division, actually a circuit with the present where recollection images refer back to perception images and vice versa: this is preceded by rotation.

So overall actualization involves two movements, one of contraction and one of expansion, to 'correspond closely' to the different levels of the cone [logical correspondence?].  We see this with the very different connection with the present when we dream, and where interest is disengaged so there is no need for contraction, and the past appears in its most expanded way.  In an automaton focused exclusively on present action it would be the reverse.  However, Bergson himself left this correspondence ambiguous, although Deleuze separates them, with the first process involving 'virtual variations of recollection in itself', and the second 'recollection for us, the actualization of the recollection in the recollection-image' (67).

The image extends itself in movement, and this is the 'final moment of actualization', where actualization gets a '"a motor ally"', helping to break down what is perceived in the name of utility.  This produces automatic recognition without recollection, an instantaneous memory in motor mechanisms ['muscle memory'] .  Normally, though, recollection-images do intervene in perception: 'they become "adopted" by it' (68).  We see this if the motor scheme is disturbed mechanically, making normal recognition impossible [as in some pathologies].  This disrupts the final phase of action although recollection images are still there [as in cases of 'psychic or verbal blindness or deafness'].

In attentive recognition, it is not so much movements that extend and modify our perception in the interests of utility, but movements that restores the object 'in its detail and completeness'.  Then, recollection images play a major part.  If that process is disturbed by pathology, recollection itself seems to disappear, as in aphasia, and it looks as if that is because recollections are stored in the brain.  However pure recollection has not disappeared because it is imperishable even if not in consciousness. The problem is that the processes of translation and rotation 'depend on a psychic attitude', while the different types of movement involved depend on 'sensory- motricity and the attitude of bodies' (69), and the two are not entirely connected.  The various kinds of disruptions of automatic recognition are produced by 'mechanical disturbances of sensory-motricity', but those of attentive reaction involve more dynamic disturbances, and this threatens actualization more profoundly, because mental attitudes are involved as well as corporeal ones. The two processes of actualization can combine differently, translation with contraction but not rotation, so that whole categories of recollection images can disappear.  If rotation occurs, this can form images, but without translation they would be detached from memory.

So there are four aspects of actualization: two 'psychic moments'(translation and rotation);  dynamic movement involving the body which produces an equilibrium, and mechanical movement where the motor scheme completes the final stage.  All the stages involve using the past in terms of the present, forming links with it so that the past can be contracted or expanded respectively.  Dynamic attitudes of the body [stances toward the environment as in action?] harmonize the two psychic moments, 'correcting one by the other' and urging them to their full development.  Mechanical movements of the body address the utility  of the whole performance.  All have to find appropriate conditions valid for all of them.

Recollection gets actualized in 'an image that is itself contemporaneous' to the present now being presented, and it must be embodied in suitable terms for this new present, even though it is in the past.  The very movement of the present itself facilitates this process because it constantly passes by leaving an interval.  This is also important for actualization, because it links the past to a new present [a kind of more definite and novel actualization, not an automatic connection?].  When this fails, we get paramnesia.

So there is both a psychological and an ontological unconscious and they are distinct.  With the ontological unconscious, there are pure and impassive virtual recollections, while with the psychological unconscious there is actualization as a movement of recollection.  Recollections try to become embodied, press to be activated, so 'a full scale repression' is required to ward off any dangerous ones, based on the demands of the present and an attention to life [this is what fails with depressives?].

Chapter four.  One or many durations?

[Very difficult stuff here, probably motivated to a large extent by Deleuze wanting to argue that Bergson is really a monist despite his {self confessed -- in Matter and Memory} dualism.He even wants to rescue him from Einstein! ].

We have seen there is both dualism and monism, a diverging moment where differences in kind are followed and then a converging moment where they seem to turn back into differences of degree.  Certainly a recollection when it is actualized obliterates difference in kind, but staying with this given psychological composite would be misleading, and we need intuition instead.  However, what provides unity 'from the other side of the turn in experience'?  (73).  The answer involves ontology, so that the past coexists with its own present and with itself, but the present is nothing other than 'the most contracted level of the past' (74).  So at the pure level, pure present, pure past, pure perception and pure recollection, pure matter and pure memory, there are only differences of expansion and contraction of 'an ontological unity', hence a new monism.  Perception is now a matter of contraction, the present is a contraction of the past.  We understand sensation itself as a matter of 'contracting trillions of vibrations' [when we see a color is the example], and this is how quality emerges from 'contracted quantity'[I thought there had to be a dialectical link!].

