You are affected with joy. Your power of acting is increased, this doesn't mean that you possess it yet, but the fact that you are affected with joy signifies and indicates that the body or soul which affects you thus affects you in a relation which is combined with your own and which is combined with your own, and that goes for the formula of love and the digestive formula.
In an affect of joy, therefore, the body which affects you is indicated as combining its relation with your own and not as its relation decomposing your own. At that point, something induces you to form a notion of what is common to the body which affects you and to your own body, to the soul which affects you and to your own soul. In this sense joy makes one intelligent.
There we feel that it's a curious thing, because, geometrical method or not, we grant him everything, he can demonstrate it; but there is an obvious appeal to a kind of lived experience. There's an obvious appeal to way of perceiving, and even more, to a way of living. It's necessary to already have such a hatred of sad passions, the list of sad passions in Spinoza is infinite, he goes so far as to say that every idea of reward envelopes a sad passion, every idea of security envelopes a sad passion, every idea of pride, guilt. It's one of the most marvelous moments in the Ethics.
The affects of joy are like a springboard, they make us pass through something that we would never have been able to pass if there had only been sadnesses. He solicits us to form the idea of what is common to the affecting body and the affected body. This can fail, but it can also succeed and I become intelligent. Someone who becomes good in Latin at the same time that he becomes a lover What's it connected to?
How does someone make progress? One never makes progress on a homogeneous line, something here makes us make progress down there, as if a small joy here had released a trigger. Anew, the necessity of a map: what happened there that unblocked this here? A small joy precipitates us into a world of concrete ideas which sweeps out the sad affects or which is in the process of struggling, all of this makes up part of the continuous variation. But at the same time, this joy propels us somehow beyond the continuous variation, it makes us acquire at least the potentiality of a common notion.
It's necessary to conceive this very concretely, these are quite local things. If you succeed in forming a common notion, at whatever point you yourself have a relation with such a person or such an animal, you say: I've finally understood something, I am less stupid than yesterday. You formed it quite locally, it didn't give you all the common notions.
Spinoza doesn't think at all like a rationalist, among the rationalists there is the world of reason and there are the ideas. If you have one, obviously you have all of them: you are reasonable. Spinoza thinks that being reasonable, or being wise, is a problem of becoming, which changes in a singular fashion the contents of the concept of reason. It's necessary to know the encounters which agree with you. Relatively ugly: what's good for flies is not inevitably good for you There is no longer any abstract notion, there isn't any formula which is good for man in general.
What counts is what your power is for you. Lawrence said a directly Spinozist thing: an intensity which exceeds your power of being affected is bad posthumous writings. It's inevitable: a blue that is too intense for my eyes will not make me say it's beautiful, it will perhaps be beautiful for someone else. There's good for all, you tell me Yes, because the powers of being affected are combined.
To assume that there was a power of being affected which defined the power of being affected of the whole universe is quite possible since all relations are combined to infinity, but not in just any order. My relation doesn't combine with that of arsenic, but what can this do? Obviously it does a lot to me, but at this moment the parts of my body enter again into a new relation which is combined with that of the arsenic. It's necessary to know in what order the relations are combined. But if we knew in what order the relations of the whole universe are combined, we could define a power of being affected of the whole universe, which would be the cosmos, the world insofar as it's a body or a soul.
At this moment the whole world is only one single body following the order of relations which are combined. At this moment you have, to speak precisely, a universal power of being affected: God, who is the whole universe insofar as He is its cause, has by nature a universal power of being affected. It's useless to say that he's in the process of using the idea of God in a strange manner.
You undergo a joy, you feel that this joy concerns you, that it concerns something important regarding your principal relations, your characteristic relations. Here then it must serve you as a springboard, you form the notion-idea: in what do the body which affects me and my own body agree? In what do the soul which affects me and my own soul agree, from the point of view of the composition of their relations, and no longer from the point of view of their chance encounters.
You do the opposite operation from what is generally done. Generally people tend to summarize their unhappinesses, this is where neurosis or depression begins, when we set out to figure the totals; oh shit, there's this and there's that. Spinoza proposes the opposite: instead of summarizing of our sadnesses, taking a local point of departure on a joy on the condition that we feel that it truly concerns us. On that point one forms the common notion, on that point one tries to win locally, to open up this joy.
It's the labor of life. One tries to diminish the respective share of sadnesses in relation to the respective share of a joy, and one attempts the following tremendous coup: one is sufficiently assured of common notions which refer to relations of agreement between such and such body and my own, one will attempt then to apply the same method to sadness, but one cannot do it on the basis of sadness, that is to say one will attempt to form common notions by which one will arrive at a comprehension of the vital manner in which such and such body disagrees and no longer agrees.
That becomes, no longer a continuous variation, that becomes a bell curve. You leave joyful passions, the increase in the power of acting; you make use of them to form common notions of a first type, the notion of what there was in common between the body which affected me with joy and my own body, you open up to a maximum your living common notions and you descend once again toward sadness, this time with common notions that you form in order to comprehend in what way such a body disagrees with your own, such a soul disagrees with your own. At this moment you can already say that you are within the adequate idea since, in effect, you have passed into the knowledge of causes.
You can already say that you are within philosophy. One single thing counts, the way of living. One single thing counts, the meditation on life, and far from being a meditation on death it's rather the operation which consists in making death only finally affect the proportion that is relatively the smallest in me, that is, living it as a bad encounter. It's simply well known that, to the extent that a body is tired, the probabilities of bad encounters increase. It's a common notion, a common notion of disagreement. As long as I'm young, death is truly something which comes from outside, it's truly an extrinsic accident, except in the case of an internal malady.
There is no common notion, on the other hand it's true that when a body ages, its power of acting diminishes: I can no longer do what I could still do yesterday; this, this fascinates me in aging, this kind of diminution of the power of acting. What is a clown, vitally speaking? It's precisely the type that does not accept aging, he doesn't know how to age quickly enough.
It's not necessary to age too quickly because there's also another way of being a clown: acting the old man. The more one ages the less one wants to have bad encounters, but when one is young one leaps into the risk of the bad encounter. The type which, to the extent that his power of acting diminishes as a function of aging, his power of being affected varies, doesn't do it, continues to act the young man, is fascinating.
It's very sad. There's a fascinating passage in one of Fitzgerald's novels the water-ski episode [in Tender is the Night] , there are ten pages of total beauty on not knowing how to age You know the spectacles which are not uncomfortable for the spectators themselves. Knowing how to age is arriving at the moment when the common notions must make you comprehend in what way things and other bodies disagree with your own. Then inevitably it will be necessary to find a new grace which will be that of your age, above all not clinging to youth.
It's a kind of wisdom. Leibniz came to him to steal bits of manuscript in order to say afterward that they were his own. There are very curious stories about this, he was a dangerous man, Leibniz. I end by saying that at this second level, one attains the notion-idea where relations are combined, and once again this is not abstract since I've tried to say that it's an extraordinarily vital enterprise. One has left the passions behind. One has acquired formal possession of the power of acting.
The formation of notions, which are not abstract ideas, which are literally rules of life, gives me possession of the power of acting. The common notions are the second kind of knowledge [connaissance]. In order to understand the third it's necessary already to understand the second. Only Spinoza has entered into the third kind. Above the common notions You've noticed that while the common notions are not abstract, they are collective, they always refer to a multiplicity, but they're no less individual for that.
They are the ways in which such and such bodies agree, at the limit they are the ways in which all bodies agree, but at that moment it's the whole world which is an individuality. Thus the common notions are always individual. Beyond even the compositions of relations, beyond the internal agreements which define the common notions, there are the singular essences. What's the difference? It would be necessary to say that, at the limit, the relation and relations which characterize me express my singular essence, but nevertheless it's not the same thing. Because the relation which characterizes me The common notions or the relations which characterize me still concern the extensive parts of my body.
My body is composed of an infinity of parts extended to the infinite, and these parts enter into such and such relations which correspond to my essence but are not confused with my essence, for the relations which characterize me are still rules under which are associated, in movement and at rest, the extended parts of my body. Whereas the singular essence is a degree of power [puissance], that is to say these are my thresholds of intensity. Between the lowest and the highest, between my birth and my death, these are my intensive thresholds.
So that, when I have knowledge [connaissance] of notions, that is to say of relations of movement and rest which regulate the agreement or disagreement of bodies from the point of view of their extended parts, from the point of view of their extension, I don't yet have full possession of my essence to the extent that it is intensity. And God, what's that? When Spinoza defines God as absolutely infinite power [puissance], he expresses himself well. All the terms that he explicitly employs: degree, which in Latin is gradus, refers to a long tradition in medieval philosophy. Gradus is the intensive quantity, in opposition to or differing from the extensive parts.
Thus it would be necessary to conceive the singular essence of each one as this kind of intensity, or limit of intensity. It's singular because, whether it be our community of genera or species, we are all human for example, yet none of us has the same threshold. It's quite curious to what extent philosophy, up to the end of the 17th century, ultimately speaks to us, all the time, of God.
