“The evolution of life in the double direction of individuality and association has nothing accidental about it: it is due to the very nature of life.”
“Essential also is the progress to reflection. If our analysis is correct, it is consciousness, or rather supra-consciousness, that is at the origin of life. Consciousness, or supra-consciousness, is the name for the rocket whose extinguished fragments fall back as matter; consciousness, again, is the name for that which subsists of the rocket itself, passing through the fragments and lighting them up into organisms.”
“The effort we make to transcend pure understanding introduces us into that more vast something out of which our understanding is cut, and from which it has detached itself. And, as matter is determined by intelligence, as there is between them an evident agreement, we cannot make the genesis of the one without making the genesis of the other. An identical process must have cut out matter and the intellect, at the same time, from a stuff that contained both. Into this reality we shall get back more and more completely, in proportion as we compel ourselves to transcend pure intelligence.”
“On this new ground philosophy ought then to follow science, in order to superpose on scientific truth knowledge of another kind, which may be called metaphysical. Thus combined, all our knowledge, both scientific and metaphysical, is heightened. In the absolute we live and move and have our being. The knowledge we possess of it is incomplete, no doubt, but not external or relative. It is reality itself, in the profoundest meaning of the word that we reach by the combined and progressive development of science and of philosophy.”
—excerpts from “Creative Evolution,” by Henri Bergson, 1907
The world is neither simply what we perceive it to be, nor is it strictly a metaphysical mystery beyond our understanding. These two apparently opposing approaches to our understanding are, it seems to me, more correctly to be two components of the same conundrum. We tend these days to gravitate toward specialization in almost every arena of endeavor, and in doing so, we seem often to be missing the larger picture of what might be most helpful in increasing our understanding generally.
Mr. Bergson, who wrote extensively about the nature of matter and intelligence more than 100 years ago, even without the accelerated advances in knowledge we enjoy currently, correctly framed the question of how we might advance our understanding. We cannot simply focus on a narrow selection of material, intellectual, or spiritual criteria and cannot reasonably consider only one approach as sufficient to give us the broadest understanding. Mr. Bergson just wasn’t equipped enough by the technology of his day to take it further.
Today, we know more and understand better about the world in which we live, but we are still struggling to catch up on the broadest inclusion of ideas possible, and we must allow the full investigation to proceed in each of the three realms of material, intellectual, and the spiritual. It’s not possible to eliminate any reasonable approach just yet, but these three each have important components to contribute. It’s a generalization in terms of describing the issue, but we definitely need to expand our realm of possibilities to include a variety of approaches which just may support the others in some useful way.
Lots of new material is in progress here at John’s Consciousness, and I hope my visitors and readers will be patient with me as I navigate the path forward. I have been immersed in some of the most important and profound life works of my nearly 70 years of living this past year or so, and, like most of us, I feel like I just want to break out of isolation into something that truly matters. I’ve been developing a new approach to sharing my writing here, and when I am ready, I will begin to engage more fully with the content of my writings, and to share more fully the ideas which occupy my heart, mind, and soul.