You are here

Lecture VI. Images

Lecture VI. Images
XXVI. The mark of the Past and of the Future. XXVII. Disparate Orders of being. XXVIII. Images at the level of Pure Perception. XXIX. Concrete Perception. XXX. Memory Images and Recollection.
§ XXVI. The Mark of the Past and of the Future.

If there be any truth in the views to which I sought to give expression in the foregoing lecture there is no secondary and a fortiori no tertiary retention on the plane of consciousness. There is only such secondary or tertiary retention of the set of organic conditions with their lower-level correlates that are involved on the plane of life. Primary retention however is conscious retention under correlation or if it be preferred persistence within some period of duration both of a process of minding and of that which is objectively minded. But this too involves not only a like persistence of vital events but that of the physico-chemical events which are the basis of life. It is quite beside the point to say here that the facts may be interpreted on this or that very different hypothesis. Of course they may. But that with which I am just now concerned is this hypothesis not any other. Is it not the business of a philosophical tribunal to give a full and patient hearing to every honest witness?

On this hypothesis then we must carry the matter a little further. The trouble is that in us human folk what we call our consciousness is terribly complex—so many psychical events are passing many of them abreast in so closely integrated a system affording not only additive resultants through summation of constituent notes but the emergent character that has been likened to a chord. We must try in analytic abstraction to fix attention on some one constituent note without losing sight of the truth that it gets its harmonic value through its relations to other notes in the chord of consciousness. Each constituent note which we may call with Huxley a psychosis (in a sense of the word now rather out of fashion) involves some neural process or neurosis. The continuance of this neural process (the stress is on “process” as a specific manner of go at some given time and at some localisable place in the organism say in the occipital cortex of the brain) is the physiological correlate of primary retention in consciousness. It begins and ends. Before it began it was not; after it ends it is not. But it may also wax; it need not suddenly begin full swing though I think the waxing is for the most part negligible. Pretty certainly it wanes and fades away gradually into quiescence. I think I feel this waning as I listen to speech or to music. If conscious enjoyment be correlated with waning neurosis it must itself wane as the neural process passes towards quiescence. In other words during its normal course through the field of primary retention any given psychosis both in its aspect of minding and in that of what is minded becomes attenuated so to speak ere it ceases to exist. Is this attenuation this fading this waning (however we name it) specifically experienced? I can only speak for myself but I feel quite sure that it is. There is I believe a felt quality or quale of “passingawayness.” This affords the primary mark of the past. Realise now that there are in us very many psychoses going on together at very many concurrent phases of waning; abstract so far as you can from all reflective reference to a scheme of the past much later in development; think yourself if possible into the level of development of a week-old infant or a year-old rabbit. I try to do this; and one must do something of the sort to interpret genetically. It is in some measure possible because the perceptual level is still involved when the conceptual level is reached. I can only speak as I find. That is just what my perceptual consciousness so far as I can dig down to it feels like.
Consider now psychical againness. This implies revival and not primary retention only. Now revival is reinstatement from within of some neurosis and psychosis as process similar to that which has occurred before primarily under sensory presentation. Take some familiar episode: and take it perceptually stripped of all reflective embroidery. There is practice-firing in the gunboat out at sea. Under rapid light transmission there is renewal of a visual process; there is revival of a re-presentative auditory process (say a1): there follows renewal of a like auditory process (say a) when the more slowly transmitted sound-vibrations stimulate the ear some seconds later. If the psychosis a1 re-presented feel different from a in sensory stimulation (and to me it does feel different); and if a normally in such episodes is sequent on a1; there arises as I think a specific qualification of the re-presentative a1 which may be called a feeling of “comingness.” Again I can only speak for myself. I'm pretty sure that on such an occasion it is there. I feel the boom of the gun coming ere it actually comes. And this mark of the future seems to afford a genetic basis in naïve perception on which expectancy and anticipation are founded.
Thus in the concurrence in varying phase and in close integration of many unreflective psychoses there are analytically distinguishable specific qualifications or qualia of againness of passingawayness and of comingness. They attach to both mental aspects—to the -ing and to the -ed. Note that againness is a character of certain presentations in full swing; that passingawayness characterises the fading presentation; but that comingness attaches to a re-presentation which forestalls a like presentation and therefore implies prior experience of normal routine. They are quite distinctively characters within the emergent quality of consciousness and enter into composition only when this level of evolutionary advance is reached. But they involve physiological and physico-chemical processes on the planes of life and of matter; and they cannot adequately be interpreted under emergent evolution if these be not taken into consideration.
