Thursday, 4 February 2016

Marcus Aurelius. The inner guide.

In life, unless you want to be miserable, you must find your way, the real reason of your existence, and not depend as a puppet of what others think, say or do. You have to have clear ideas of what you want and get away from the distractions and do not act because of hypocrisy or selfishness, believing to adapt to 'souls' of others, which in reality you do not know (probably you do not even know yours). This is the direction in which you should work, Marcus Aurelius keeps in his Meditations.  It's your soul which you must find and you should go; you must respect primarily the soul that belongs to you and not depend on the souls of others, although you also have to want to understand them, but you need to know the movements of yours first, and from these those of others. The main goal of our life is to know the real nature of our soul, and its place in the souls of other people around us.

"At all hours, deal with resolve, to do what you have in your hands with timely and sincere gravity, with love, freedom and justice, and find yourself a time to free yourself from all other distractions. And you will get your way, if you run each action as if it were the last of your life, devoid of thoughtlessness, of all passionate aversion that will keep you from realm of reason, of all hypocrisy, selfishness and despair with what it is associated with destiny. You're seeing are few principles to be mastered to live a positive life course and of respect for the gods. Because gods nothing will claim to who observes these precepts." (Meditations, II, 5)

"You affronts, you affronts, my soul! And you will not have occasion yet to honor you. Life is brief for everyone! You practically have consumed it without respect for the soul that belongs to you, and yet, you cause depend your soul of good fortune of others." (Meditations, II, 6)

"Do not external accidents crawl you; find yourself a time to learn something good and stop yet turning like a top. Henceforth you should also guard against another deviation. Because they rave too, amid so many occupations, who are tired of living and have no target toward to direct every impulse and, ultimately, their imagination." (Meditations, II, 7)

"It's hard to see a man unhappy for not having stopped to think what happens in the soul of another. But those who are not closely watching the movements of their own soul they will be necessarily unhappy." (Meditations, II, 8)

"We must always remember this: what is the nature of the whole and what is mine, and how it behaves compared to that and what part of what set it is; keep in mind also that nobody prevents you to do and to say what is consistent with the nature, of which you are part." (Meditations, II, 9)

We are part of nature, which, contrary to what we usually think (and to what 'books say'), is very simple: We are just flesh, breath of life and inner guide. These are the three components.
Blood, bones and tissues, which in themselves are inert matter. The breath of life is what gives them life, it is the 'wind' that moves them, which is always changing because, at every breath, the life-giving air is never the same. The inner guide is consciousness and intelligence, and it is above all, but must strive to not be swayed by the movements caused by the breath in the flesh (the instincts), and to accept the smallness of life, if one aspires to live with some freedom and happiness.

"That's all I am. Some flesh, a brief breath of life, and the inner guidance. Leave the books! Do not let yourself be distracted; it is not allowed to you. But in the idea that you are already a dying, despise the flesh: blood and dust, bones, nervous tissue, tiny veins and arteries. See also what the breath of life is: wind, and not always the same, as in all times it is vomited and sucked again. Thirdly, then, you have the inner guidance. Ponder this: you're old, do not let any longer it to be a slave, nor still following being shacked as a puppet by selfish instincts, nor that it still gets angry with present destiny nor be wary of future." (Meditations, II, 2)

Our nature is nature as any other. It is pure nature. And it becomes flowing from a common origin with the whole universe, with the transformations of the elements of both simple and compounds. Neither fortune not even our will will be separated from it at all.

"The works of the gods are full of providence, the Fortune ones are not separated from nature or from weft and interlacing of things governed by Providence. From there flows all. Necessary and convenient for the whole universe is added, from which you are part. To any part of nature is good what works with the nature of the whole and what can to preserve it. And both transformations of simple elements like compounds they kept the world. These reflections are enough for you, if they are basic principles. Put away your thirst for books, to not die growling, but truly resigned and grateful to the gods." (Meditations, II, 3)

"Remember how long you differ this and how many times you have received advanced notices of the gods and you have not used them. It is necessary that from this moment you realize what world you are part and what ruler of the world you proceed as an emanation, and you will understand that your life is confined to a limited period of time." (Meditations, II, 4)

In short, what we need is to be smart. Knowledge of the nature, of our own nature (and that of the gods, who are also part of it), is the inner guidance, is what allows us to understand ourselves and be consistent with the rest of nature. Anything else is miss our way. Going against nature, in the best case, is a waste of time. And Aurelius especially highlights a very important "detail" in relation to time: nature acts in the present, our life becomes exclusively in the fleeting moment of the present. The past has been lived yet and nothing can be done with it, and no one knows the future. We cannot be controlled by them, then. The reality is purely present.

