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does, that we know number by “picturing” it; and that we cannot escape the characteristics of the graphic imagination. He would not fall into the loose common sense use of the term 'conceive' as depict; and thus perpetually confuse the arrangement of the instrumental image with the arrangement which it enables us to know.
Indeed, if it were not possible to employ spacial images for the knowing of non-spacial things, Bergson himself would be even more helpless than those whom he criticizes. For his own favorite expressions are essentially spacial. What images do the words “flux," "continuity,” “interpenetration," "deep-seated,” “interconnexion," "organization," and "fusion,” suggest, if not spacial images? And yet Bergson assumes that these images may so function as to afford knowledge of that which is essentially non-spacial. If a figure of speech can so function, is there any reason why a geometrical figure, or algebraic formula, should not? In short, Bergson arbitrarily imputes to his intellectualist adversary a naïve identification of object and symbol which he disclaims in his own behalf.
It is not a question, then, of imputing to time the arrangement characteristic of logical or mathematical symbolism, but of imputing to time certain properties which may be known by means of this symbolism. Is time an order, or is it not? Is duration an extensive magnitude, or is it not? Now the orderliness of time is implied in all that Bergson has to say about it, e.g., in its continuity, and in its duality of 'sense' or direction. While its multiplicity, even though it be characterized as qualitative” rather than “juxtapositional,” is orderly, in that if any phase, a, be later or older than another phase, b, and b than a third phase, c, then a is later or older than c. And as to time's being an extensive magnitude, Bergson's argument would appear to consist in pointing out that temporal processes are not merely extensive magnitudes; which no one, I think, would be disposed to deny. Velocity, e.g., is an intensive of 1 Time and Free Will, p. 78.
magnitude. But this does not in the least prevent its being a ratio of the extensive magnitudes, d (distance) and t (lapse, or interval of time). It may even be admitted that every temporal process or change, every function of time, has intensive magnitude; and this in no way contradicts the conception of time itself as an extensive magnitude. In other words, an intensive magnitude may be a function of extensive magnitudes, and may be computable or predictable in terms thereof.
That such is the case is proved by the predictions which science is actually enabled to make. Bergson's critique of astronomical prediction turns upon the assertion that the symbol t in the equations of astronomy "does not stand for a duration, but for a relation between two durations, for a certain number of units of time, in short, for a certain number of simultaneities.” 1 In other words, the t of science is measured by some standard change, such as the motion of the hands of a clock. So that if a "mischievous genius" were to decree that all the movements of the universe should go twice as fast, the predictions of science would not be affected. Now, granting this, it follows only that science cannot predict absolutely, but only relatively. This, however, does not in the least detract from the precision of the prediction, nor from its reference to the future. Indeed the very statement of the objection assumes that time is an extensive magnitude. For if the movements of the universe may go "twice as fast," then it must be possible that the same distances should be covered in half the time. And if time can be halved it must be an extensive magnitude.
Subsequently, Bergson has the temerity to speak of a decree that time itself “shall go ten times, a hundred times, a thousand times as fast.” Apparently the rate of real time is to be measured by the immediate feeling of the "enduring” or ageing of experience. If so, can Bergson explain, without making use of the conception of
a pure extended time, what is meant by “a psychological duration of a few seconds ?”i Or how temporal magnitudes are commensurable; how, e.g., two lives with different experiences may be regarded as synchronous? Or how one day may be regarded as fuller and richer than another? The fact is that no quantitative judgments whatsoever can be made concerning temporal processes that do not employ the notion of a simple extended (not spacial) temporal magnitude. And the predictions of science are made in terms of this component of change. The t of the equations of mechanics means this component.