There is a converse.  In the present, 'we place ourselves inside matter', and the present is the most contracted degree of our past, so 'matter itself will be like an infinitely dilated or relaxed past.  This is what was otherwise called extension, and again we see it is not separated from the unextended [I'm still not sure about the first stage of the argument, where the present is contracted, and the present places the self in matter, so the rest of matter must be extended].  Perception is also extensity, and so is sensation [this seems to me to be another leap—perception and sensation record extensity, but are they the same as extensity?].  These operations make space available to us, but again it requires that we have available time, '"in the exact proportion"'to the availability of space [is this only a philosophical way of saying that lengthy perceptions extended over time reveal more extensity?].

In Matter and Memory, movement is the characteristic of things themselves, and matter partakes of duration, at least as a limit case.  This has implications for notions of 'immediate data'.  It is not only the self that experiences duration.  But there are problems: (1) the two moments of the method, one dualist and one monist [to go back a step] might be in contradiction.  After all, by citing differences in kind, we were able to criticize other philosophies that only saw differences of degree.  Differences of degree themselves, AKA intensity, were also seen as false, especially if they lead to negation.  But are not the differences of relaxation and contraction differences of degree or intensity?  Are the differences between the present and matter?  Matter appears to be the 'deterioration of duration'[showing it only in a very relaxed form?].  It might even have become a reversal of duration [horizontal expansion rather than vertical movement,or even matter at a dead stop?] If so, we're close to negation again, with deterioration or reversals as negatives.  All the bad things seem to have been reintroduced.  (2) We seem to have arrived at monism if everything is duration, but duration itself seems to take so many different forms, intense, relaxed, contracted and so on, implying 'a kind of quantitative pluralism' (76).  Hence the importance of asking whether there is one duration or many.

Matter and Memory seems to offer radical plurality of durations, including different rhythms of duration, although these are then seen as themselves duration.  Psychological duration is only one case among an infinity of others, with its characteristics provided by a certain level of tension.  This enables psychology to open onto ontology [when we examine our own psychological processes and try to catch them before the turn to the practical].  When we pursue that turn, being becomes multiple, with our own duration appearing as one among others, some far more intense.  Coexistence takes place in matter, just as it does with levels of the past, seen in terms of different levels of tension.  One implication is that the universe itself is 'a tremendous memory'(77) [zipping between matter and mind as ever].  This is seen as a triumphal intuition going beyond idealism and realism, and seeing objects which are both inferior and superior to us, but coexisting with us.  In Creative Evolution, on the other hand, there is an argument that when things endure, we should understand this in terms of a relation to the Whole of the universe.  Waiting for the piece of sugar to dissolve represents something arbitrary which is being cut out, but which 'opens out onto the universe as a whole'(77). There is no plurality of durations as such although there are still different types -- those of 'beings similar to us (psychological duration),living beings that naturally form relatively closed systems,and, finally,the Whole of the universe...a limited,not a generalized, pluralism'.

Everything is grouped together in Duration and Simultaneity, and the options reviewed.  Bergson says that he once thought there were entirely different durations, but then restricted it to living species only, on the basis of lack of good reason and evidence.  However, matter can participate in our duration and emphasize it—perhaps because it also belonged to the Whole, although there are some reservations now and it is still mysterious.  The third option of a single duration in which everything participates is eventually advanced as the most satisfactory, 'a single time, one, universal, impersonal' (78).  This seems like a real retraction, for example of the notion that duration or real time is a multiplicity.  It has arisen from the confrontation with Einstein and Relativity, and its own notions of expansion and contraction or tension.

This position draws upon new work on the multiplicity, and a distinction from Riemann's notion which had been used by Einstein.  For Bergson, Einstein operated with an idea of movement that involves contraction of bodies and a dilation of time.  There is an implication for simultaneity, since what is simultaneous in a fixed system ceases to be simultaneous in a mobile system.  Accelerated movement, 'contractions of extensity' (79), dilation of time and ruptures of simultaneity are related, with each one belonging to a particular system of reference.  The only possible unity is found in the fourth dimension of space and time, the 'Space - Time bloc'.  Both space and time are divided into an infinite number of these.  Bergson used all these terms for his own purposes and was therefore forced to think again about multiplicity, as a different type of interconnection from the one used by Einstein.  Bergson had already distinguished between actual quantitative multiplicity and virtual qualitative ones.  Einstein would be confined to developing the first kind, and could be criticized for confusing the two.  It is not just a matter of asking whether time is one or multiple, but rather '" what is the multiplicity peculiar to time?"'(80).