"Venerate the intellectual faculty. In it resides all, because never exists in your inner guidance an opinion inconsistent with the nature and with the disposition of rational being. It really guarantees the absence of precipitation, the familiarity with men and the compliance with the gods." (Meditations, III, 9)

"Reject, therefore, everything else and retain only a few precepts. And keep in mind that each one lives only the present, the fleeting instant. The rest, or has been lived or is uncertain; the life of each one, therefore, is insignificant, and also is insignificant the little corner of the earth where he lives." (Meditations, III, 10)

"Delete the imagination. Stop the drive of puppet. Limit yourself to the present moment. Understand what happens to you or someone else." (Meditations, VII, 29)

The daily businesses often make us lose perspective and tranquility, because they hide the natural order of things (the nature as it is) to our reason. We must move away from the worries of everyday life, from time to time, and serve only our soul, detached from the immediate worldliness, to recover reason and to return back the right way. We must not forget that the vital breath causes continuous movements in our instincts, which drag and mislead our thinking, and we have to realize, at least when removed, the nature of these movements, to understand them and not be subject to them perennially.

"Nowhere man retires with greater confidence and calm than in his own soul. Especially one who possesses inside these goods, when he leans toward them immediately gets a total tranquility. And I call tranquility exclusively to the good order. Realize, then, surely, this recall and recover yourself. Being briefs and basic principles when you have located so soon, they will be sufficient to retreat in all your soul and to give you back again, without anger, those things in life which you retire from. (...) Realize that thought does not mix with the vital breath that moves soft or violently, once it has recovered and it has understood its peculiar power.” (Meditations, IV, 3)

We all have an inner guide, a consciousness, an intelligence in common. We all have a reason that orders the perception of the world, whereby we know what to do or avoid, conveniently. So we all have a common natural law and participate in a shared 'citizenship'. All manifestations of the human soul come in first instance from a common natural place.

"If intelligence is common to us, also the reason, according to which we are rational, we have in common. Admitted this, reason that orders what to do or avoid, is also common. Granted this, also the law is common. Agreed this, we are citizens. Accepted this, we participate in a citizenship. If so, the world is like a city. Well, what else common citizenship may say that all humankind participates? From there, the common city, come intelligence itself and the reason and the law. Or from where? Because in the same way that the portion of earth that is in me has been separated from some earth, wet part from another element, the part that breathes life, from a certain source, and the warm and igneous part from a particular source (so nothing comes from nothing, nor nothing leads to what not is), likewise also the intelligence comes from somewhere." (Meditations, IV, 4)

"To rational being the same act is consistent with nature and with reason." (Meditations, VII, 11)

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Giordano Bruno. The magic.

Giordano Bruno argues in the book ‘De la Magia’ that the absolute vacuum does not exist, there is no space not occupied by any form of matter: In any space, empty as it may seem, there are bodies moving and passing but the invisible air particles, which are also matter.
The objects of the world are not isolated from each other, among them there is a continuum of matter, he states; imperceptible space among perceptible bodies is a continuum, rather than separate, mediates between them, communicates and keeps them united. The air (or 'aerial or ethereal spirit' as Bruno calls) is an imperceptible body, in principle, to our senses but by itself is a true physical intermediary continuous among all bodies, which is endowed with great activity and effectiveness upon the soul, that is closely united to it, he says, and has a strong resemblance to it, at a time that is very different from substance of thicker perceptible objects that it links.

"The vacuum, i.e. a space without bodies, does not exist: A body does not leave a space with no being replaced by another. Certainly the soul leaves the body it occupied in life, but cannot leave the universal body -unless we prefer to say that it cannot be abandoned by the universal body-. It is therefore inextricably linked to the universal matter, so as its particular nature is full and continuous everywhere, it recognizes everywhere the corporeal matter which coexists with it. It is followed, he concludes that the vacuum is not a disembodied space, but a space in which several bodies succeed and move, hence the continuous movement of body parts towards other body parts, through a continuous space not interrupted, as if the vacuum was merely a mediator between two full -except want to call vacuum to space in which there is no perceptible body-.
An imperceptible body is a truly continuous body -etheric air or spirit-; it is endowed with a huge activity and a huge efficiency, while is closely united to the soul, because of their similarity; because it is away over the rudeness of coarser perceptible substance of the compounds. The invisible and spiritual bodies -those from which comes virtue present in the sensitive bodies- are endowed with the aforementioned effectiveness, this is what it shows the aerial spirit that makes flux and reflux the whole sea, and the indomitable push of winds that, even with clear and calm weather, devastate the land, destroy the trees, stoop the ships. As pointed Lucretius so well, that spiritual body is the one who performs all operations in sensible bodies: in turn most philosophers thought that it was no different from the soul, from which the formula of the poet to describe the air, 'quantum ignes animaeque valent', 'all fires and winds can' (Virgil, Aeneid, VIII, v 403). As regards the fire, oblivious to the gross matter of coals that are burning bodies merely, it is understood that it only differs from the air by accident. The real fire is a real spirit, inside a body in combustion, as being contained, asleep; outside that body, it exists full-fledged, full of vivacity; and it is in an intermediate state in the flame, as set in motion." (De la Magia, p. 29-30)