And after all, Spinoza, excommunicated Jew, is not the last to speak to us of God. Why is philosophy so compromised with God? And right up to the revolutionary coup of the 18th century philosophers. Is it a dishonest compromise [compromission] or something a little purer? We could say that thought, until the end of the 17th century, must take considerable account of the demands of the Church, thus it's clearly forced to take many religious themes into account.
But one feels quite strongly that this is much too easy; we could just as well say that, until this era, thought's lot is somewhat linked to that of a religious feeling. I'm going back to an analogy with painting because it's true that painting is full of images of God. My question is: is it sufficient to say that this is an inevitable constraint in this era? There are two possible answers. The first is yes, this is an inevitable constraint of the era which refers to the conditions of art in this era. Or to say, a bit more positively, that it's because there's a religious feeling from which the painter, and even more painting, do not escape.
The philosopher and philosophy don't escape either. Is this sufficient? Could we not make up another hypothesis, namely that painting in this era has so much need of God that the divine, far from being a constraint for the painter, is the site of his maximum emancipation. In other words, with God, he can do anything whatsoever, he can do what he couldn't do with humans, with creatures. So much so that God is directly invested by painting, by a kind of flow of painting, and at this level painting will find a kind of freedom for itself that it would never have found otherwise.
At the limit, the most pious painter and the one who does painting and who, in a certain way, is the most impious, are not opposed to each other because the way painting invests the divine is a way which is nothing but pictorial, where the painter finds nothing but the conditions of his radical emancipation. Then it's true that, at a certain level, constraints operated on them, and at another level the artist is the one who? Bergson said this about the living thing [vivant], he said that the living thing is what turns obstacles into means?
It's true that there are constraints from the Church which operate on the painter, but there is a transformation of constraints into means of creation. They make use of God in order to achieve a liberation of forms, to push the forms to the point where the forms have nothing to do with an illustration. They embark upon a kind of Sabbath, a very pure dance, the lines and colors lose all necessity to be verisimilar [vraisemblables], to be exact, to resemble something. It's the great enfranchisement of lines and colors which is done thanks to this outward show [apparence]: the subordination of painting to the demands of Christianity.
Another example The Old Testament sets up for them a kind of liberation of movements, a liberation of forms, lines and colors. So much so that, in a sense, atheism has never been external to religion: atheism is the artistic power [puissance] at work on [travaille] religion. With God, everything is permitted. I have the distinct feeling that for philosophy it's been exactly the same thing, and if philosophers have spoken to us so much of God?
It wasn't an incredulous jesting, but a joy arising from the labor they were involved in. Just as I said that God and Christ offered an extraordinary opportunity for painting to free lines, colors and movements from the constraints of resemblance, so God and the theme of God offered the irreplacable opportunity for philosophy to free the object of creation in philosophy? The concept is freed at the level of God because it no longer has the task of representing something; at that moment it becomes the sign of a presence.
To speak by analogy, it takes on lines, colors, movements that it would never have had without this detour through God. It's true that philosophers are subject to the constraints of theology, but in conditions such that they make this constraint into a means of fantastic creation, that is they will extract from it [lui arracher] a liberation of the concept without anyone even questioning it.
Except in the case where a philosopher goes too fast or too far. Is this perhaps the case with Spinoza? From the start, Spinoza was placed in conditions in which what he said to us no longer had anything to represent. That's why what Spinoza is going to name God, in the first book of The Ethics, is going to be the strangest thing in the world. It's going to be the concept insofar as it brings together the set [ensemble] of all these possibilities Via the philosophical concept of God is made?
What painters and philosophers subjected God to represents either painting as passion or philosophy as passion. Painters subjected the body of Christ to a new passion: they condense [ramassent] him, they make him contract Perspective is freed from every constraint to represent whatever it may be, and it's the same thing for philosophers. I take the example of Leibniz. Leibniz begins the creation of the world anew. He asks how it is that God creates the world.
He goes back to the classical problem: what is the role of God's understanding and God's will in the creation of the world. Let's suppose that Leibniz tells us the following: God has an understanding, an infinite understanding of course. It does not resemble ours.
It would not have only a single meaning [sens] since the infinite understanding is absolutely not the same thing as our own understanding, which is a finite understanding. What happens in the infinite understanding? Before God creates the world, there was indeed an understanding, but there wasn't anything else, there was no world. No, says Leibniz, but there are possibles. There are possibles in God's understanding, and all these possibles tend toward existence.
That's why essence, for Leibniz, is a tendency to exist, a possibility which tends toward existence. All these possibles have weight according to their quantity of perfection. God's understanding becomes like a kind of envelope in which all the possibles descend and collide. All want to pass into existence. But Leibniz tells us that this is not possible, all cannot pass into existence.
Because each one on its own could pass into existence, but not all of them form compatible combinations. There are incompatibilities from the point of view of existence. One such possible cannot be compossible with another such possible. There's the second stage: he is in the process of creating a logical relation of a completely new type: there are not only possibilities, there are also problems of compossibility.
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Is a possible compossible with another such possible? So then which set of possibles will pass into existence? Only that set of possibles that, on its own, has the greatest quantity of perfection will pass into existence. It's God's will that chooses the best of all possible worlds. It's an extraordinary descent for the creation of the world, and, thanks to this descent, Leibniz creates all sorts of concepts.
We cannot even say of these concepts that they are representational since they precede the things to be represented. And Leibniz issues [lance] his famous metaphor: God creates the world like we play chess, it involves choosing the best combination. And the calculus of chess will dominate the Leibnizian vision of the divine understanding.
It's an extraordinary creation of concepts that finds in the theme of God the very condition of its freedom and its liberation. Once again, just as the painter had to make use of God so that lines, colors and movements would no longer be obliged to represent some existing thing, so the philosopher sets up God, in this era, so that concepts would no longer be obliged to represent some prior thing, something given and ready-made. It's not a matter of asking oneself what a concept represents.
It's necessary to ask oneself what its place is in a set of other concepts. In the majority of great philosophers, the concepts they create are inseparable, and are taken in veritable sequences. And if you don't understand the sequence of which a concept is part, you cannot understand the concept. If it's true that the constituent unity of cinema is the sequence, I believe that, all things being equal, we could also say it about the concept and about philosophy.
At the level of the problem of Being and the One, it's true that philosophers in their endeavor at conceptual creation about the relations of Being and the One are going to re-establish a sequence. In my view, the first great sequences in philosophy, at the level of concepts, are those Plato constructs in the second part of the Parmenides. There are actually two sequences. The second part of the Parmenides is made up of seven hypotheses. These seven hypotheses are divided into two groups: three hypotheses at first, four hypotheses following.
These are two sequences. First time [temps]: let us assume that the One is superior to Being, the One is above Being. Second time: the One is equal to Being. Third time: the One is inferior to Being, and derived from Being. You never say that a philosopher contradicts himself; you will ask such-and-such page, in what sequence to put it, at what level of the sequence?
And it's obvious that the One about which Plato speaks to us is not the same according to whether it's situated at the level of the first, the second or the third hypothesis. One of Plato's disciples, Plotinus, speaks to us at a certain level of the One as the radical origin of Being. Here, Being comes out of [sort de] the One. The One makes Being, therefore it is not, it is superior to Being.
This will be the language of pure emanation: the One emanates Being. That is to say the One does not come out of itself in order to produce Being, because if it came out of itself it would become Two, but Being comes out of the One. This is the very formula of the emanative cause. But when we establish ourselves at the level of Being, this same Plotinus will speak to us in splendid and lyrical terms of the Being that contains all beings, the Being that comprehends all beings.
And he issues a whole series of formulae which will have very great importance for the whole philosophy of the Renaissance. He will say Being complicates all beings. It's an admirable formula. Why does Being complicate all beings? Because each being explicates Being. There will be a linguistic doublet here: complicate, explicate. Each thing explicates Being, but Being complicates all things, that is, comprehends them in itself. But these pages of Plotinus are no longer about emanation. You tell yourself that the sequence has evolved: he's in the process of speaking to us of an immanent cause.
And indeed, Being behaves like an immanent cause in relation to beings, but at the same time the One behaves in relation to Being like an emanative cause. And if we descend even further, we will see in Plotinus, who nevertheless is not Christian, something which closely resembles a creative cause. In a certain way, if you don't take sequences into account, you will no longer know exactly what he's talking to us about. Unless there were philosophers who destroy sequences because they want to make something else. A conceptual sequence would be the equivalent of shades [nuances] in painting.
A concept changes tone or, at the limit, a concept changes timbre. It would have something like timbres, tonalities. Until Spinoza philosophy proceeded essentially by way of sequences. And on this road the shades concerning causality were very important. Is original causality or the first cause emanative, immanent, creative or something else again? Because this was undoubtedly the most dangerous theme. Treating God as an emanative cause can fit because there is still the distinction between cause and effect.
But as immanent cause, such that we no longer know very well how to distinguish cause and effect, that is to say treating God and the creature the same, that becomes much more difficult. Immanence was above all danger. So much so that the idea of an immanent cause appears constantly in the history of philosophy, but as [something] held in check, kept at such-and-such a level of the sequence, not having value, and faced with being corrected by other moments of the sequence and the accusation of immanentism was, for every story of heresies, the fundamental accusation: you confuse God and the creature.