Human attention can offer us both different and single perceptions of reality.  There are two main ones, turning on whether we see different specific durations or a single one, but they must also be a third one which enables duration 'to encompass itself' [via transcendental deduction, presumably?].  The only way in which the two fluxes relate or are simultaneous is by referring them to a third flux.  What my attention does is to separate out, say the flight of a bird and my own psychological duration, but there's a third operation necessary to explain simultaneity of the two: 'my own duration divides in two and is reflected in another that contains it at the same time as it contains the flight of the bird'.  My duration can disclose other durations and encompass them as well as encompassing itself.  This notion of duration is not 'simply the indivisible', but a particular kind of division, 'not simply succession but a very special coexistence, a simultaneity of fluxes'(81).  This is what we mean by simultaneity and how we experience it, and thus how we experience " internal duration...real duration"'

We can now see duration has a particular kind of multiplicity, dividing into things that differ in kind.  But that division depends on something carrying it out.  Before such a division, in the virtual, there is only a single time.  When the division has been carried out into two fluxes, differing in kind, this means that a condition must've been fulfilled whereby the parts 'must be lived or at least posited and thought of as capable of being lived'.  But that in turn is only possible 'in the perspective of a single time'.  When we actually see several times at work, we are left with one option, to try and construct 'the image that A has of B, while nevertheless knowing that B cannot live in this way' (82).  We know this is not justifiable in lived experience, so we can only understand it symbolically [so empathy firmly rejected]   [But that symbolism itself involved lived experience?].  Denying symbolism as a representation of real experience, the only right alternative is to say there is only one time, and it is found 'on the level of the actual parts as on the level of the virtual Whole'.  A single Time is the condition of the more divided specific times.

All the events of the material world will be found in a single duration, no longer relying on human consciousness, but working in impersonal time.  We can grasp it in a triple form—the duration of the spectator, the duration of fluxes, and the duration that combines the two.  This removes any contradiction in Bergson's positions and reconciles them: a single time, representing monism, which is itself 'an affinity of actual fluxes (generalized pluralism) that necessarily participate in the same virtual whole (limited pluralism)'.  The differences in kind between the actual fluxes are reconcilable with the differences of relaxation or degree in the virtuality.  Both imply a single time, 'duration as virtual multiplicity'(83).

Again this argument makes sense in terms of the debate with Relativity.  If there are qualitatively distinct fluxes around the observing subjects [usually described as Peter and Paul], we find it difficult to know if they live and perceive the same time.  Einstein [presumably ruled out empathy, quite rightly and] insisted that we could not just privilege one of these times, and that the two times are not the same.  But where do we get this second time?  It can't be just produced by the process illustrated above, where Peter imagines the time for Paul, because this would mean surrendering the individuality of either. In the process, we have to deny the living duration of the other. The two times are supposed to differ only quantitatively, so that we can explain the difference [maybe—the Lorentz transformation?], but this still has implications for the individuality of the lived duration of Peter and Paul.  What we have instead is a single time which is internal to both.  This explains this mysterious other time: 'it is a pure symbol excluding the lived and indicating simply that such a system, and not the other, is taken as a reference point'.  (84).  What Relativity does is to privilege one of these times [and reduce the other to the symbolic?].  It is not a true plurality of time.

Simultaneity similarly is reduced as a living experience and replaced by an agreement between clocks.  This might indeed be relative, but it is a relativity related to the symbolic, 'not something lived or livable'.  Such a symbolic notion of simultaneity also joins together 'the simultaneity between two instants, taken from external movements (nearby phenomenon and a moment of the clock)', and the simultaneity of instants in duration.  The latter presupposes fluxes as we saw, and ultimately 'the conception of duration as the virtual coexistence of all the degrees of a single and identical time'.  This is the main problem with Einstein who confuses the virtual and the actual, and glosses the problem by introducing 'the symbolic factor, that is, of a fiction'(85).  Virtual and actual multiplicities are confused.  Once separated, the virtual one can only be understood as partaking of a single time.