Mr. Alexander's interpretation is quite different. When we speak of memory we may mean remembering just as when we speak of expectation we may mean expecting. This is universally admitted to be mental. But what is remembered (or expected) is not universally so regarded. Mr. Alexander says that it is non-mental. And when this or that is remembered or expected “experience declares the memory to have the mark of the past on its forehead and the expected the mark of the future” (S. T. D. I. p. 117). I take this to mean that the event past or future with which a mind may chance to be together or as Mr. Alexander says “compresent” bears this or that mark quite irrespectively of its being remembered or expected. We do not put the mark on its forehead; we find it there; and it is the non-mental mark that makes the difference between remembering and expecting the event which bears it.
Nay more. When I recall some episode of my past life there seems to be revival not only of what I then experienced objectively but also of the experiencing. Recalling here and now the view from the Matterhorn I feel again how it impressed me. I am a young man in revival tingling with the climb. Is this experiencing now or then? Mr. Alexander says: Both. One is of course experiencing now in just that fashion in which one is now experiencing. That might go without saying. But that is not all. Within one's total enjoyment one is also experiencing then not only in the time being but in the mental time which as Mr. Alexander puts it flows back to its former place. “A tract of brain may be occupied either by a present or a past enjoyment” (p. 130). This does not go even with much persuasive saying. But it is Mr. Alexander's affair not mine. For me the past is no more; the future is not yet; and their marks characterise now-events affording data for reference to a conceptual scheme of the past and the future no less present in mind. Then and not till then can one speak of a date. Mr. Alexander's interpretation and mine illustrate once more a crucial parting of the ways.
§ XXVII. Disparate Orders of Being.
It need hardly be said that the interpretation of memory that I accept differs toto coelo from that which is so brilliantly advocated by M. Bergson.
According to emergent evolution as I seek to develop its thesis there is an ascending hierarchy of kinds or orders of relatedness ranging from those that obtain in the atom in the molecule in the crystal and so on near the base of the pyramid to that of an order of reflective consciousness near the apex. That is one hypothesis. But one must not be blind to others. It is quite open to the constructive philosopher to contend that each and all of these orders of relatedness should be explained by an insertion of a new order of directive Activity into the pre-existing course of events within the pyramid. If it be asked whence in each case it comes the sufficient reply on this constructive hypothesis might well be: From the realm of being appropriate to the existence of the order in question.
I do not know that anyone has entertained this hypothesis in just this form. But those who speak of the forces which “operate” in determining the course of events seem to have something of this sort in mind. And it might be urged that each belongs to its own order of being—atomicity and molecularity no less than vitality and mentality.
For M. Bergson there are just two orders of being—broadly speaking that of matter and that of memory. Subject to correction my reading of his method is briefly as follows. A survey of that which is given in and for our experience reveals a number of rather drastic antitheses in some way subtly combined. Starting from their “solidary” union as given in concrete fact he follows each up to its ideal limit and at this limit he hypostatises an order of being wherein this or that of the antitheses is as he phrases it pure.
Where there is concrete cognition minding and what is minded unite in solidarity. In the former one is conscious under primary intuition; of the latter one becomes fully conscious as that which is the object of intellectual regard. The intellect gives an outer revelation of matter; intuition is the pulse of life as it throbs and in throbbing is felt; and life is of the order of mind. Now it is the organism in action that is at the “intersection” of the two diverse orders of being. Here is the focus of solidarity. Here is the meeting ground of antitheses. Here memory of the one order glows to specific consciousness in choice; here the automatism of the other order itself the embodied product of memory is guided to finer issues. Here the freedom of the one order overcomes the rigid determinism of the other. Here quality of the one order meets with quantity of the other. Here time (duration) of the one order comes into relation with space of the other. Here the flow of the one order is in vivid contrast with the stark immobility of the other. Here the dynamic impulse of the one order quickens the inertness of the other. Here process change progress-all that characterises life-is felt on the one hand while on the other is seen in static immobility their negative antithesis. Here in brief memory of the one order is revealed as a kind of being that is in all essential respects the incommensurable opposite to matter of the other. Such is the outcome of hypostatising limiting concepts. May we not admit that this constructive hypothesis is much more picturesque and fascinating than ours?