That's the fatal accusation. Therefore the immanent cause was constantly there, but it didn't manage to gain a status [statut]. It had only a small place in the sequence of concepts. Spinoza arrives. He was preceded no doubt by all those who had been more or less audacious concerning the immanent cause, that is to say this cause that's quite bizarre in that, not only does it remain in itself in order to produce, but what it produces remains in it.
God is in the world, the world is in God. In The Ethics, I think The Ethics is constructed upon an initial great proposition that could be called the speculative or theoretical proposition. Therefore one single substance having all attributes and whose products are the modes, the ways of being. Hence if these are the manners of being of the substance having all attributes, these modes exist in the attributes of the substance. They are contained [pris] in the attributes. All the consequences immediately appear.
There isn't any hierarchy in the attributes of God, of substance. If substance possesses equally all attributes, there is no hierarchy among the attributes, one is not worth more than another. In other words, if thought is an attribute of God and if extension is an attribute of God or of substance, between thought and extension there won't be any hierarchy.
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All the attributes will have the same value from the moment that they are attributes of substance. We are still in the abstract. This is the speculative figure of immanence. I draw several conclusions from this. This is what Spinoza will call God. He calls it God because it's absolutely infinite. What does it represent? It's quite curious.
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Can one live like that? I draw two consequences from this. First consequence: he's the one who dares to do what many had wanted to do, namely to free the immanent cause completely of all subordination to other processes of causality. There is only one cause, and it's immanent.
And this influences practice. Spinoza didn't entitle his book Ontology, he's too shrewd for that, he entitles it Ethics. Which is a way of saying that, whatever the importance of my speculative propositions may be, you can only judge them at the level of the ethics that they envelope or imply [impliquer]. He completely frees the immanent cause, with which Jews, Christians, heretics had so often played around up until then, but he does it within very precise sequences of concepts.
Spinoza extracts it from a whole sequence and carries out a forced takeover [coup de force] at the level of concepts. There is no longer a sequence. As a result of his extraction [extraire] of immanent cauality from the sequence of great causes, first causes, as a result of his flattening of everything onto an absolutely infinite substance that comprehends all things as its modes, that possesses all attributes and comprehends all things as its modes, he substituted a veritable plane of immanence for the sequence.
It's an extraordinary conceptual revolution: in Spinoza everything happens as if on a fixed plane. An extraordinary fixed plane which is not going to be a plane of immobility at all since all things are going to move? He invents a fixed plane. Spinoza's speculative proposition is this: extract the concept from the state of variations of sequences and project everything onto a fixed plane which is one of immanence. This implies an extraordinary technique. It's also a certain mode of life, living in a fixed plane. I no longer live according to variable sequences.
But then, what would living on a fixed plane be? Spinoza is one who polishes glasses, who abandoned everything, his heritage, his religion, every social success. He does nothing and before he had written anything whatsoever, he is insulted, he is denounced. Spinoza is the atheist, the abominable. He practically can't publish.
He writes letters. He didn't want to be a prof. In the Political Treatise he imagines that the teaching profession would be a volunteer activity, and further, that it would be necessary to pay in order to teach. Professors would teach at the risk of their fortunes and their reputations. That would be a true public prof. Spinoza was involved with a large study group, he sends them The Ethics as he writes it, and they explicate for themselves Spinoza's texts, and they write to Spinoza, who replies. These are very intelligent people. This correspondence is essential. He has his little network.
He gets out of trouble thanks to the protection of the De Witt brothers, since he is denounced from all sides. It's as if he invented the fixed plane at the level of concepts. In my view it's the most fundamental attempt to give a status to the univocity of being, an absolutely univocal being. Univocal being is precisely what Spinoza defines as being the substance having all attributes equal, having all things as modes. The absolutely infinite substance is Being as Being, the attributes all equal to one another are the essence of being, and here you have this kind of plane on which everything falls back and where everything is inscribed.
Never has a philosopher been treated by his readers the way Spinoza has been, thank God. Spinoza was one of the essential authors for German Romanticism, for example. But even these most educated authors tell us a very curious thing. They say at once that The Ethics is the work that presents us with the most systematic totality, it's system pushed to the absolute, it's univocal being, being that is said only in a single sense.
It's the extreme point of the system. It's the most absolute totality. And at the same time, when one reads The Ethics, one always gets the feeling that one will never reach a comprehension of the whole [ensemble]. The whole escapes us. We are not quick enough to keep everything together. There is a very beautiful page where Goethe says that he re-read the same thing ten times and he always fails to comprehend the whole, and every time that I read it I comprehend another piece [bout].
He's a philosopher who has a conceptual apparatus that's among the most systematic in all philosophy. And nevertheless, we always get the impression, we readers, that the whole escapes us and we are reduced to being struck by such and such bit. We are really struck by such and such part. At another level he's the philosopher who pushes the system of concepts the furthest, therefore one who demands a very extensive philosophical education [culture].
The start of The Ethics begins with definitions: of substance, of essence, etc This all refers to Scholasticism, and at the same time there is no other philosopher who can so easily be read without knowing anything at all. And the two [approaches] must be upheld. Go on, then, and comprehend this mystery. Delbos says of Spinoza that he is a great wind that carries us away. That goes well with my story of the fixed plane. And the miserable, the poor sorts who read Spinoza compare it to the gusts that take us away.
How do we reconcile the fact that there was an illiterate reading and an illiterate comprehension of Spinoza with this other fact, that Spinoza is one of the philosophers who, once again, composes the most meticulous conceptual apparatus in the world? There's a success at the level of language.
The Ethics is a book that Spinoza considers as finished. He does not publish his book because he know that if he publishes it, he'll find himself in prison. Everyone falls upon him, he no longer has a protector. Things go very badly for him. He gives up on publication and, in a sense, this doesn't matter since the study group already had the text. Leibniz knew the text.
What is this text made of. It begins with The Ethics demonstrated in a geometric manner. It's the use of the geometric method. Many authors had already employed this method, but generally on a sequence in which a philosophical proposition is demonstrated in the manner of a geometrical proposition, a theorem.
Spinoza extracts this from the state of a moment in a sequence and he will make it the complete method of exposition of The Ethics. With the result that The Ethics is divided into five books. That's the great wind, it forms a kind of continuous layer [nappe]. Geometric exposition is no longer the expression of a moment in a sequence at all, it can be completely extricated since the geometric method is going to be the process which consists in filling in the fixed plane of absolutely infinite substance. Thus a great calm wind. The problems of terminology, of the invention of words.
In order to designate a new concept, sometimes you will take a very common word; it will be even there the best fit. Only implicitly will this very common word take a completely new sense. Sometimes you will take a very special sense of a common word, and you will build up this sense, and sometimes you will need a new word. It is sometimes, sometimes, sometimes. Sometimes it is very well to use only common words, sometimes it is necessary to mark the stroke, the moment of the creation of concepts, by an unusual word.
I spoke to you the last time of this great philosopher who was important during the Renaissance, Nicolas of Cusa. Nicolas of Cusa had to create a kind of portmanteau word, he had contaminated two Latin words. It is a good verbal creation. Possest: it doesn't exist as a word, it is an inexistent word, he created it, this word, the Possest. It is a very pretty word, it is a pretty word for Latin. It is an awful barbarism, this word is awful. But philosophically is beautiful, it is a success. When one creates a word it is necessary that [xxxx xxxx] there are disasters, nothing is determined in advance.
Posse and est, he contaminates the two and it gives Possest. And what is the Possest? The Possest is precisely the identity of the power puissance and of the act by which I define [xxxx xxxx]. So I would not define something by its essence, what it is, I would define it by this barbaric definition, its Possest : what it can do. Literally: what it can actually do. It means that things are powers puissances. It is not only that they have power, it is that they come down to the power that they have, as much in action as in passion.
You will have, thanks to this very special quantity, but you understand the problem that this causes, power is a quantity, okay, but it is not a quantity like length. Is it a quantity like force? Does this mean that the strongest wins? Very doubtful. First of all, it will be necessary to define the quantities that we call forces.
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They are not quantities as we know them, they are not quantities whose status is simple. I know that they are not qualities, that I know. Power puissance is not a quality, but neither are they so-called extensive quantities. Then even if they are intensive quantities, it is a very special quantitative scale, an intensive scale. This would mean: things have more or less intensity, it would be the intensity of the thing which would be, which would replace its essence, which would define the thing in itself, it would be its intensity.
You understand perhaps the link to Ontology. The more intense a thing is, [the] more precisely is that intensity its relation to being: the intensity of the thing is its relation with being. Can we say all this? It is going to occupy us for a long time.
Before getting into it, you see which misunderstanding we are trying to avoid. Question: on intensity and the thing inaudible. Gilles: The question is not what we believe, the question is how we try to get by in this world of powers. It is not that. We are here once again to evaluate how it could be important to undertake a discourse on power puissance? Given the misunderstandings that we are trying to avoid in every way, it is to understand this as if Spinoza told us, and Nietzsche afterwards, what things will is power.