What Einstein does is to find a new way to spatialize time [find new relative ways to accommodate different systems of reference in the notion of the fourth dimension of space - time?].  This has of course been of major importance for science.  But the symbol that expresses the connection is not something experienced, and therefore does not include [human] duration, so Einstein has extended the notion of the multiple, but only in 'conformity with its [quantitative] type of multiplicity'.

Space and time are distinct, but they do overlap.  There is ambiguity in terms of how they relate [seen in the ambiguity of the earlier formulations], but we should not understand them as combined 'into a badly analyzed composite' (86) which appears as a fourth dimension.  Relativity has extended spatialization to such an extent that the composite is joined even more successfully, as a 'especially close - knit mixture' but at the price of blurring the distinction between space and time [quantitative and qualitative durations?].

Bergson suggests that space and time are combined differently.  Extension and contraction coexist with each other.  At the limit of expansion we have matter, which is extensity even if it is not yet space.  As a result, in infinitely relaxed duration, at the limit, moments appear to be placed outside one another, not penetrating each other.  But 'what they lose in tension they gain in extension', and appear as an 'indefinitely divisible continuum'(87).  They also take on a discontinuity that means that 'one must have disappeared when the other appears'.  Space is different, not matter or extension, 'but the "schema" of matter', [looks a bit 'symbolic' itself here] representing the limits of this movement of expansion [when everything is discontinuous or on a continuum, and apparently fixed].  In this sense, space does not represent matter or extensity 'but the very opposite'[looks trickily negative here—the limit is a better metaphor?].  As matter extends itself in its many ways of doing so, so there are 'all kinds of distinct extensities, all related', but all of them end being arranged in space.

Expansion and contraction are relative and relative to each other, so that what is expanded must've been originally contracted and vice versa.  This relativity guarantees duration in matter, and extensity in duration [an affect of relaxation].  We can 'tense' extension ourselves, as when we contract millions of vibrations into one sensation.  All sensations contract extension to different degrees.  Qualities are not just subjective but [initially?] 'belong to matter' and its vibrations.  Extensions take on qualities when they are contracted [by humans?].  Matter is never expanded enough to be pure space without any qualities.  There is always a minimum of contraction and this shows that matter participates in duration and is a part of it.

At the same time, duration can never achieve full independence from internal matter and extensity.  As the cone metaphor shows, we experience both the most contracted and the most expanded forms of our duration.  It follows that intelligence must acquaint itself with matter and adapt to it, but even here, it requires the mind to select the right level of tension to master matter.  Intelligence therefore still 'has its form in matter', even in its most expanded forms but it finds sense in contracting matter so that it can dominate and use it.  It is this combination of form and meaning that intuition attempts to rediscover [that leaves out science because that only considers the contracting aspects of intelligence?].  Bergson is not saying that intelligence can be accounted for on the basis of some 'already presupposed order of matter' nor, for that matter 'of the supposed categories of intelligence' which account for matter.  'There can only be a simultaneous genesis of matter and intelligence' (88).  Intelligence contracts matter, but duration expands it.  They operate in equilibrium, and have an experience of extensity in common.  However, intelligence can also push the notion of expansion symbolically, in ways that 'matter and extensity would never have attained by themselves—that of a pure space'(89). [so space is a symbol, but a 'good' one, not a 'bad' one like Einstein's. Seems like a weasel?].

Chapter five.  Elan vital as movement of differentiation.

We might not have resolved all the apparent contradictions by this move to originary monism.  Now the problem is connecting 'the dualism of differences in kind and the monism of degrees of expansion..  between the two moments of the method' [the two 'beyonds' of experience] (91)  We see the problems with the critique of intensity in Time...  This seems to be a rejection of the very notion of intense quantity, but it is not clear if this just refers to psychic intensity.  It might be acceptable to argue that intensities are never given in experience, but there seems to be a view that intensity gives quality which we then experience, so 'there are numbers enclosed in qualities, intensities included in duration' (92).