Come now to some further application of the hypothesis. We must realise that memory gathers up and garners in its progress all records of its past activity. As memory it is the register which retains all memories “by the mere necessity of its own nature” (M. M. p. 92). But retention though it may prolong a tendency cannot initiate a change. Hence we must realise that it is mind as vital impulse that is the efficient cause of all organic process and of all behaviour. Mind is consciousness; but it takes or may take the form of individually conscious glow just when it is acting on or into or through the organism which is the instrument it has progressively fashioned for its use. The connection of this conscious glow with the physiological processes in the brain is thus readily explicable. “Everything” as M. Bergson says “seems to happen as if consciousness sprang from the brain” (C. E. p. 276 cf. M. M. p. 35). But everything does happen he believes because these physiological processes are the expression of the operation of the vital impulse which acts through the brain and glows as it does so.
One is forced to have recourse to metaphor. Mind during its passage as efficient in action not only indwells but envelops surrounds or overflows the organism after a fashion all its own-a fashion we cannot adequately describe since what happens is unique. And “the substance or rather the content” of mind is memory. Herein all we have perceived thought willed from the first awakening of our personal consciousness persists indefinitely. It is preserved even in its minutest details. Nothing is forgotten. But “the memories which are preserved in these obscure depths are for us in a state of invisible phantoms” (M. E. p. 94).
Furthermore as Professor Wildon Carr says in his able advocacy of M. Bergson's doctrine “We see in a living creature the preservation and activity of an illimitable past” (P. C. p. 178). Not only does this carry with it albeit for the most part unconsciously “personal memory-images which picture all past events with their outline their colour and their place in time in the order of their occurrence” (p. 118) but “in the germ the past experience of the race is gathered up and exists” (p. 172). It is however in the vital impulse which acts through the germ that the garnered legacy of the past is preserved. For if it be impossible to suppose that in our own lives memory is carried along by us in our body it is far more incredible that the memory manifested in organic evolution is preserved in the substance of protoplasm (p. 157).
On the hypothesis then that mind is a disparate order of being M. Bergson reaches the conclusion that “all the facts and all the analogies are in favour of a theory which... considers memory itself as absolutely independent of matter” (M. M. p. 232).
§ XXVIII. Images at the Level of Pure Perception.
A crucial question for any philosophy is: How shall we interpret the problem of cognition? M. Bergson in large measure deals with it under his doctrine of images. He teaches that what he calls pure perception leads us into the very heart of the order of matter; that recollection which is pure memory is at the very heart of the order of mind; and that the cognitive relation is at the focus of solidarity in concrete perception where the two orders may be said to intersect.
In perception as I have used the word there is (a) something given in presentation (the sensory nucleus) together with (b) something else revived in re-presentation. This (ab) is what is minded under perception; correlative to it is the process or act of perceiving. We cannot separate-we can only distinguish under analysis-the one from the other. In what we commonly speak of as the object of perception the sensory nucleus (a) is interpreted as due to the stimulation of sensory receptors by some physical influence from the thing itself. But where the sensory nucleus given in presentation is not due to any stimulation from the thing itself but involves let us say a receptor pattern due to its name seen or heard we commonly speak of having an image of the object of which the name is a sign. Of course it is not only under the presentation of a name that images arise. If we use the word “pattern” in a sense that is not restricted to a spatial pattern but includes also quality-patterns-e.g. that of a chord or that of chocolate-the percept implies nuclear stimulation of receptors on the plane of life; the like pattern of an image does not imply actual stimulation then and there. It is centrally and not peripherally initiated. But on the perceptual plane it does imply (i) precedent stimulation of such a receptor-pattern and (ii) some other pattern actually stimulated. For example the chocolate taste-image in the child is a revival due to sight-stimulation. To put the matter more technically; an actual quality-pattern of taste peripherally initiated gives rise to an “engram” in the central nervous system and the correlate of this engram and that which it involves is the percept. If a like engram be excited by an allied engram within the central nervous system its correlate is an image.
On this usage of the word an image is wholly re-presentative-a matter of revival. And on the hypothesis above outlined the image as such is not retained; only the organic conditions involved in its coming into being are retained-subject of course to correlation. Such in brief is our hypothesis.