Firstly it is a triviality, secondly it is a thing which is evidently false, thirdly this is surely not what Spinoza means. It is not what Spinoza means because it is stupid and Spinoza does not want to say silly things. It is not: Ha! No it is not that! We know that it is not that since it doesn't mean that power puissance is the object of the will.
So we know this at least, it is consoling. But I would like to insist, once again I appeal to your feeling of the evaluation of importance, in what the philosophers have said to us. I would like to try to develop why this history is very very important, this conversion where things? I am far from knowing what this quantifiable power is, but I will just try to arrive there by passing via this kind of dreaming of what is important, practically. Practically, does that change something? Yes, you must already feel that practically it changes a lot of things.
I don't regard, it is not really the same manner of being in the world. But I would like to try to show it by, precisely, a precise moment in the history of the thought. Classical Natural Right There I open a parenthesis, but always in this vision: what is this history of power puissance and of defining things by power puissance. It is a history which concerns natural right, and this history concerning natural right, it is necessary that you understand this: today this appears to us at first glance very out of date, as much juridically as politically.
The theories of natural right, in the manuals of law, or in the manuals of sociology, we always see a chapter on natural right, and we treat it as a theory which lasted until Rousseau, including Rousseau, up until the 18th century, but today no one is interested in it, in the problem of natural right. This is not false, but at the same time I would like you to feel that it was too scholarly a vision, it is terrible we bypass things and that is why people are really battered theoretically, we bypass everything that is important in an historic question.
I am saying this, and you are going to see why I am saying it now and how it is really at the heart of the stage where I am. I am saying: for a very long time there has been a theory of natural right, which consists of what? Finally it seems important to me historically because it was the compilation of most of the traditions of Antiquity and the point of confrontation of Christianity with the traditions of Antiquity. In this respect there are two important names in relation to the classical conception of natural right: on the one hand Cicero who recorded in antiquity all the traditions on the subject: Platonic, Aristotelian and Stoic.
He gives a kind of presentation of natural right in Antiquity which is going to have an extreme importance. It is in Cicero that the Christian philosophers, the Christian jurists, will take more than other authors , it is above all in Cicero that this kind of adaptation to Christianity of natural right, notably in Saint Thomas, will be made. So there we will have a kind of historical lineage that I am going to call for convenience, so that you will find it again there, the lineage of classical natural right, Antiquity-Christianity.
Now, what do they call natural right? On the whole, I would say that, in this whole conception, natural right, that which constitutes natural right is that which conforms to the essence. I would almost say that there are several propositions, in this classical theory of natural right. Four basic propositions which are the basis of this conception of classical natural right.
First proposition: a thing is defined by its essence. Natural right is therefore that which conforms to the essence of something. The essence of man is: reasonable animal. This has defined his natural right. The law of nature intervenes here. There is the first proposition; thus preference is given to the essences. Second proposition, in this classical theory: from now on, you understand, natural right can not refer, and it is striking that for most of the authors of Antiquity it is very much like this, natural right doesn't refer to a state which would be supposed to precede society.
The state of nature is not a pre-social state, certainly not, it could not be. The state of nature is the state that conforms to the essence in a good society. What do we call a good society? We will call a good society, a society where man can realise his essence. So the state of nature is not before the social state, the state of nature it is the state that conforms to the essence in the best possible society, that is the most apt to realise the essence.
There is the second proposition of classical natural right. Third proposition of classical natural right, they emanate from it: what is first is duty: we have rights only insofar as we have duties. It is very politically practical, all this. It is duties. Indeed, what is duty? Here, there is a term, there is a concept of Cicero in Latin, which is very difficult to translate and which indicates this idea of functional duty, the duties of function. And why is it this that is first, duty in existence? It is because duty is precisely the conditions under which I can best realise the essence, i.
Fourth proposition: there follows a practical rule which will have a great political importance. We could summarize it under the title: the competence of the sage. What is the sage? It is somebody who is singularly competent in the research that relates to the essence, and all that follows from it. The sage is the one who knows what the essence is. Thus there is a principle of competence of the sage because it is the sage who tells us what our essence is, what is the best society, i. All this is the competence of the sage.
And to the question: to what does the classical sage lay claim? One must reply that the classical sage claims to determine what the essence is, and consequently all kinds of practical tasks follow from this. Hence the political claims of the sage. Therefore, if I summarize this classical conception of natural right, as a result you understand why Christianity will be very interested by this ancient conception of natural right. It will integrate it into what it will call natural theology, making it one of its fundamental parts. The four propositions are immediately reconciled with Christianity.
First proposition: things are defined and define their rights according to their essence. Second proposition: the law of nature is not pre-social, it is in the best possible society. It is life in conformity with the essence in the best possible society. Third proposition: what is first are duties over rights, because duties are the conditions under which you realise the essence. Fourth proposition: consequently, there is the competence of somebody superior, whether this is the church, the prince or the sage.
There is a knowledge savoir of the essences. Thus the man who knows the essences will be capable of telling us at the same time how to conduct ourselves in life. Conducting oneself in life will be answerable to a knowledge, in the name of which I could say if it is good or bad. There will be thus a man of good, in whatever way it is determined, as man of God or man of wisdom, who will have a competence. Remember these four propositions well. Imagine a kind of thunder clap, a guy arrives and says: no, no, no, and in a sense it is the very opposite.
Only the spirit of contradiction never works. It is necessary to have reasons, even secret ones, it is necessary to have the most important reasons in order to reverse a theory. One day somebody comes along who is going to make a scandal in the domain of thought. It is Hobbes. He had a very bad reputation. Spinoza read him a lot.
Natural Right according to Hobbes And here is what Hobbes tells us: first proposition of Hobbes: it is not that. He says that things are not defined by an essence, they are defined by a power puissance. Thus natural right is not what is in conformity with the essence of the thing, it is everything that the thing can do. And in the right of something, animal or man, everything that it can do. And in its right everything that it can do. It is at this time that the great propositions of the type, but the large fish eat the small ones start.
It is its right of nature. You come across a proposition of this type, you see that it is signed Hobbes, it is in natural right that large fish eat small ones. You risk bypassing it, but you can understand nothing if you say: Ah Good! Everything that you can do is permitted, this is natural right. It is a simple idea, but it is an idea that is overwhelming. From where is it coming? He calls that natural right.
Everyone from time immemorial knew that large fish ate small ones, never has anybody called that natural right, Why? Because we reserved the word natural right for a completely different thing: moral action that conforms to the essence. Hobbes comes along and says: natural right equals power, therefore what you can do is your natural right. In my natural right is everything that I can do.
Second proposition: consequently, the state of nature is distinguished from the social state, and theoretically precedes it. Hobbes hastens to say it: in the social state, there are prohibitions, there are defenses, there are things that I can do but it is defended. That means that it is not natural right, it is social right. It is in your natural right to kill your neighbor, but it is not in your social right. In other words, the natural right which is identical to power puissance is necessarily, and refers to, a state which is not the social state.
Here, already, the general orientation of philosophy comes into ques- tion, for it is not enough to say that philosophy is at the origin of the sciences and that it was their mother; rather, now that they are grown up and well estab- lished, we must ask why there is still philosophy, in what respect science is not sufficient. Philosophy has only ever responded to such a question in two ways, doubtless because there are only two possible responses.
One says that science gives us a knowledge of things, that it is therefore in a certain relation with them, and philosophy can renounce its rivalry with science, can leave things to science and present itself solely in a critical manner, as a reflection on this knowledge of things.
On the contrary view, philosophy seeks to establish, or rather restore, an other relationship to things, and therefore an other knowledge, a knowledge and a relationship that precisely science hides from us, of which it deprives us, because it allows us only to conclude and to infer without ever presenting, giv- ing to us the thing in itself. It is this second path that Bergson takes by repudiating critical philosophies when he shows us in science, in technical activ- ity, intelligence, everyday language, social life, practical need and, most importantly, in space — the many forms and relations that separate us from things and from their interiority.
But intuition has a second characteristic: understood in this way, it presents itself as a return, because the philosophical relationship, which puts us in things instead of leaving us outside, is restored rather than established by philosophy, rediscovered rather than invented. We are separated from things; the immediate given is therefore not immediately given. But we cannot be separated by a sim- ple accident, by a mediation that would come from us, that would concern only us.
The movement that changes the nature of things must be founded in things themselves; things must begin by losing themselves in order for us to end up los- ing them; being must have a fundamental lapse of memory. Matter is precisely that in being which prepares and accompanies space, intelligence and science. Hence Bergson does something entirely different from psychology, because mat- ter is more an ontological principle of intelligence than some mere intelligence is a psychological principle of matter itself or of space.
