Bergson, Henri - Time and Free Will - Emotional states
Type of Spiritual Experience
Because the way the function of emotion works is a sliding scale of emotion with no fixed points, our naming of each intermediate stage between extremes has to be entirely subjective. Furthermore, we have no way of measuring such degrees of emotion. It is not like some external effect which can be measured like temperature. Our emotions are entirely internal to us and thus cannot be measured except by giving somewhat inadequate words to the intermediate stages. Henri Bergson expresses this using the example of the poet and writer…
A description of the experience
Henri Bergson – Time and Free Will
Language… denotes … states by the same words in every case; so that it has been able to fix only the objective and impersonal aspect of love, hate, and the thousand emotions which stir the soul.
We estimate the talent of a novelist by the power with which he lifts out of the common domain, to which language had thus brought them down, feelings and ideas to which he strives to restore, by adding detail to detail, their original and living individuality.
But just as we can go on inserting points between two positions of a moving body without ever filling up the space traversed, in the same way, by the mere fact that we associate states with states and that these states are set side by side instead of permeating one another, we fail to translate completely what our soul experiences; there is no common measure between mind and language