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Bergson, Henri - Time and Free Will - Emotional Intensity



Type of Spiritual Experience


Intensity of emotion on a day to day basis seems to be governed by the concentration placed on the activity generating the emotion.

In the following quote, Bergson provides the example of the emotion of pleasure.  The will/command and control function is faced with making a choice as to which pleasure it will choose and as he points out it is often not a conscious decision.  But as long as the will chooses just one, we may then get wholly immersed in that one pursuit.

The more we are immersed in the activity that is giving us the pleasure, the greater the intensity.  Thus, if we have a lot of other activities on the go at the same time, the degree of pleasure will be less, but concentrate on the one pleasure giving activity to the exclusion of others and the intensity of the experience will be much greater.

A description of the experience

Henri Bergson – Time and Free Will

When confronted by several pleasures pictured by our mind, our body turns towards one of them spontaneously, as though by a reflex action.  It rests with us to check it, but the attraction of the pleasure is nothing but this movement that is begun, and the very keenness of the pleasure, while we enjoy it, is merely the inertia of the organism, which is immersed in it and rejects every other sensation.  Without this vis inertiae of which we become conscious by the very resistance which we offer anything that might distract us, pleasure would be a state, but no longer a magnitude

The source of the experience

Bergson, Henri

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Science Items

Activities and commonsteps