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Bergson, Henri - Matter and Memory - Memory and Perception



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Henri Bergson – Matter and Memory

There are … two 'memories', which are profoundly distinct.  The one [memory] is nothing else but the complete set of intelligently constructed mechanisms which ensure the appropriate reply to the various possible demands.  This memory enables us to adapt ourselves to the present situation; through it the actions to which we are subject prolong themselves into reactions that are sometimes accomplished, sometimes merely nascent, but always more or less appropriate....
The other [perceptions] is the true memory.  Co-extensive with consciousness, it retains and ranges alongside of each other all our states in the order in which they occur, leaving to each fact its place and consequently marking its date, truly moving in the past and not like the first, in an ever renewed present.

We have distinguished … pure memory, memory image and perception of which no one, in fact, occurs apart from the others.  Perception is never a mere contact of the mind with the object present; it is impregnated with memory images which complete it as they interpret it.  The memory image, in its turn, partakes of the pure memory which it begins to materialise and of the perception in which it tends to embody itself; regarded from the latter point of view, it might be defined as nascent perception..............

Memory, inseparable in practice from perception, imports the past into the present, contracts into a single intuition many moments of duration...................

The past is essentially that which acts no longer … the present that which is acting.....

We measure in practice the degree of reality by the degree of utility.




The source of the experience

Bergson, Henri

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Inherited genes