If we explore, the world is never based on differences in degree or intensity for Bergson, in composites, but rather on articulations of difference in kind.  We can only see this by decomposing the composites of experience by examining what happened before the turn to the practical.  Then we discover the two tendencies or actual directions at work.  However, the difference in kind is not between the two tendencies or directions, space and duration, because duration 'takes all the differences in kind on itself', while differences of degree appeared in the other direction.  Duration includes all qualitative differences to such an extent that it can even differs 'in relation to itself'.  Space represents the differences in degree, as a schema.  Also, 'Memory is essentially difference, and matter essentially repetition'(92).  This is Bergson's 'moment of neutralized, balanced dualism'.  Since duration is difference in kind, and space or matter is difference in degree 'outside itself and for us', the difference [sic]  between the two shows 'the whole nature of difference'. Although duration is only contracted matter and vice versa, they still differ in that 'duration is like an naturing nature...and matter a natured nature'[that is duration creates nature itself and matter then passively shows the qualities of nature that has been created?].  There also seems to be some hierarchy, with differences in degree as 'the lowest degree of Difference', and differences in kind as the highest.  This offers a single view of nature representing all the different sorts of differences, in a 'moment of monism'.  All degrees are found in a single Time 'which is nature in itself'.  Duality is found in actual tendencies, actual directions, but unity arises after another turn [the philosophical turn?]: only in the virtual do all the degrees and levels coexist, in a single time, a totality.  This totality or whole has parts, 'but only potentially'. Here, we have a clear and notion of the virtual.  The very process of being able to discover the links between dualism and monism, and how dualism is generated shows 'the highest degree of precision' (94).

We can now grasp what is meant by the elan vital, as a process of actualization of a part of the virtual, where the totality begins to divide.  Thus life becomes plant and animal, instinct and intelligence and so on.  We have inserted duration into matter, and now we can explain the differentiation it undergoes when it encounters the obstacles of matter, the sort of material and extension that is involved.  But this is not a differentiation solely produced by external obstacles—it has 'an internal explosive force' which will produce branching and series [and unmaking].  Duration can therefore be called life when it appears in this movement.  It is preserved in the divisions that result, say between animals and plants, because it stems from an original unity, hence the 'halo', the residual element of instinct and intelligence and vice versa.  The virtuality 'persists across its actual divergent lines' (95).

There are still problems in that two types of division might be confused.  First we divide composites into their two divergent lines, the pure notions of matter and duration found mixed in experience.  However, the process of actualization described above involves 'a completely different type of division', of the unity into actualized lines.  Thus pure duration itself constantly divides into the past and the present, and the elan vital provides both relaxation that descends into matter, and tension that ascends into duration.  Both have to be separated to avoid only seeing differences in degree.  However the first kind of division reveals 'a reflexive dualism' which arises from decomposing impure composites, while the second 'is a genetic dualism', (96) resulting from something simple and pure.  The first one starts the method, and the second one ends it.

The virtual is important to manage 'the category of possibility', which Bergson opposed.  The virtual is not the possible, if the possible is seen as something opposed to the real.  Instead, 'the virtual is opposed to the actual'.  This means it 'possesses a reality'[as potential].  We can cite Proust here [?] as defining something '"real without being actual, ideal without being abstract"'.  The possible from another point of view gets close to this, as something which is realized or not.  However, realization is different: the real has to resemble the possible, so that becoming real is just something added to it; and since every possible is not realized, some of them must be limited and be unable to pass into the real.  However, the virtual is actualized rather than realized, following different rules, involving a 'difference or divergence and...creation'(97).  [I wish I had read this stuff earlier].  Some biologists see organic vitality as being limited in some way and thus being realized, but this is not to be confused with actualization, which 'must create its own lines...in positive acts'.  In this sense, the actual does not have to resemble the virtuality which is embodied, but can display difference.  Indeed, difference is primary in the process, including following different lines out of the virtual.  The virtual itself 'has to create its lines of differentiation in order to be  actualized'[and Bergson insists that there is always a pressure from the virtual to become actualized].

By contrast, the possible is 'the false notion, the source of false problems'(98), especially since the notion of the real that resembles the possible already means that all of the real is already 'completely given'[once we have calculated all the possibles?].  This is a form of projecting backwards from a limited grasp of the real, 'a fictitious image' and explaining it in terms of possibilities which already resemble it.  There is a 'sterile double' of abstraction, which will not help us grasp the actual mechanisms [as in the discussion of mechanism and the others in Creative Evolution].  Evolution is creative actualization.  It is not just a matter of realizing possibles, nor the movement of pure actuals.  [So preformism or idealism is countered, nor is variation produced by pure accident—and the latter in the form of 'creep' theories of incremental change are rebuked since the characteristics could only be external for and thus not really relate to each other—'there would be no reason why the small successive variations should link up and add together in the same direction'(99).  The same goes for environmental determinism which again assume 'a purely external causality', and once more provide difficulties in terms of how things are added up to become 'a livable whole']. 