This meaning of the word “image” must be distinguished from that which M. Bergson bids us understand at any rate at the outset of his discussion-and this is our present concern. In this usage of the word the material world around us is a world of images. And he tells us that any such image is more than what the idealist calls a representation but less than what the realist calls a thing (M. M. p. vii.). It must be remembered that the word “representation” is here used as inclusive of what I have called presentation and indeed in the present context is for the most part the objective presentation to sense. On this understanding it is M. Bergson's aim to show that matter is an aggregate of images. But we reach out to it through perception. As “a perception” (i.e. that which is perceived) an image is a veritable part of the thing itself; still qua part it is less than that which the realist calls the thing. But much of the thing itself may be without being perceived (p. 27). Hence the aggregate of images which is its “matter” is more than the actual representation with which the idealist deals.
M. Bergson whose thesis is an interesting variant of phenomenalism distinguishes between a “virtual” world of images-the world that is-from the actual images that are being perceived by some conscious being who is thereby raised to the status of a “privileged image”-one that is at the focus of intersection of matter and memory. His virtual images answer I think to the sensibilia of some authors and to the “sensible qualities” of Mr. Stout. Might one say that the distinction is between images in posse as perceptible and images in esse as actually perceived by someone?
The material world then is a system of virtual images comprising far more than is given in actual perception. How then can we interpret the passage from the more to the less? Clearly the images existentially present in the world of matter are compelled to abandon something of themselves in order to become representations. And the distance between “presence” and “representation” seems just to measure the interval between matter and our conscious perception of matter (M. M. p. 27). None the less the image as perceived-the perception-is not other than an image existentially or virtually present as part of the material thing itself. It is only a selected part of the wider whole.
But how selected? One must consult Matter and Memory for the answer to this question. If I rightly follow the subtlety of M. Bergson's treatment one must combine a concept derived from the physical reflection which gives an optical image with that of the response of an organism in behaviour. There is some play on the word “reflection.” A mirror suitably adjusted reflects an image back on to the source from which radiant influence comes. It gives back pretty much what it takes. But what it gives back is a selection from the total radiant effluence from the source. And only when suitably adjusted does it give back pretty much what it receives. Placed at other angles it does not give back but gives away. The stress however soon passes from the reflection of an optical image to the response of the organism in behaviour. Here is something quite in line with M. Bergson's reiterated emphasis on the supreme importance of action. When this comes well into view we may say that the organism reacts to the image: one may say that this reaction is a reflection of movement received back on to the image from which the influence comes; and one may say that through reflection there is selection of just that image which subserves behaviour. But the thing which both receives and reflects is itself an image. In so far however as it is a focus of intersection of mind and matter it is a “privileged image.” Such are we. There is not only “a perception”; there is also perceiving. In concrete perception there flow in memory-images of the order of mind. But to get at the matter-image here under discussion we must in theory abstract from this though it is always there in concrete fact. We must take pure perception at its ideal limit.
Conceive an instantaneous snapshot of a momentary phase of such reflection and reaction as has been outlined. That gives pure perception in which the matter-image is isolated as such. “Perception in its pure state is thus in very truth a part of things” (p. 68). It is (1) a matter-image (2) as selected through reflecting reaction and (3) as a vision of matter which is both immediate and instantaneous. But qua vision of matter it is a representation. And a quasi-cognitive relation emptied of all concrete cognition which implies memory slips in. There is not only the pure perception as matter-image; there is an isolated element in pure perceiving. There is an instantaneous factor in “the act constituting pure perception [which must here mean pure perceiving] whereby we place ourselves in the very heart of things” (p. 73).
I confess that I am “embrangled in difficulties” which in part at least centre round the application of the word “image” to that which is said to be constitutive of things as they verily are-even if it be what M. Bergson speaks of as “a concession to idealism.” Fully admitting the charm of M. Bergson's brilliant treatment admitting too that a familiar story can be told with seemingly unifying effect in these unfamiliar terms I think it questionable whether the concept of matter-images as I have ventured to call them tends to clarify the cardinal issue in the complex problem of cognition. In any case it seems to be a variant of phenomenalism.
§ XXIX. Concrete Perception.
