Physical Events as Proto-Mental Entities. Bergson, Whitehead and Bohm

  • Milič Čapek
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 7)


Although the element of novelty differentiating two successive events of physical duration is negligible in our macroscopic perspective, it cannot be completely absent. In other words, there is an element of heterogeneityeven in the physical world. For we must remember the result of our previous analysis: if the differentiating element of novelty is due precisely to the survival of the antecedent moment within the present, then there must be an element of memory, that is, a certain degree of interpenetration of successive phases even in physical duration. Without such an element of memory there would be no duration at all. Here is the basis of Bergson’s panpsychism:

What we wish to establish is that we cannot speak of a reality that endures without inserting consciousness into it. The metaphysician will have a universal consciousness intervene directly. Common sense will vaguely ponder it. The mathematician, it is true, will not have to occupy himself with it, since he is concerned with the measurement of things, not with their nature. But… if he were to fix attention upon time itself, he would necessarily picture succession, and therefore before and after, and consequently a bridge between the two (otherwise, there would be only one of the two, a mere snapshot); but, once again, it is impossible to imagine or conceive a connecting link between the before and after without an element of memory and, consequently, of consciousness. (Italics added.)1


Physical World Modern Physic Temporal Span Natural Knowledge Simple Location 
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© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1971

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  • Milič Čapek

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