Instead, we must see the vital variation as a matter of internal difference.  Here the tendency to change does not need to be explained externally.  Any variations must not be seen as only ever just associating and adding, but rather producing 'relationships of dissociation or division'.  Instead of showing how one actual species moves to another 'in a homogeneous unilinear series' (100), we have to see the virtual producing heterogeneous terms that become actualized in a 'ramified series'.

The impulse to differentiation is explained better in Matter and Memory.  The virtual as reality can be depicted as 'a gigantic memory, a universal cone in which everything coexists with itself' but with different levels.  Each level has an outstanding or shining point.  Everything exists in a single time.  This virtual multiplicity 'inspired Bergsonism from the start'.  Actualization can be seen as a form of differentiation and development along different lines.  Some will be successive and others simultaneous.  Each one can be seen as actualizing a level of the virtual and embodies its prominent points separately from other lines and levels.  This explains the plentiful divisions of matter itself, where the differences, say between plant and animal, can be seen as actualizing different levels of contraction in the virtual.  Actualization has a dynamic of its own as well [ differenCiation in Difference and Repetition], and the lines that they follow are 'truly creative' as differences emerge that were not found in the virtual.  Actualized lines invent and create, and thus represent the 'physical, vital or psychical'(101) qualities of the virtual at the ontological level.

Nice diagram on 102:

bergson diag

It is possible to establish relations between actuals themselves, like 'gradation or opposition', the differences in degree between, say, animals and us, or a fundamental opposition as in the sense of obstacles.  Here, Bergson seems to flirt with the negative, but the originary unity of the virtual also remains, and opposition of this kind leads to creation not cancellation [nor overcoming?] .

We tend to think of what is actualized in terms of something like an external environment, but we should focus instead on the living being as compared to matter, 'and the capacity to solve problems'[the example might be the construction of the eye in Creative Evolution].  The solutions are never perfect but reflect resources available.  There can also be setbacks, possibly where living beings have themselves 'also stated false problems' (104).  All solutions can be seen as 'a relative set back in relation to the movement that invents it', an alienation of life in the material that risks losing contact with the living impulse.  But there must always be both movement and 'an irreducible pluralism', with living beings and environments tending towards such closure.

Luckily, the whole is never given, despite attempts to render it thus in things like mechanism and finalism.  Both arise with the concept of spatialized time.  That includes seeing time as but a fourth dimension of space, the one that provides all the movement.  But seeing time as independent of space introduces a positivity, 'a "hesitation" of things' and thus creation (105).  There is a whole of duration at the virtual level.  Actualized lines do not make a whole of their own which resembles the virtual.  Finalism gets closest to this, but it makes a mistake if it just sees the relation of the living being to the whole as one of microcosm and macrocosm, two closed totalities.  Instead, finality must be seen as external [rather than some internal organizational principle], that is 'open onto a totality that is itself open'.  Finalism does draw attention to similar actualizations, like the eye in different species, and this is significant with completely divergent lines or organs of sight.  This also privileges resemblance, however, and the 'movements of production do not resemble each other', but are genuinely creative.  Life operates with directions [and initial impulses] but not with goals: the directions are not laid down in advance, but created themselves '"along with" the act that runs through them' (106).

Duration and life are 'in principle', that is at the virtual level, the same as memory and freedom.  However, what happens in practice?  Bergson argues that the evolution of Man represents the greatest success of the elan vital in overcoming obstacles.  Only with us does 'the actual become adequate to the virtual'.  Humans can rediscover all the levels in the virtual Whole, and, through thought, including 'frenzies' and dreams can rediscover what is embodied in different species.  Everything is potentially internal, even durations that are inferior or superior.  Only human beings can express a whole that is itself open, going beyond the plane on which we are located, and finally expressing a 'naturing Nature'(107).

