Henri  Bergson

Defending a clear anti-reductionist position, he considered memory to be of a deeply spiritual nature; the brain serving the need of orienting present action by inserting relevant memories.

Consciousness means, invariably, delaying reaction to stimuli, the interval accompanied by the conscious awareness that the spirit is anchored within the past. One becomes conscious while being anchored in the past, in light of the past, in view of appropriate action directed towards the immediate future. The articulation of time – past, present, future – finds place through the union of spirit and body. The more the spirit descends into the past, the more one becomes conscious. The more one acts automatically, the more one exists in the present, in the temporal domain of the body. And one always stays within one domain or the other. True awareness necessitates the united action of body and spirit. According to Bergson, the “impulsive person” suspends his consciousness and stays within the unreflective domain of automatism.

Bergson starts with a hypothesis that all we sense are images. Now we can see the basis of Bergson’s use of images in his method of intuition. He is re-stating the problem of perception in terms of images because it seems to be an intermediate position between realism and idealism (Matter and Memory, p. 26).

In the opening pages of “Introduction to Metaphysics,” he calls intuition sympathy (The Creative Mind, p. 159). As we have seen from our discussion of multiplicity in Time and Free Will, sympathy consists in putting ourselves in the place of others. Bergsonian intuition then consists in entering into the thing, rather than going around it from the outside. This “entering into,” for Bergson, gives us absolute knowledge. In a moment, we are going to have to qualify this “absoluteness.” In any case, for Bergson, intuition is entering into ourselves – he says we seize ourselves from within – but this self-sympathy develops heterogeneously into others. In other words, when one sympathizes with oneself, one installs oneself within duration and then feels a “certain well defined tension, whose very determinateness seems like a choice between an infinity of possible durations” (The Creative Mind, p. 185)