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Philosophy is a game with objectives and no rules.
Mathematics is a game with rules and no objectives.
Theology is a game whose object is to bring rules into the subjective.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Intuition and Critique of intellect

Critique of intellect

Given that absolute reality is a duration or flow one is most attuned to, this flow not in one's thought (which halts or stops this irreducible flux) but in actions in which one participates in and so move along with this flow. All theoretical knowing, therefore, is founded on a more primordial or original practical attitude of the knower to what is known. The mistake of metaphysics is to assume that universals or essences actually exist in the real things; rather all rational analysis is a kind of “objectifying” the absolute reality of duration into “segments” or static objects to be known. By adding up a number of segments or perspectives as “propositions” about the object we represent to ourselves an image of the thing that is known. In this way, one builds up or constructs a unity out of the parts which one has gathered or perceived. This knowledge can be very useful in practical affairs but it should not be confused with the ultimate reality itself, as if one were really knowing the things in themselves. Rather this unity of parts belongs to the symbol as opposed to the ultimate reality which has no parts. This capacity of intellectual knowing Bergson attributes to analysis. In analyzing, one dissects or breaks up into parts, only in order to later construct or unify that knowledge of the object under analysis. This tendency to analyze is a result of conceptual reason which always thinks in this way, that is, by objectifying. In doing this, time as the ultimate reality is conceived of in the form of space. But for Bergson time eludes all spatial representation and so there must be a more original way of accessing this ultimate reality.


Since in all rational knowledge, one understands through concepts, which “freeze” the ultimate reality of duration into static representations, there must be a way to penetrate this ultimate reality in order to “know” it. Bergson calls this means of access “intuition.” Intuition is opposed to intellect and is used as a philosophical method by which one enters into a reality in order to experience it immediately in its original manner. For Bergson, intuition is deeper than intellect and so is able to penetrate the reality and so experience it even if it can’t know it, strictly speaking, through rational analysis.

Although not rational analysis itself, intuition is still a kind of reflection rather than some kind of instinct, feeling, or sensible perception. The disclosure of duration occurs, therefore, through an introspection of self whereby one sees through memory the flux of time, which passes through all one's various experiences, knowledge, associations, and so forth. But given this limitation of intuition, Bergson is forced into metaphorical imagery to evoke this more original experience of time. Moreover, he holds that one can “think” in duration by reflecting upon this ultimate flow from within this very flow itself, which is what metaphorical language is able to achieve because its imagery is more basic to the original flux than is the "imagery" of conceptual representation. Furthermore, because such “knowledge” is based on this original metaphysical experience, Bergson refers to his philosophy as the “true empiricism.” Therefore, he encourages his readers to penetrate for themselves the hidden depths by which the original dynamism of duration can be experienced. Likewise, the freedom, which is inherent in duration, can also be experienced within this metaphysical intuition; thus, one encounters the élan vital which eludes the mechanical necessity of brute force and so opens the space for creative possibility.

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