Pure perception considered in abstraction is that factor in concrete perception which may be analytically distinguished from the memory-factor; and the factors thus distinguished lead to the limiting concepts of disparate orders of being. As we have seen the snapshot of pure perception affords a momentary vision of a veritable part of the material universe. Now a vision even if it be immediate and instantaneous may seem to imply a person for whom it is such a vision. And no doubt concrete perception does imply such a person. But personality involves memory in duration; and this is just what we have thus far been bidden to exclude in distinguishing analysis. Hence pure perception as such is a wholly impersonal vision. None the less it is a perception that a consciousness would have if it were supposed to be ripe and full-grown yet confined to the present and absorbed to the exclusion of all else in the task of moulding itself upon the external object. (p. 24).
Empty this pure perception of its discrete snapshottiness as necessarily instantaneous and it differs little from what I have spoken of as presentation to sense in that it affords the sensory nucleus of what we call a percept. But our presentation no less than pure perception is considered in abstraction from contributory re-presentative factors due to revival. Apart then from the interpretation I accept let us now in further reference to M. Bergson's thesis restore to memory hitherto banished “in theory” its rightful place in perception no longer pure and immobile but living and concrete. For there is no pure perception in actual fact; and there is no concrete perception which is strictly instantaneous. Memory in duration always cooperates as a concurrent factor in a process which is continuous and for M. Bergson presupposes the fluent activity of la durée. If then we realise the duration of consciousness we can readily understand that on the continuous string of memory there are threaded an uninterrupted series of instantaneous visions which as snapshots are a part of things rather than of ourselves (p. 69). Furthermore the vision selected through action reflects in concrete fact the indetermination of the will-our free choice; and this choice of reaction cannot be the work of chance. “Now a choice involves the anticipatory idea of several possible actions. Possibilities of action must therefore be marked out before the action itself. Visual perception is nothing else than this” (C. E. p. 102).
Incidentally one may note a seeming difficulty here. In pure perception the image is marked out and selected through action; and true action is genuinely new and unpredictable; but here we are told that possibilities of action are marked out before the action itself. That however need not give us pause. Just now the chief point is that perception is no longer pure but rendered concrete by the influx of what memory has stored in duration. For choice is we are told likely to be inspired by past experience and the concrete reaction does not take place without an appeal to the memories which analogous situations have left behind them. The indetermination of acts to be accomplished requires therefore if it is not to be confounded with pure caprice “the preservation of the images perceived.” “We assert then” says M. Bergson “that if there be memory that is the survival of past images these images must constantly mingle with our perception of the present and may even take its place” (M. M. p. 70).
We have here what seems to be the most puzzling transformation scene in M. Bergson's treatment of perception; but I have some misgiving lest there be some link in the argument which I have unwittingly missed. In the foregoing section I sought to grapple with his doctrine of images in one sense of the word. How do we now stand? We have in some measure grasped that the world of material things is a system of images and that an image as purely perceived differs only from the rest of the world of images as the part differs from the whole. Thus far all goes passably well. But now we are told of the preservation of the images perceived and are faced by the assertion that memory is the survival of past images. My armchair is an image in the world of material things; my perception (pure) is part of that very chair-just the part of the world that on some occasion interests me and the part wherein in action I seat myself. Is it the image in this sense or in either of these senses that is preserved in memory? Such images are we are told veritable parts of matter. Can it be in this sense that there is in memory a survival of all the images that the instantaneous snapshots of pure perception have afforded in the course of my life? If memory be the survival of images and if memory be as we are informed “a power absolutely independent of matter”; then one would suppose the images preserved in memory must be irretrievably different from the matter-images of things or of pure perception. The two kinds are incommensurable. Why then call them by the same name?
In any case when the memory-image is introduced as it must be in concrete perception the impersonal vision is linked up with the personality which is a function of duration. It is no longer a vision but mine. In other words the pure perception “alloyed” as M. Bergson says “with affection” becomes subjective in virtue of memory. For the subjectivity of our perception consists above all in the share taken by memory. “It is memory above all that lends to perception its subjective character” (p. 80). And if we turn from the pure perception as a partial image of matter to the process of perceiving-as M. Bergson so often does without warning-then we shall realise that perceiving and remembering though distinguishable under analysis are nowise separable. As M. Bergson expresses it they “interpenetrate” within the oneness of mind. “The two acts [note here acts] perception and recollection always interpenetrate each other are always exchanging something of their character as by a process of end osmosis” (p. 72). Yes. As-ing-processes they are in pari materia. But can a pure perception as a veritable part of things interpenetrate with memory which is veritably the flow of duration? And if “it is not only a difference of degree that separates perception from affection but a difference in kind” (p. 57) can we speak of “an alloy” of entities which are said to be different in kind? The expression “difference in kind” however needs further elucidation. And it may be said that M. Bergson's “affection” (sometimes “sensation” sometimes “affective sensation”) is no less material than is his pure perception. It is bodily affection not mental. As he puts it: “We might say metaphorically that while perception measures the reflecting power of the body affection measures its [note ‘its’] power to absorb” (p. 57). None the less: “In this interiority of affective sensation consists its subjectivity” (p. 311).
