21 Jul 2009

How to Recognizing Flawed Theories of Recognition. §47, Matter and Memory. Bergson

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How to Recognizing Flawed Theories of Recognition

Henri Bergson

Matter and Memory

Matière et mémoire

Chapter II

Of the Recognition of Images. Memory and the Brain

Chapitre II

De la reconnaissance des images la mémoire et le cerveau

§47 What then is recognition?

II. Of recognition in general: memory-images and movements

We very often have this experience: we see something now, like our friend’s face in the distance, and we get the feeling of ‘having seen it before.’ This is recognition.

Bergson addresses first one theory of recognition, which he will dispute. According to this view, the first time we see something, we merely perceive it. But when we see it the next time, we automatically recall the first instance’s circumstances. In this sense, we recognize something when we associate a present perception with the images from a connected event. (105b.c)

Bergson objects. This theory supposes that our minds connect a past image to a present one. But in order to make that connection, we need first to have that past image already present to mind. Otherwise, we would not be able to presently connect it with our current perception. Nor can we say that the present and the past images are the same. For, they are numerically distinct, and also, the present one is a perception, while the past one is a memory. (106a)

Images from the English translation [click to enlarge]

Images from the original French [click to enlarge]

Bergson, Henri. Matière et mémoire: Essai sur la relation du corps à l'esprit. Ed. Félix Alcan. Paris: Ancienne Librairie Germer Bailliere et Cie, 1903. Available online at:http://www.archive.org/details/matireetmmoiree01berggoog

Bergson, Henri. Matter and Memory. Transl. Nancy Margaret Paul & W. Scott Palmer. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 2004; originally published by George Allen & Co., Ltd., London, 1912. Available online at:http://www.archive.org/details/mattermemory00berg

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