The two directions are natural as well, each in its own way: the former occurs accord- ing to nature, though nature risks losing itself in it at each pause, at each breath; the latter occurs contrary to nature, but nature rediscovers itself in it, starts over again in the tension. The latter can only be found beneath the former, and it is always thus that it is rediscovered. We rediscover the immediate because we must return to find it. In philosophy the first time is already the second; such is the notion of foundation. No doubt it is the product that is, in a way, and the move- ment that is not, that is no longer.
But it is not in these terms that the problem of being must be set up. At every instant, the movement is no more, but precisely because it is not made up of instants, because instants are only its real or virtual cessations, its product and the shadow of its product. Being is not made up of presents. In another way, then, it is the product that is not and the movement that already was. In one of Achilles' steps, the instants and the points are not divided up. Bergson shows us this in his most difficult book: it is not the present that is and the past that is no longer, rather the present is useful; being is the past, being used to be.
In distinguishing the two worlds, Bergson replaced them by the distinction of two movements, two direc- tions of one and the same movement, spirit and matter, two times in the same duration, the past and the present, which he knew how to conceive as coexistent precisely because they were in the same duration, the one beneath the other, and not the one after the other. We must simultaneously understand the necessary distinction as a difference of time, but also understand the different times, the present and the past, as contemporary with one another, and forming the same world.
We will now see in what way. Why is what we rediscover called the immediate? What is immediate? If sci- ence is a real knowledge of the thing, a knowledge of reality, what it loses or simply risks losing is not exactly the thing. What science risks losing, unless it is infiltrated by philosophy, is less the thing itself than the difference of the thing, that which makes its being, that which makes it this rather than that, this rather than something else.
Bergson energetically denounces what seem to him false problems: why is there something rather than nothing, why order rather than dis- order? First because they make of being a generality, something immovable or undifferentiated that, in the immobile ensemble in which it is set, can only be distinguished from noth- ingness, from non-being. Subsequently, even if one tries to give a movement to the immovable being thus posited, this movement would only be contradiction: 24 BERGSON, order and disorder, being and nothingness, the singular and the multiple.
But in fact, being cannot be composed with two contradictory points of view any more than movement is composed of points of space or of instants: the stitching would be too loose. In both cases being has left, it has deserted things, and it is no more than an abstraction. The Bergsonian question is therefore not: why something rather than nothing, but: why this rather than something else?
Why this tension of duration? Being is the difference itself of the thing, what Bergson often calls the nuance. The object of metaphysics is to recapture in individual existences, and to follow to the source from which it emanates, the particular ray that, conferring upon each of them its own nuance, reattaches it thereby to the universal light. Bergson denounces a common danger in science and in meta- physics: allowing difference to escape — because science conceives the thing as a product and a result, while metaphysics conceives being as something unmovable that serves as a principle.
Both seek to attain being or to recompose it starting from resemblances and ever greater oppositions, but resemblance and opposition are almost always practical, not ontological, categories. Whence Bergson's insis- tence on showing us that for the sake of resemblance we risk putting extremely different things, things that differ in nature, under the same word.
But what is nuance, the difference of the thing, what is the difference of a sugar cube? It is not simply its difference from another thing: there we would have only a purely exterior relation, leading us, in the final instance, back to space. Nor is it its difference with every- thing that it is not: we would be led back to a dialectic of contradiction. Plato already didn't want alterity and contradiction to be confounded. But for Bergson, alterity is still not enough to make it so that being rejoins things and really is the being of things.
He replaces the Platonic concept of alterity with an Aristotelian concept of alteration, in order to make of it substance itself. Being is alteration, alteration is substance. The being of the sugar cube will be defined by a duration, by a certain manner of persisting, by a certain relaxation or tension of duration. How does duration have this power? Or put the question another way: if being is the difference of the thing, what results from this for the thing itself?
We encounter a third characteristic of intuition, more profound than the preceding ones. Intuition as a method is a method that seeks difference. It presents itself as seeking and finding differences in nature, the "articulations of the real. Bergson loves to cite Plato's text comparing the philosopher to the good cook who cuts things up according to their natural articulations; he constantly reproaches science as well as metaphysics for having retained only differences of degree where there used to be something entirely different, of thus being part of a badly analyzed "composite.
Indeed, to the extent that we find ourselves before products, to the extent that the things with which we are concerned are still results, we cannot grasp differences of nature for the simple reason that there aren't any there: between two things, between two products, there are only and there only could be differences of degree, ofproportion. What differs in nature is never a thing, but a tendency. A difference of nature is never between two products or between two things, but in one and the same thing between the two tendencies that traverse it, in one and the same product between two tendencies that encounter one another in it.
Intuition appears very much like a true method of division: it divides the mixed into two tendencies that dif- fer in nature. Hence we see the meaning of the dualisms dear to Bergson: not only the titles of many of his works, but each of the chapters, and the heading that pre- cedes each page, exhibit such a dualism.
Quantity and quality, intelligence and instinct, geometric order and vital order, science and metaphysics, the closed and the open are its most known figures. We know that in the end they lead back to the always rediscovered distinction of matter and duration. Matter and duration are never distinguished as two things but as two movements, two tendencies, like relaxation and contraction. But we must go further: if the theme and the idea of purity have a great importance in the philosophy of Bergson, it is because in every case the two tendencies are not pure, or are not equally pure.
Only one of the two is pure, or simple, the other playing, on the contrary, the role of an impurity that comes to compromise or to disturb it. More than there ever 26 BERGSON, really being a difference of nature between the two tendencies that divide the thing up, the difference itself of the thing was one of the two tendencies.
And if we rise to the duality of matter and duration, we see quite clearly that duration shows us the very nature of difference, difference of self from self, whereas mat- ter is only the undifferentiated, that which is repeated, or the simple degree, that which can no longer change its nature. Do we not at the same time see that dual- ism is a moment already surpassed in Bergson's philosophy?
For if there is a privileged half in the division; it must be that this half contains in itself the secret of the other. If all the difference is on one side, it must be that this side compre- hends its difference from the other and, in a certain way, the other itself or its possibility. Duration differs from matter, but it does so because it is first that which differs in itself and from itself, with the result that the matter from which it differs is still essentially of duration. As long as we remain within dualism, the thing is where two movements meet: duration, which by itself has no degrees, encounters matter as a contrary movement, as a certain obstacle, a certain impu- rity that mixes it up, that interrupts its impulse [elan], that gives it such and such a degree here, another one over there.
From a still dualis- tic perspective, duration and matter were opposed as that which differs in nature and that which has only degrees; but more profoundly there are degrees of dif- ference itself; matter is the lowest, the very point where precisely difference is no longer anything but a difference of degree. And if it is a question of finally defining matter itself, it will not be enough to present it as an obstacle and as an impurity; it will always be necessary to show how it persists, its vibration still occupying multiple instances.
Thus any thing is completely defined from the right side, by a certain duration, by a cer- tain degree of duration itself. A composite breaks down into two tendencies, one of which is duration, sim- ple and indivisible; but at the same time duration is differentiated in two directions, the other of which is matter. Space breaks down into matter and dura- tion, but duration is differentiated into contraction and expansion, expansion being the principle of matter. Thus, if dualism is surpassed in favor of monism, monism gives us a new dualism, this time mastered, dominated.
Because the com- posite does not break down in the same way that the simple is differentiated. Therefore the method of intuition has a fourth and final characteristic: it is not content to follow natural articulations when carving things up; it also follows up "lines of fact," lines of differentiation, in order to rediscover the simple as a con- vergence of probabilities; it not only carves up [decoupe] but confirms [recoupe]. Bergson finds in biology, particularly in the evolution of species, the mark of a certain process essential to life, precisely that of differentiation as the production of real differences, a process whose con- cept and philosophical consequences he will pursue.
The admirable pages he wrote in Creative Evolution and in Two Sources show us such a life activity, lead- ing to plants and animals, or to instinct and intelligence, or to diverse forms of the same instinct. It seems to Bergson that differentiation is the mode of that which is realized, actualized, or made, in other words, that which gives rise to divergent series, lines of evolution, species.
Elan vital is difference to the extent that it passes into act. Hence differentiation does not come simply from matter's resistance, but more profoundly from a force that duration carries in itself: dichotomy is the law of life. And Bergson criticizes mechanism and finalism in biology, as he does the dialectic in philosophy, for always composing movement from points of view, as a relation between actual terms instead of seeing in it the actualization of some- thing virtual.
But if differentiation is thus the original and irreducible mode through which a virtualiry is actualized, and if elan vital is duration differentiat- ed, then duration itself is virtuality. Creative Evolution brings to Time and Free Will a necessary deepening as well as a necessary extension. Because, since Time and Free Will, duration was presented as the virtual or the subjective, because it was less that which cannot be divided than that which changes its nature by being divided.
To be actualized is always the act of a whole that does not become entirely actual at the same time, in the same place, or in the same thing; consequently, it produces species that differ in nature, and it is itself this difference of nature among the species it has produced. Berg- son constantly said that duration is a change of nature, of quality.
The pas- sage from one to the other is itself also an absolutely real phenomenon. Still, it must be said that duration is already elan vital because it is the essence of the virtual to be actualized; we therefore require a third aspect that shows it to us, one in some way intermediary to the two preceding. It is precisely under this third aspect that duration is called memory.