§ XXX. Memory Images and Recollection.
It is memory that makes our consciousness what it is as personal and subjective. And if we could “eliminate all memory we should pass thereby from perception to matter from the subject to the object” (p. 77). But surely only if we make play with the convenient ambiguity of the word “perception.” For as what is purely perceived there is no need to pass from perception to matter since it is matter; and as perceiving it is duration and this cannot pass into matter. That would be to pass from fluent change to stagnant rest; and these for M. Bergson are antithetical contradictories. He is however well satisfied with the outcome. “We leave” he says “to matter those qualities which materialists and spiritualists alike strip from it: the latter that they may make of them representations of the spirit the former that they may regard them only as the accidental garb of space” (p. 80).
I suggested above that the memory-image and the matter-image of pure perception are incommensurable. It is with the former that we are now chiefly concerned. But we have to distinguish two types of memories. The first may be called a condensation-image; the second pure recollection. Let us now take the first. Pure perception is a matter-image say my armchair. But this matter-image condenses on its surface just that which as pertinent to action can be drawn from the stores of memory in duration. And this condensation is a memory-image. Both what as I should say is presented in pure perception and that which condenses thereon-which is as I should say represented-have a common function in subservience to action. Furthermore as development proceeds the armchair as presentative nucleus may be replaced let us say by its name and around that memory-images may condense and in condensation become materialised or as is commonly said embodied. All imagination in one and that a quite valid sense is embodiment; that is where it differs from conception. “Literature” as Mr. Russell finely says “embodies what is general in particular circumstances whose universal significance shines through their individual dress” (P. E. p. 74). So too in art. Mr. Luke Fildes embodied in his picture “The Doctor” his conception of ministry and much else. And my reader may have a memory-image of that picture condensed in revival through my words. This is what we may call “common form” in current discussion of such matters. There is nothing here that is peculiarly distinctive in M. Bergson's treatment save in so far as he links up all this with his philosophy in consummate artistry.
But whence come these condensed memory-images? From pure recollection held in mind as duration. M. Bergson says that “memory is just the intersection of mind and matter” (p. xii). But elsewhere it appears that it is the memory-image that condenses at the point of intersection. Whence does it so condense? From pure memory which is as we are told again and again not only at the intersection-focus. Now one might have expected that memory-images so to speak crystallise out on given nuclei from solution in pure memory-from that “duration wherein our states melt into each other” (p. 243). But that is not so as one gathers from many passages. They are already crystallised in duration. At any rate they are very often spoken of as if they were pure and clear-cut memory-crystals. They seem to be already images existent as such prior to condensation. “Memory chooses among recollections certain images rather than others” (p. 322). Here it is memory that chooses the memories (recollections) for condensation as memory-images at the focus of intersection. Elsewhere it is consciousness in a more or less high state of “tension” that “goes to fetch pure recollections in pure memory in order to materialise them progressively by contact with the present perception” (p. 3 17). “Memory actualised in an image differs then profoundly from pure memory. The image is a present state and its sole share in the past is the memory whence it arose” (p. 181). Might one not gather from this that merging interpenetration reaches in pure memory an ideal limit-that in pure memory there is pure solution and not pure crystals of recollection? But turn to other passages. “True memory co-extensive with consciousness retains and ranges alongside 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 habit] in an ever renewed present” (p. 195). Surely what Mr. Carr speaks of as “personal memory-images” which picture all past events in their outline their colour and their place in time imply in the language of metaphor pure crystals and not pure merging solution. Can one say of merging solution that “all the events of our past lives are set out in their smallest details” (p. 218).