As we have seen, Bergson is constantly confusing the symbol with what it means. To one who falls into this confusion, it may appear that an equation cannot refer to time because the structure of the equation itself is not temporal; because the symbols are simultaneously present in the equation. But if t is one of the terms of the equation, and t means time, then the equation means a temporal process. Furthermore, an equation may define a relation, such as, =,<, or >, between temporal quantities, in which case the full meaning of the equation is still temporal. For changes, events, or even pure intervals, may stand in non-temporal relations, such as those above, without its in the least vitiating their temporality. The supposition that an equation defining a relation can mean no more than the relation defined is disproved by every formula of science. The formula, c = a2 + b2 – 2 ab. cos.y, does not mean merely equality, but a relation of equality among the sides and an angle of a triangle. The formula means something about triangles, by virtue of the meaning of its component variables, and despite the fact that the relation defined is the non-spacial relation of numerical equality. And similarly, a formula in dynamics, such as v = gt, means something about a temporal process.
There remains one further instance of Bergson's failure to represent with any correctness the position of his deterministic opponent. It is a question of Paul's ability to predict Peter's choice, provided he knows “all the conditions under which Peter acts."i Bergson argues that in order to know absolutely all of the conditions under which Peter acts, and to know all about these conditions (including what they lead to), Paul would have to be Peter, up to and including the moment of his choice — so that instead of predicting the choice, he would be himself making it.
1 Op. cit., pp. 193, 194.
But determinism does not rest its case on the possibility of knowing all the conditions of an event. No such knowledge has ever been attained in any instance. Determinism rests its case upon the fact that it has sometimes proved possible to find just those particular conditions upon which the event depended. Prediction always abstracts, not only causes, but effects as well. It finds cases of specific, discriminated terms, antecedent and subsequent, that are connected by a law. Its prediction is based on the specific antecedent, and confined to the specific consequence. It assumes that whenever such and such conditions occur, whatever else may occur, such and such consequences will ensue, whatever else may ensue. And Bergson has offered no reason for supposing that such is not the case with human action, as well as with other temporal sequence. As a matter of fact, it is the case. Human action is predictable within limits; inasmuch as laws, such as those of physiology, pathology, and psychology, have been found and verified. So that Bergson's objection amounts to no more than the contention that human action is not in all respects predictable, which holds equally of every other concrete event.
Thus the indeterminism that is founded on the polemic against intellectualism, like that founded on pluralism, means only that there is disjunction, irrelevance, and novelty in the world, as well as law. Such indetermination is enjoyed by life and moral action no more than by
1 Op. cit., pp. 185, and sq.
its natural environment. There is thus far no ground for imputing to man any prerogative of freedom, by which his nature is distinguished and exalted. Indeterminism in such a positive and eulogistic sense depends entirely, then, on the further doctrine that man possesses a unique activity, a real causality of another order, through which he may be the original and spontaneous author of events.
§ 8. Pragmatism's positive version of freedom follows from the postulate of "dynamism,” as opposed to "mechFreedom as
anism.” “Dynamism starts from the idea of Creative voluntary activity, given by consciousness,” Activity
and “has thus no difficulty in conceiving free force.” From this point of view, "the idea of spontaneity is indisputably simpler than that of inertia, since the second can be understood and defined only by means of the first, while the first is self-sufficient." Similarly,
. Schiller says that the will is "the original and more definite archetype, of which causation is a derivative, vaguer and fainter ectype." 1
Bergson has stated the issue clearly. It is essential to his view that the free creative activity of will should be regarded as a simple and self-sufficient experience. There is, it is true, a suggestion of another view. We are told that the free act is the act of which the "self alone" is the author; the act which expresses “ the whole of the self," as distinguished from “reflex acts.”? But for Bergson
.2 the whole of the self is not the sum of its parts; so that it is impossible to construe its action as a more complicated or massive reflex. The “whole personality” is indivisible and unanalyzable; it appears only when conscious states dissolve into a higher unity, and its action can only be felt and not traced.
And this self-intuiting activity becomes the first princi
· Bergson: op. cit., pp. 140-142; Schiller: Riddles of the Sphinx, third edition, p. 443. Cf. Appendix I, passim. For James's more critical and limited acceptance of the same view, see below, pp. 352-353, 371.
· Time and Free Will, pp. 165, 166, 168.