19 Feb 2010

Deliberate Freedom TF§98 Illustration from Deliberation. Bergson. Time and Free Will

by Corry Shores
[Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

[Central Entry Directory]
[Bergson, Entry Directory]
[Bergson Time and Free Will, Entry Directory]

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

Deliberate Freedom

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 we examined hypnosis. While under a trance, the hypnotist suggests we perform some action. Later we will perform it. Up till then, we undergo a series of mental states. The determinist would say that this sequence was causally responsible for the future action. Bergson says instead that the future action was bound to happen, and so our minds chose the right sequence leading up to it, as if by attraction. So the future event is not the effect of the prior states, but rather the cause.

§98 Illustration from Deliberation

Sometimes before making a decision, we carefully deliberate and weigh our options. But all the while, in the back of our minds, we seem to hear a voice that says "Why this deliberation? You know the result and you are quite certain of what you are going to do" (158a). [Although it might seem that this voice indicates a determination, it is really evidence of our free will acting independently of our mind's deliberation. We undergo the series of considerations so that we have explicit cause for our decision. Hence,] we deliberate for the purpose of "safe-guarding the principle of mechanism and of conforming to the laws of the association of ideas" (158a). Really our will acts independently of the series of considerations. It is like a coup d'état to our mind. So as a defensive measure, our mind insists on deliberating so that the final action will seem to be mentally legitimized.

We might wonder if the will obeys some guiding reasoning. Bergson will not here elaborate in detail. He will merely say that it is difficult to claim our acts are absolutely determined by their motives and that our conscious states are absolutely determined by one another.

So while it might appear that the deliberative mental states are the causes for the final decision, really that resulting act is the attracting force which causes the intermediary mental states to come about.

Now Bergson will explore whether associationism involves a defective conception of the self and of the multiplicity of conscious states. (158d)

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

No comments:

Post a Comment