One would have thought that the use of the plural-(“recollections”)-would be inadmissible in reference to pure memory if this be characterised through and through by interpenetration; and that the antithesis would be between pure recollection-nowise cut up into distinguishable parts-and condensation images which are rendered discrete through their contact with matter under embodiment. And this may be at bottom M. Bergson's cardinal position. But if so many passages which imply retention of images as such must be read as not really meaning what they seem to say. For if “the memories which are preserved in these obscure depths are for us in a state of invisible phantoms” it seems as if they were crystal phantoms rather than a phantom solution. And if they be genuinely interpenetrating in pure solution to speak of the retention of memory-images must be regarded as merely a concession to current modes of speech and in strictness on M. Bergson's own principles quite inaccurate.
Now let us see how we stand. Either in merging solution or as recollection-crystals-one or other-pure memory retains in a past which is still existent all that has happened to me and to my remotest ancestors. This however does not account for anything new; since memory though it can prolong a tendency cannot initiate a change. It affords only that out of which something new can be fashioned. What then fashions? It is mind which is also life that fashions. And what “fetches” that which is so fashioned? It is life or mind that fetches. Here we have in outline the salient features of the whole comprehensive scheme. Mind as pure memory retains; mind (sometimes memory) fetches that which is so retained and moulds it to some matter-image; mind fashions into something genuinely new that which is so fetched and so moulded. On this hypothesis one may admit all the facts can be interpreted. It looks as if mind retains and fetches and so moulds as to give the emergently new. But what evidence is there that mind retains either in solution or as crystal-images-retains too in a past still existent in time (duration)-all that has happened to me and to my remotest ancestors? Can one find any reply save that it must be so if this hypothesis is to work? All that we-nous autres-ask is that a different hypothesis should be tried out on its merits. On that hypothesis there is no still-existent past which retains memory-images in such fashion as M. Bergson postulates.
There is here of course no suggestion that in what I may call departmental work a specialist should be precluded from provisionally accepting for his specific purpose that “as if” which best subserves the end he has in view. In discussing The Problem of Style Mr. Middleton Murry is fully justified in writing as if imagery were stored at call in the mind of the man of letters. Any other treatment in the field of literature would be intolerable. The specialist in psycho-therapy too is as I think quite free (under due safeguards) to deal with images as if they were retained in mind as such. But when either one or the other says that what he postulates for departmental purposes must be accepted as the settled verdict of philosophy he takes up a wholly different position. Now M. Bergson writes not as a departmentalist but as a philosopher and as such he would I take it wish to be judged.
One must remember however that on his own principles M. Bergson has the very difficult task of expressing in logically discrete terms the fluency of logical process in merging duration. What was said above on “crystal recollections” is it may be urged wholly beside the mark. For of course “all the events of our past lives” as “set out in their smallest details” cannot be said of merging solution or duration. But how else can one express the inexpressible? What M. Bergson is doing his best with the only tools at his command to help us to feel through intuition in synthesis is that mergency which can only be very inadequately described in the chopped-up terms of the abstract and analytic speech which the intellect has devised for practical purposes and in such wise as to turn our regard away from the fluency of fact as it really is within the order of duration. This opens up a problem the consideration of which must be reserved for its place in the second course of lectures. We may there find that mergent interpenetration is true in respect of minding which is thus and nowise else “enjoyed” as we say or as M. Bergson says “known”; but that what is minded is partial and discrete since that is the nature of the non-mental which we acknowledge and on which the minded is initially moulded. For us then discrete parts and “chopped-upness” is not a falsification by the intellect either in common-sense treatment or in logic but just as much rooted in the nature of things as mergency is rooted in the nature of enjoyment.
Reverting now to the vexed question of the storage of memories may I here parenthetically comment on the futility of adducing as evidence of this or that interpretation of retention and revival a statement of the facts which have in some way to be interpreted? It is sometimes said that if only one were less culpably ignorant of psycho-analytic revelations one's views of the whole matter would be profoundly modified. But quite obviously all the facts so long as they be facts must be taken into consideration and given their full weight. Of course they are part of the evidence-but evidence of what? Of this or that constructive hypothesis? Not so. Of this or that array of facts for the interpretation of which some such hypothesis must be suggested. No doubt the easiest course is to suggest that nothing is forgotten; that everything is retained. Then the question is: How does “memory” fetch just that which will subserve some present purpose? How does it select from the full store of “memories” those which have some utility or value for the conduct of life? That it does so select is part of the hypothesis. Given then a store of all racial and individual memory-images in the mind which has made and uses the body of any organism-oak-tree or man-and given the capacity of selecting therefrom that which is at any moment ad rem-the hypothesis is bound to work. In that sense it is a supposal that fits the facts. And this may be-pragmatists assure us that it is-the only criterion of the truth of the supposal. But there are other supposals which claim to fit the facts. How then is one to decide which is true? The question may be unanswerable. But this I think one may say: that the supposal for any given thinker must fit not only the facts but the philosophic creed. Even here the trouble is that the “facts” are almost inevitably conceptualised in the reflected light of the creed. So at bottom the alternative seems to be this creed or that. Hence each of us must say all that he can in favour of the creed which he has been led to accept.
