11 Feb 2010

Determinism in Parallel §91 Bergson Time and Free Will

by Corry Shores
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[The following is summary; my commentary is in brackets.]

Determinism in Parallel

Henri Bergson

Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness
Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience

The Organization of Conscious States; Free Will
De l'organization des états de conscience: la liberté

Part XXX: Physical Determinism

Previously Bergson addressed a determinist theory. Our brain is made of atoms. The move according to necessary and determined laws. If we know all the forces guiding their motion at one moment, we can on that basis predict their locations in the future, just as a computer might predict the outcome of a collisions of billiard balls, knowing the physical properties of the balls and their motions. But even under this view, we consider there to be a physical domain of moving molecules and a mental domain of consciousness. We might be able to say why one molecular movement results from another, but we will not be able to say why one state of consciousness results from some molecular motion.

§91 Physical Determinism, When Assumed to be Universal, Postulates Psychological Determinism

Our own consciousness tells us that we act according to certain motives. Yet we also commonly believe that we have free will in deciding our actions. Determinists however believe that one conscious state is determined by a prior one. [Conscious states associate with one another in this way, so] it is the origin of associationist determinism. People who take-up such a view try to ground it in physical determinism. And in fact, we do find that simple psychic states correlate to certain physiological ones, and also, sensations seem to correspond with molecular movements in the nervous system. So many psychological determinists ground their theory in physical determinism.

Images of the pages summarized above, from the English translation [click to enlarge]:

Images of the pages summarized above, from the original French [click to enlarge]:

Bergson, Henri. Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness. Transl. F.L. Pogson. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 2001. Available online at:http://www.archive.org/details/timeandfreewill00pogsgoog

Bergson, Henri. Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience. Originally published, Paris: Les Presses universitaires de France, 1888. Available online at:http://www.archive.org/details/essaisurlesdonn00berguoft

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