Through all of its charac- teristics, duration is indeed a memory because it prolongs the past in the present, "whether the present distinctly encloses the ever-growing image of the past or whether it rather bears witness, through its continual changing of quality, of the ever- weightier burden one leads behind oneself as one grows older. The first returns us to something that has survived from the past.
But among all the theses of Bergson, perhaps the most profound and least understood is the one according to which the past survives in itself. Bergson shows us that recollection is not the representation of something that was; the past is that in which we put ourselves from the outset in order to recollect ourselves. And this being in itself of the past is but the immediate consequence of a good setting up of the problem: because if the past had to wait to be no more, if it were not immediately and henceforth past, "past in general," it would never be able to become what it is, it would never be this past.
The past is therefore the in-itself, the unconscious or more precisely, as Bergson says, the virtual. It is here that we encounter the second figure of memory. The past is not constituted after it has been present; it coexists with itself as present. If we reflect upon it, we see that indeed the philosophical difficulty of the very notion of the past comes from the fact that it is in some way stuck between two presents: the present that it was and the current present in relation to which it is now past. The mistake of psy- chology, which badly sets up the problem, is to have retained the second present and therefore to have sought the past starting from something current, and final- ly, to have more or less situated it in the brain.
But in fact, "memory does not at all consist of a regression from the present to the past. This, then, is the sense in which the past coexists with itself as present: duration is but this coexistence itself, this coexistence of itself with itself. Thus the past and the present must be thought as two extreme degrees coexisting in duration, the one distinguished by its state of relaxation, the other by its state of contraction.
A famous metaphor tells us that at each level of the cone there is the whole of our past, but to different degrees: the present is only the most contracted degree of the past. We see therefore finally what is virtual: the coexistent degrees themselves and as such. As for intuition, Berg- son writes: "Only the method of which we speak allows us to go beyond idealism as well as realism, to affirm the existence of objects inferior and superior to us, while at the same time in a certain sense interior to us, to make them coexist together without difficulty.
In short, actually divergent series give birth to, in duration, coexistent virtual degrees. Between intelligence and instinct there is a difference of nature because they arise from two divergent series; but what does this difference of nature finally express if not two degrees that coexist in duration, two different degrees of relaxation or of contraction? It is thus that each thing, each being is the whole, but the whole realized to a certain degree or another.
In Bergson's first works, duration could appear an eminently psychological reality; but what is psychological is only our duration, that is to say, a certain well-determined degree. Thereafter, one perceives as many durations as one likes, all very different from one another. But what does such a reality signify? Simultaneously that the given presupposes a movement that invents it or creates it, and that this movement must not be conceived in the image of the given. Because if everything [tout] is not given, it remains that the virtual is the whole [le tout].
Let us recall that the elan vital is finite: the whole is what is realized in species, which are not in its image any more than they are the image of one another. Each simultaneously cor- responds to a certain degree of the whole and differs in nature from the others, such that the whole itself is presented at the same time as the difference of nature in reality, and as the coexistence of degrees in the mind.
If the past coexists with itself as present, if the present is the most contracted degree of the coexistent past, then this same present, because it is the precise point at which the past is cast toward the future, is defined as that which changes nature, the always new, the eternity of life. Therein lies not a renunciation of philos- ophy, but a profound and original attempt to discover the proper domain of philosophy, to attain the thing itself beyond the order of the possible, of causes and ends.
Finality, causality, possibility are always in relation to the thing once it is complete, and always presuppose that "everything" is given. When Bergson cri- tiques these notions, when he speaks to us of indeterminacy, he does not invite us to abandon reason but to reconnect with the true reason of the thing in the process of being made, the philosophical reason that is not determination but difference.
We find the whole movement of Bergsonian thought concentrated in Matter and Memory in the triple form of difference of nature, coexistent degrees of difference, and differentiation. Bergson first shows us that there is a difference of nature between the past and the present, between recollection and perception, between duration and matter: psychologists and philosophers have been wrong by being in every case coming from a badly analyzed composite.
He then shows us that it is still not enough to speak of a difference of nature between matter and duration, between the present and the past, because the whole question is pre- cisely to know what is a difference of nature: he shows that duration itself is this difference, such that it comprehends matter as its lowest, most relaxed degree, as an infinitely dilated past, and comprehends itself in contracting itself as an extremely narrow, tensed present. Finally, he shows us that if degrees coexist in duration, duration is at each instant that which is differentiated, that it is differ- entiated into past and present, or, if you prefer, that the present is doubled in two directions, one toward the past, the other toward the future.
These three times correspond, in the whole of the work, to the notions of duration, memory, and elan vital. The project we find in Bergson's work, that of reconnecting things by breaking with critical philosophies, was not absolutely new, even in France, because it defined a general conception of philosophy, and in many of its aspects participated in English empiricism.
But the method was profoundly new, as well as the three essential concepts that gave it its meaning. Such a philosophy is always at work on two different planes: the one methodological, and the other ontological. On the one hand, we must determine the differences of nature between things: only in this way will we be able "to return" to the things themselves, to account for them without reducing them to something other than what they are, to grasp them in their being. On the other hand, if the being of things is somehow in their differences of nature, we can expect that difference itself is something, that it has a nature, that it will yield Being.
These two problems, methodological and ontological, constantly echo one another: the problem of the differences of nature, the prob- lem of the nature of difference. In Bergson's work, we encounter these two problems in their connection, surprising them in their passage back and forth.
Essentially, Bergson criticizes his predecessors for not having seen true differences of nature. The constant presence of this critique also signals the importance of the theme in Bergson's work: where there were differences of nature, others have found merely differences of degree. And certainly we find the opposite criticism: where there were only differences of degree, others have introduced differences of nature, for example, between the so-called perceptive faculty of the brain and the reflexive functions of the medulla, or the perception of matter and matter itself.
To decide which is more important, we have to ask ourselves what is the aim of philosophy. If philosophy has a positive and direct relation to things, it is only insofar as philosophy claims to grasp the thing itself, according to what it is, in its difference from everything it is not, in other words, in its internal difference. If differences of nature do exist between individuals of the same kind, we must then recognize that differ- ence itself is not simply spatio-temporal, that it is not generic or specific — in a word, difference is not exterior or superior to the thing.
This is why, according to Bergson, it is important to show that general ideas, at least most of the time, ptesent us with extremely different facts in a grouping that is merely utilitarian: "Suppose on examining those states grouped under the name of pleasure, we dis- cover they share nothing in common, except being states that a person seeks out: humanity will have classified very different things as the same in kind, simply because humanity attributed the same practical interest to each and acted in the same way towards them.
Without prejudging the nature of difference as internal difference, we already know that internal differ- ence exists, given that there exist differences of nature between things of the same genus. Therefore, either philosophy proposes for itself this means differences of nature and this end to arrive at internal difference , or else it will have merely a negative or generic relation to things and will end up a part of criticism and mere generalities — in any case, it will run the risk of ending up in a merely exter- nal state of reflection.
Opting for the first alternative, Bergson puts forward philosophy's ideal: to tailor "for the object a concept appropriate to that object alone, a concept that one can hardly still call a concept, since it applies only to that one thing. Intuition is the joy of difference. But intuition is not just enjoying the result of the method, it is the method. As such, it is not a unique act. It offers us a plu- rality of acts, a plurality of efforts and directions.
And since these differences are between things, we are dealing with a genuine distribution, a genuine problem of distribution. One must carve up reality according to its articulations, 6 and Bergson willingly cites Plato's famous text on carving and the good cook. But the difference of nature between two things is still not the internal difference of the thing itself. From the articulations of the real must be distinguished factual lines which define another effort of the intuition.
The artic- ulations of the real distribute things according to their differences of nature; they constitute differentiation. Factual lines are directions to be followed, each to its end, converging on one and the same thing; they define integration, each form- ing a line of probability. In L'Energie spirituelle, Bergson shows us the nature of consciousness at the point where three factual lines converge.
In short, the articulations of the real correspond to dissection or cutting [decoupage], and factual lines to intersection or cross-check- ing [ "recoupement" ]. To be sure, in both cases, the pathways are the same; what mat- ters is the direction one takes them in, toward divergence or convergence. There are always two aspects of difference that we intuit: the articulations of the real give us differences of nature between things; factual lines show us the thing itself identical to its difference, internal difference identical to something.
Neglecting differences of nature in favor of genres is like lying to philosophy. The differences of nature have been lost. We suddenly realize that science has substituted simple differences of degree in their place, and that metaphysics has prefered, more particularly, simple differences of intensity. The first question deals with science: how do we manage to see only differences of degree?
In a word, we substitute merely utilitarian modes of grouping for articulations of the real.
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However, this is not the most important point; utility cannot ground what makes it possible in the first place. Therefore, two other points must be emphasized. First, degrees do have effects in reality; and in a non-spatial form, they are in some way already included in the differ- ences of nature: "behind our qualitative distinctions" are usually numbers. Utility, then, only frees up and spreads out the degrees already included in difference, until difference is nothing more than a difference of degree.