In conclusion let me try to put the views that may be held with regard to the status of images in a rather different way.
First with regard to my own position-as part of my philosophic creed. Images are re-presentative. They are objectively minded. As such they only exist as complementary to a process of minding. Of minding I shall assume the only unimpeachable evidence that we have is the felt enjoyment thereof. Memory-images are therefore only in being when they are actually minded (remembered) by someone minding (remembering). Now when this or that is presented to sense there is advenient influence from some acknowledged physical thing to which as its effluent source the presentation is referred. But when this or that is re-presented in the absence of presentation of the thing there is then no such advenient influence. It is a revival from within the organism. It may however be projiciently referred to its specific place and projectively referred to a time within the revived situation as a whole; and under reflective contemplation it and its situation may be referred to a spatio-temporal frame or scheme. The gist of the contention is: Nothing is objectively minded under imagery in the absence of an actual and current process of minding; the image therefore that is not minded does not exist. Hence there is no storage of memory-images that are not being remembered.
Secondly M. Bergson's contention is or from many passages seems to be that memories are so stored. In any case that seems to be a view that is widely accepted by believers in the “new psychology” but in their case I think rather as a policy than as a creed.
Thirdly it may be contended that in accordance with one form of new-realism we must acknowledge with Mr. Alexander the continued non-mental existence of images in a past that has not ceased to be though it has of course ceased to be present. The mind it is said is “compresent” with these images just as it is “compresent” with things that are now existent. All that it has to do is to apprehend them in suitable fashion.
Furthermore it may be contended in accordance with the modern doctrine of relativity that all talk of time as if there were “a time” for unambiguous reference is hopelessly out of date-a relic of “classical” treatment. We should speak now of “local times” (cf. Russell A. M. p. 128). There is thus no reason why an image should not act causally (under “mnemic causation” cf. § XLVII.) out of what old-fashioned folk are pleased to call the past. I find some difficulty in applying this modern concept to the very definite memory-image of a pond into which I fell some sixty-three years ago-one that generally comes at the bidding of the scent of violets with which the old garden in Hornsey was then redolent. But as will be seen later on my interpretation of “local times” under projective appearance is such as to lead me to regard as invalid the relativist argument and the hypothesis of mnemic causation.
What bearing if any has any hypothesis of the status of images on the dependence of all things-images included-on God? I have little to say; and that little scarcely more than a repetition of what has already been said.
If images be survivals or revivals of that which has been in some way given in prior experience they must be considered sub specie temporis. But if God subsist sub specie aeternitatis-if here the universal present tense be alone applicable-can we properly speak in this connection of the origin of images under past conditions or of their value for the guidance of future action? At the level of reflective thought in us a plan of action precedes execution in action. Cognitive regard of the intellectual order and volition as in modern phrase conative are implied. Does any such implication hold in what we may anthropomorphically speak of as the eternal wisdom of God? Spinoza thought not and therefore denied that in Him there is intellect or volition. To many good people this seems to be outrageous and to savour of what they may deem the disguised atheism of Spinoza. But before they pronounce a damnatory verdict they should carefully weigh all that may be said for the defence. No one who is a defendant in this cause is likely to deny that intellect and volition are manifestations or expressions dependent on God or that their instances exist in time i.e. that they imply temporal terms in the relations of before and after. The question at issue is whether (as we may put it) under the doctrine of ultimate dependence on God the plan of emergent evolution preceded the progressive advance of events admittedly incomplete and developing within a space-time frame of ideal construction but referable to our world. Difficult as may be the concept embalmed in the phrase sub specie aeternitatis there should surely be nothing to offend the most delicate susceptibilities in contending that the question whether the plan precedes the execution has really no locus standi. If by the word “eternal” we mean timeless for God the plan and execution just is one and indivisible.

From the book: