By David Kreps
This can be a publication approximately evolution from a post-Darwinian point of view. It recounts the middle rules of French thinker Henri Bergson and his rediscovery and legacy within the poststructuralist serious philosophies of the Sixties, and explores the confluences of those principles with these of complexity thought in environmental biology.
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Additional resources for Bergson, Complexity and Creative Emergence
That which is qualitative – conscious – is, for Bergson, by nature not susceptible to measure. Measure is proper only to that which is spatial: that is quantitative. To suggest, furthermore, that one Bergson’s Core Ideas 27 could measure intensive states by the ‘measurable causes which have given rise’ to them, he shows is equally untenable, in practice, and obviously impossible with respect to deep-seated conscious phenomena which have arisen within us and not in response to anything outside, and are therefore as immeasurable as their effects.
He contends that previous philosophical approaches to this problem have mostly proposed some vague thesis of union between the two, without ever being particularly precise. Ideas current in Bergson’s era, then, he tells us fall into two categories: epiphenomenalism and parallelism. The first – still perhaps the default position of scientific realism and most neuroscience to this day60 – suggests that thought is a function of the brain, that consciousness is somehow an epiphenomenon of the brain, a non-functional supplement that is caused by brain events but has no causal effect upon brain events.
Taking the example of a flock of sheep – and enjoining us to count, say, 50 of them – he notes how we can only say that there are 50 sheep if we ignore their individual differences. Yet, of course, they must remain different from one another, or else they would merge into one single sheep. Even if they were all identical, they would at least differ in being at separate places in the field. Set aside the actual sheep, and concentrate 32 Bergson, Complexity and Creative Emergence just on the abstract idea of 50, and we can only conceive of 50 when there are 50 somethings set side by side – in space.
Bergson, Complexity and Creative Emergence by David Kreps