Second, if degrees can be freed up in this way and on their own form differences, we must look for the cause in the state of experience. What space presents to the understanding, and what understanding finds in space, are only things, i. However, between things in the sense of results there are never, and cannot ever be, anything but differences of propor- tion.
This is why the conception of species-specific difference is unsatisfactory: we must closely follow not the presence of characteristics, but their tendency to develop. In short, simple dif- ference of degree will be the correct status of things separated from their tendency and grasped in their elementary causes. Causes indeed fall within the scope of quantity. On static versus dynamic religion, he writes: "By adopting this point of view, one would perceive a series of transitions, something that looks like differences of degree, where in fact there are radical differences of nature.
Space only ever presents, and the intelligence only ever discovers composites, e. And one must understand that a composite is undoubtedly a blending of tendencies that differ in nature, but as such is a state of things in which it is impossible to make out any differences of nature. A composite is what one sees from that point of view where nothing differs in nature from anything else. The homogeneous is by definition composite, because what is simple is always something that differs in nature: only tendencies are simple, pure.
That which really differs, therefore, can be found only by rediscovering the tendency beyond its product. Since we have nothing else at our disposal, we have to use whatever such composites provide, differences of degree or proportion, but only as a mesure of tendency, to arrive at tendency as the sufficient reason of propor- tion.
Bergson shows us this view of intensity as it informs Greek meta- physics: because this latter defines space and time as a simple relaxation, a lessening of being, it discovers among beings themselves only differences of intensity, situating them somewhere between the two extremes of perfection and nothingness. For the moment, suf- fice it to say that such an illusion depends less on composite ideas than on pseudo-ideas, such as disorder or nothingness.
But these pseudo-ideas are them- selves a kind of composite idea, 1 " and the illusion of intensity at bottom depends on the illusion of space. In the end, there is only one kind of false problem, prob- lems whose propositions fail to respect differences of nature. One of the roles intuition plays is to criticize the arbitrariness of such propositions.
To reach genuine differences, we have to attain that perspective from which whatever is composite can be divided. Tendencies that come in paired opposites differ in nature. Tendency is the subject here. A being is not the subject, but the expression of tendency; furthermore, a being is only the expression of tendency in as much as one tendency is opposed by another tendency. This method is something other than a spatial analysis, more than a description of experience, and less so it seems than a transcenden- tal analysis.
It reaches the conditions of the given, but these conditions are tendency-subjects, which are themselves given in a certain way: they are lived. What is more, they are at once the pure and the lived, the living and the lived, the absolute and the lived. What is essential here is that this ground is experi- enced, and we know how much Bergson insisted on the empirical character of the elan vital. Thus it is not the conditions of all possible experience that must be reached, but the conditions of real experience. Schelling had already proposed this aim and defined philosophy as a superior empiricism: this formulation also applies to Bergsonism.
These conditions can and must be grasped in an intuition precisely because they are the conditions of real experience, because they are not broader than what is conditioned, because the concept they form is identical to its object. It will come as no surprise, then, that a kind of principle of sufficient reason, as well as indiscernibles, can be found in Bergson's work.
What he rejects is a distribution that locates cause or reason in the genus and the category and abandons the individual to contingency, stranding him in space. Reason must reach all the way to the individual, the genuine concept all the way to the thing, and comprehension all the way to "this.
Why will a perception call up one recollection rather than another? Why these rather than others? There are no accidents in the life of the psyche: 25 its essence is nuance. As long as the concept that fits only the object itself has not been found, "the unique concept," we are satisfied with explaining the object by several concepts, general ideas "of which the object is supposed to partake. Only tendency is the unity of the concept and its object, such that the object is no longer contingent, and the concept no longer general.
These methodological clarifications, however, do not seem to avert the impasse where the method appears to be headed. Whatever is composite must be divided into two tendencies, but the differences of proportion in the mixture itself do not tell us how to find these tendencies, nor what is the rule of division. More importantly, given two tendencies, which is the right one? The two are not equivalent, they have different values: one tendency always predominates. Only the dominant tendency defines the true nature of whatever is composite; only the dominant tendency is the unique concept, it alone is pure, since it is the purity of the corresponding thing; the other tendency is the impurity that compromis- es the first and opposes it.
So, animal behavior exhibits instinct as the dominant tendency, whereas in human behavior it is intelligence. What rule or measure do we use to determine this? Here we rediscover a diffi- culty which Plato also encountered: how does one respond to Aristotle's remark that Plato's method of difference is just a feeble syllogism, unable to decide con- clusively in which half of the divided genus resides the Idea being sought after, since the middle term is missing?
And Plato seems better off than Bergson, because the Idea of a transcendent Good can effectively guide the choice of the right half. In general, however, Bergson refuses help from finality, as though he wanted the method of difference to be self-sufficient. This difficulty may be illusory. We know that the articulations of the real do not define the essence and the aim of the method. Certainly, the difference of nature between two tendencies is an improvement over the difference of degree between things, as well as the difference of intensity between beings: and yet this difference remains external; it is still an external difference.
At this point, Bergsonian intuition, to be complete, does not lack an external term which could serve as a rule; if anything, Bergsonian intuition still looks too external. Let's take an example: Bergson shows that abstract time is a composite of space and dura- tion, and more profoundly, that space itself is a composite of matter and duration, matter and memory.
So we see the composite divided into two ten- dencies: matter is a tendency, since it is defined as a relaxation; and duration is a tendency, since it is a contraction. However, if we examine all the definitions, descriptions, and characteristics of duration in Bergson's work, we will notice that the difference of nature, in the end, is not between these two tendencies.
In the end, the difference of nature is itself one of these tendencies, and opposes the other. So, then, what is duration? Everything Bergson has to say about it comes down to this: duration is what differs from itself. Matter, on the other hand, is what does not differ from itself; it is what repeats itself. In Donnees immediates, Bergson shows not only that intensity is a composite divided into two tenden- cies, but more importantly, that intensity is not a property of sensation; sensation is a pure quality, and a pure quality or sensation differs in nature from itself.
Sen- sation is what changes in nature and not in magnitude. But the essence of this move- ment, even pure transit like the race of Achilles, is alteration. Movement is qualitative change, and qualitative change is movement. What differs has itself become a thing, a substance. Bergson's thesis could be summed up in this way: real time is alteration, and alteration is substance. Difference of nature is therefore no longer between two things or rather two tendencies; difference of nature is itself a thing, a tendency opposed to some other tendency.
And just as difference has become a substance, so movement is no longer the characteristic of something, but has itself acquired a substantial character. It presupposes nothing else, no body in motion. Now we know both how to divide the composite and how to choose the right tendency, since what differs from itself, namely duration, is always on the right side; duration is in each case revealed to us under an aspect, one of its "nuances. The division of animal behavior places intelligence on the left side because duration, the elan vital, is expressed as instincts through such behavior, whereas intelligence is on the right side for the analysis of human behavior.
But intelligence cannot change sides without in turn revealing itself as an expression of duration, though in humanity now: if intelligence takes the form of matter, it has the sense of duration because intelligence is the organ that dominates mat- ter: a sense uniquely present in humanity. And to see a final nuance of duration in matter, one has only to go farther, to go all the way. But to understand this crucial point, we must keep in mind what difference has become. Difference is no longer between two tendencies; difference is itself one of the tendencies and is always on the right side.
External difference has become internal difference. Difference of nature has itself become a nature. More than that, it was so from the beginning. Thus it was that the articulations of the real and facutal lines were relayed back and forth: the articulations of the real sketched factual lines which at least revealed internal dif- ference as the limit of their convergence, and conversely, factual lines gave us articulations of the real, e. In this very appearance, difference of nature was already distinguished from the difference of degree, the difference of intensity, and species-specific differ- ence.
However, there are now other distinctions to be made in the state of internal difference: Duration can be presented as substance itself in so far as duration is simple, indivisible. Alteration must therefore maintain itself and achieve its status without allowing itself to be reduced to plurality, to contradic- tion, or even to alterity. Internal difference will have to distinguish itself from contradiction, alterity, and negation. This is precisely where Bergson's method and theory of difference are opposed to the other theory, the other method of differ- ence called dialectic, whether it's Plato's dialectic of alterity or Hegel's dialectic of contradiction, each of which imply the presence and the power of the negative.
The real sense of Bergson's endeavor is thinking internal difference as such, as pure internal difference, and raising dif- ference up to the absolute. Duration is only one of two tendencies, one of two halves. So, if we accept that it differs from itself in all its being, does it not contain the secret of the other half? How could it still leave external to itself that from which it differs, namely the other tendency? If duration differs from itself, that from which it differs is still duration in a certain sense. It is not a question of dividing duration in the same way we divided what is composite: duration is simple, indivisible, pure.