[These characteristics emerge].  First there is the development of cerebral matter, capable of analysis and reaction.  But then memory appears, to actualize itself in the interval between perception and action.  The whole of memory is then accessible, and that grants freedom, as an actualized development.  With us, 'the elan vital was able to use a matter to create an instrument of freedom'(107) a machine to overcome mechanism, to detonate the explosive forces of creation.  The first result was enhanced perception and useful recollections, permitting intelligence devoted towards utilizing matter.  Societies arise from these utilitarian ends, although they persist 'through irrational or even absurd factors'(108).  [The example is the development of mutual obligation, which gathers its own momentum, until we are all obliged to have obligations.  Perhaps these irrationalities act as a virtual version of the instinct, 'to compensate for the partiality of [our] intelligence'.  This is how we attempt to grasp the best bits of both instinct and intelligence, and each creates an a 'ersatz' version of its opposite.  Thus actually having gods is the important thing, not adjusting to do what they actually oblige us to do.  Thus social life 'is immanent to intelligence', but not entirely grounded on it.  Our societies are part of the plan of nature, just as animal versions are.] It looks as if this 'play of intelligence and of society' becomes decisive (109) [Deleuze expressing an interest in the social!  However, there are already seeds of the idealist absurdity of seeing social life as a matter of codes?], and the interval between them as important as the one between perception and action, another fruitful '" hesitation"'.  We might even be able to escape the notion of closed societies by using 'the whole life of the mind' [just as we escape the sensori- motor].  However, it is still egoism against social requirements that characterizes this sort of rebellion of the intelligence, and there are serious pressures, including 'the storytelling function' which strength and social requirements.

But it might be possible to find something creative in the interval between intelligence and society, just as elements of memory intervened between perception and action.  We cannot simply assert that it is intuition, because the way that develops needs to be examined [for social pressures?], and it still retain something of instinct, like that which is 'mobilized in the closed society as such, through the storytelling function'(110) [apparently picking up on Bergson's own discussions].  Instead, Bergson sees emotion as something which is neither intelligence nor instinct, neither individual egoism nor social pressure, although both attempt to manage emotion by represented in particular ways.  Pure emotion has more potential.  It 'precedes all representation, itself generating new ideas', not being tie to objects, but spreading over them.  Music can express love in its essence [Bergson again].  Love is personal but not individual—it is transcendent.  Events like musical performances can introduce us to these feelings.  Emotion is not only creative, but able to communicate its creativity.

Creative emotion is not connected to the individual nor the existing society, but is unable to break the circle between them [with a link to how memory breaks the circle between perception and action].  We can [beef it all up and] argue that an creative emotion is 'precisely a cosmic Memory, that actualizes all the levels of the same time', and thus breaks human beings are way from the 'plane...proper to him'[presumably the sensori-motor].  However, such liberation 'undoubtedly only takes place in privileged souls' (111), but it can create for everyone 'a kind of reminiscence, an excitement'[which reminds me of Adorno of the utopian elements of art, including its memory of them].  It also implies an open society, 'a society of creators, where we pass from one genius to another, through the intermediary of disciples or spectators or hearers' [very aristocratic of course].

This open creativity is what we need to develop, not just contemplation.  'In philosophy itself, there is still too much alleged contemplation'.  It is assumed that intelligence is 'already imbued with emotion' and must not conform entirely to it.  This explains why 'the great souls' are artists and mystics, not philosophers (112).  [Apparently Bergson himself liked Christian mystics, the 'servant of an open and finite god' to express the characteristics of the  elan vital.  If we contact the Whole, 'there is nothing to see or to contemplate'. Emotion motivates the philosopher to decompose composites, to go beyond experience into the virtual.  Mystical intuition provides a more determinate form than philosophical intuition [presumably, still for Bergson, not Deleuze].  Philosophy must be more outside and consider the lines of probability of mysticism.  But for Bergson, mysticism provides the 'envelope or a limit to all the aspects of method'.

So what is the relationship between Duration, Memory, and the Elan Vital?  Duration defines the virtual multiplicity, 'what differs in nature'.  Memory shows the coexistence of 'all the degrees of difference in this multiplicity, in this virtuality', and the elan vital shows actualization of the virtual according to lines of differentiation.  These correspond to the degrees of difference in nature, until human beings provide the self consciousness of the elan vital.

The Afterword is reproduced above in the shorter notes].


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