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Bergson, Henri - Matter and Memory - On impulse and dreaming



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Henri Bergson – Matter and Memory

Is it not by the constancy of this agreement, by the precision with which these two complementary memories [perception and memory] insert themselves each into the other, that we recognise a 'well balanced' mind, that is to say, in fact, a man nicely adapted to life?

The characteristic of the man of action is the promptitude with which he summons to the help of a given situation all the memories [memory and perceptions] which have reference to it; but it is also the insurmountable barrier which [he] encounters, when they present themselves on the threshold of his consciousness, memories that are useless or indifferent.

To live only in the present, to respond to a stimulus by the immediate reaction  which prolongs it, is the mark of the lower animals [sic]; the man who proceeds in this way is a man of impulse.

But he who lives in the past for the mere pleasure of living there and in whom recollections emerge into the light of consciousness without any advantage for the present situation is hardly better fitted for action; here we have no man of action, but a dreamer.

Between these two extremes lies the happy disposition of a memory docile enough to follow with precision all the outlines of the present situation, but energetic enough to resist all other appeal.  Good sense or practical sense, is probably nothing but this

The source of the experience

Bergson, Henri

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