The simple is not divided, it differentiates itself. This is the essence of the simple, or the movement of difference.
unidentified.webd.pl/piercing/legend/encyclopedia-of-literature-and-science.php So, the composite divides into two tendencies, one of which is the indivisible, but the indivisible differentiates itself into two tendencies, the other of which is the principle of the divisible. Space is broken up into matter and duration, but duration differentiates itself into contraction and relaxation; and relaxation is the principle of matter. Organic form is broken up into matter and elan vital, but the elan vital differentiates itself into instinct and intelligence; and intelligence is the principle of the transformation of matter into space.
Clearly, the composite is not broken up in the same way that the sim- ple differentiates itself: the method of difference takes both these two movements together. But now this power of differentiation must be examined. It is this power which will lead us to the pure concept of internal difference. To determine such a concept, we will have to show in what way that which differs from dura- tion, i.
In Duration and Simultaneity, Bergson attributes to duration a strange power, the ability to englobe itself, even while it splits itself up into fluxes and concen- trates itself in a single current, according to the nature of attention we pay to it. But the necessary clarifications are to be found in Creative Evolution. Biology shows us the process of differentiation at work. We are look- ing for a concept of difference that does not allow itself to be reduced to degree or intensity, to alterity or contradiction: such a difference is vital, even if the con- cept itself is not biological.
Tife is the process of difference. In this instance, Bergson is thinking less of embryological differentiation than the differentiation of species, i. In his idea of evolution, Darwin helped associate the problem of difference with life, even though Darwin himself had a false concep- tion of vital difference. Furthermore, he shows that internal dif- ference cannot be conceived as a simple determination: a determination can be accidental, in any case it can get its being only from a cause, an end, or a coin- cidence; and this implies a subsisting exteriority; not to mention that the relation of several determinations is only one of association or addition.
Bergson always emphasizes the unforeseeable character of living forms: "they are indeterminate, by which I mean unforeseeable. By making difference a simple determination, either it is surrendered to chance, or it becomes necessary with respect to something but only by making it accidental with respect to life. Where life is concerned, however, the tendency to change is not accidental. Differentiation certainly comes from the resistence life encounters from matter, but it comes first and foremost from the explosive internal force which life carries within itself.
Differentiation is the movement of a virtuality actualizing itself. Life differs from itself, so we are confronted by divergent lines of evolution and, on each line, orignal processes. Still, it is only with itself that life differs; consequently, also on each line, we are confronted by particular apparatuses, particular organ structures that are identical though obtained by different means. The notion of differentiation posits at once the simplicity of a virtual, the divergence of the series in which this virtual actualizes itself, and the resemblence of certain fundamental results produced in these series.
Bergson explains just how important resemb- lence is as a biological category: 39 it is the identity of that which differs from itself; it proves that the same virtuality actualizes itself in the divergence of series; and it shows the essence subsisting in change, just as divergence shows the change itself at work in the essence. Biological differentiation certainly has its principle in life itself, but it is none the less bound up with matter, such that its products remain separate, external to one another. From then on, these tendencies evolve successively but in the same being: humanity will go as far as it can in one direction, then turn around and go in the other direction.
What does this mean? It means that difference becomes conscious and achieves self-consciousness in humanity and only in humanity. If difference itself is biological, the consciousness of difference is historical. True, the function of this historical consciousness of difference should not be exaggerated. According to Bergson, more than providing something new, it liberates what is already there. Consciousness was already there, with and in difference. Duration is all by itself consciousness, life all by itself is consciousness — but it is so by rights.
Consequently, there exists by rights an identity between difference itself and the consciousness of difference: history is never any- thing other than a matter of fact. This identity by rights between difference and the consciousness of difference is memory; and it is memory that will give us the nature of the pure concept. Nevertheless, before we get there, we must examine how the process of dif- ferentiation is sufficient to distinguish Bergson's method from dialectic.
The major similarity between Plato and Bergson is that they each created a philoso- phy of difference in which difference is thought as such; it is not reduced to contradiction and does not go as far as contradiction. Therefore, in his dichotomy, Plato needs the Good as the rule to govern choice. There is no intu- ition in Plato, but there is inspiration by the Good. In this sense, at least one of Bergson's texts is Platonic: in Les Deux sources, he shows that one must examine functions if one hopes to uncover genuine articulations of the real. What is the function of each faculty? For example, what is the function of storytelling?
But we know that carving up reality, or the articulations of the real, is only a preliminary expression of the method. Precisely, however, this is why Bergson both criticizes finality and does not restrict himself to the articulations of the real: the thing itself and its corresponding end are in fact one and the same thing, which on the one hand is seen as the composite it forms in space, and on the other, as difference and the simplicity of pure duration.
Thus Bergson's conception of difference of nature allows him, unlike Plato, to avert any genuine recourse to finality. Similarly, using certain texts by Bergson, we can imagine the objections he would have had to a Hegelian-inspired dialec- tics, from which he is even more removed than Platonic dialectics. In Bergson, thanks to the notion of the virtual, the thing differs from itself first, immediate- ly. According to Hegel, the thing differs from itself because it differs first from everything it is not, and thus difference goes as far as contradiction.
The distinc- tion between opposite and contradiction matter little in this context, since contradiction, like the opposite, is only the presentation of a whole. In both cases, difference has been replaced by the play of determination. For example, duration is supposedly the synthesis of unity and mul- tiplicity. However, if Bergson could object that Platonism goes no farther than a conception of difference as still external, the objection he would address to a dialectic of contradiction is that it gets no farther than a conception of difference as only abstract.
Thus the dialectic of contradiction falls short of difference itself, which is the cause or reason of nuance. And in the end, contradiction is only one of the numerous retrospective illusions that Bergson denounces. What is differentiating itself in two divergent tendencies is a virtuality, and as such it is something absolutely simple that actu- alizes itself.
We treat it as a real thing by composing it with the characteristic elements of two tendencies which, however, were created only in its very devel- opment. We think duration differs from itself because it is first the product of two contrary determinations, but we forget that it differentiated itself because it is first that which differs from itself.
Everything comes back to Bergson's critique of the negative: his whole effort is aimed at a conception of difference without negation, a conception of difference that does not contain the negative. In his critique of disorder, as well as his critique of nothingness or contradiction, Berg- son tries to show that the negation of one real term by the other is only the positive actualization of a virtuality that contains both terms at once.
The opposition of two terms is only the actualization of a virtuality that contained them both: this is tantamount to saying that difference is more profound than negation or contradiction. Whatever the importance of differentiation, it is not what is most profound. If it were, there would be no reason to speak of a concept of difference: differ- entiation is an action, an actualization.
What differentiates itself is first that which differs from itself, in other words, the virtual. Differentiation is not the concept, but the production of objects that finds its cause or reason in the con- cept. Only, if we accept that what differs from itself must be such a concept, then the virtual must have a consistancy, an objective consistancy that enables it to dif- ferentiate itself, to produce such objects.
In those crucial pages devoted to Ravaisson, Bergson explains that there are two ways of determining what colors have in common. The concept and the object are two things, and the relation of the object to the concept is one of subsumption. Thus we get no farther than spatial distinctions, a state of difference that is external to the thing. Or we send the colors through a convergent lense that concentrates them on the same point: what we have then is "pure white light," the very light that "makes the differences come out between the shades.
Degrees of difference itself, and not differences of degree. The relation is no longer one of subsumption, but one of participation. White light is still a uni- versal, but a concrete universal, which gives us an understanding of the particular because it is the far end of the particular. Because things have become nuances or degrees of the concept, the concept itself has become a thing. It is a universal thing, if you like, since the objects look like so many degrees, but a concrete thing, not a genus or a generality. Properly speaking, there is no longer many objects for one concept; the concept is identical to the thing itself.
But it is not the resemblance of objects; the concept is the difference between them, to which they are related. This is internal difference: the concept which has become a con- cept of difference. To achieve this superior philosophical goal, what was required?
We had to give up thinking in terms of space: the spatial distinction "does not entail degrees. And what properly belongs to internal difference is this: it makes the concept a concrete thing, because things are just nuances or degrees present within the con- cept. It is in this sense that Bergsonism has put difference, and the concept along with it, into time. If in spite of this apparent paradox, we label this possible coexistence memory, as Berg- son himself does, we must conclude that the elan vital is less profound than duration. Duration, memory, and elan vital are the three aspects of the concept that can be distinguished with precision.
Duration is difference from itself; memory is the coexistence of degrees of difference; the elan vital Is the differentiation of dif- ference. These three stages define a schematizism in Bergson's philosophy. The role of memory is to give the virtuality of duration itself an objective consisten- cy which makes it a concrete universal, and enable it to actualize itself.
When virtuality actualizes itself, that is to say, differentiates itself, it is through life and in a vital form. In this sense, it is true that difference is vital. But virtuality was able to differentiate itself using only the degrees that coexist within it. Differen- tiation is only the separation of what coexisted in duration. The differentiations of the elan vital arc, in a more profound way, the degrees of difference itself.
And the products of differentiation are objects in absolute conformity with the object, at least in their purity, because they are in fact nothing other than the compli- mentary position of the different degrees of the concept itself. It is in this sense again that the theory of differentiation is less profound than the theory of nuances or degrees.
The virtual now defines an absolutely positive mode of existence.