The air is a physical and spiritual body at once: is the wind that pushes and moves liquids and solids, and that feeds the fire, and that the flame shows its movement, and acting on the sensitive bodies is thus invisible matter of soul. Soul and spirit, according to an ancient tradition in philosophy that Bruno gathers, are air, a very fine and subtle air.

"From water to steam, from steam to air, from air to the finest and sharpest etheric body, is produced the mutation of the same substance and matter to which the Egyptians, Moses and Diogenes of Apollonia called 'spirit'. There is divergence in the fact that Moses does not distinguish the soul of the spirit (if one adheres to his writings, without prejudging the meaning) while the others have made a difference." (p. 31)

The sight of Bruno is panpsychism: the universe has soul. Air is a spirit that touches and unites everything. Air is an invaluable stuff, apparently, to our senses but actually acts on our soul: air is spirit therefore, also in the metaphysical sense. It is what unites and connects physically all, while it is 'the soul of the universe' acting on our personal soul, our thinking and our intelligence; it is 'the first intelligence': it is God himself, according to Bruno.

"Some spirits inhabit human bodies, some inhabit the bodies of other living beings, plants, stones, minerals; in short there is nothing deprived of spirit, of intelligence; matter fleets from a spirit to another, from a nature or composition to another, and the spirit fleets from one matter to another; there is alteration, mutation, passion and finally corruption, i.e. separation of certain parts and composition with others. Death is nothing but dissolution." (p. 42)

"All spiritual substance is reduced to one; every spiritual substance is reduced to a triad. The soul, God and the first intelligence above all things, the soul of the universe" (p. 44)

Our soul is fed by the soul of the universe, while the body is fed by air; the air gives them life. And our intelligence, which is what makes us able to relate things, at once is a reflection of this universal intelligence that relates them all. Intelligence, thought, passions, instincts... the manifestations of our soul or psyche, are in the air. It is in this context that Bruno speaks of God and spirits in general and of ‘demons’ when spirits produce some manifestations of negative character in the soul (psyche) of people.
To him the phenomena of the human soul has a physical existence outside our body; he equates these demons to household or 'pareterals' Roman gods, others had a specific name and certain power recognized in some places, and more noble others had a relationship with music, hymns and musical instruments according to ancient mythology, gods all of them foreign to the thinking of the monotheistic religions, and inferior to God. (Other authors don't speak of 'demons' but of spirits in general, or 'angels', as Eckhart, in the Christian tradition, but ultimately the treatment given to these 'minor spirits' is almost the same as Bruno.) There are spirits physically in the air ('angels' or 'demons') organized by type of instincts, passions and thoughts that they arise in us.

"The proof that demons are of corporeal nature, as diverse and varied as diverse and varied are all body types, is experiencing affections, desires, movements of anger, jealousy, identical to those felt by people and beings made of thicker and sensitive matter." (p. 45)

"Above the condition of those demons stands the God one which, by nature, 'has no need of us, is not sensitive to the favors nor is touched by anger'." He said using the words of Lucretius (De Rerum Natura, II, V, 650-651). (p. 46)

"It must be said with confidence and kept on thinking that all things are full of spirit, soul, upper power, God or divinity, and that intellect and soul are all integral parts but not all do everything in everywhere. This is what the poet (Virgilio) refers inspired by the Pythagorean doctrine (and plays the Aeneid, VI, V, 724-729).

'And above all, sky and lands, liquid plains,
The bright globe of the moon, and the Titanic star,
An inner blow nurtures them; infused to all limbs,
The spirit moves throughout its mass, and mixes in the great body.
Men and animals, birds, all extract life from there,
And these monsters the waves carry under its marble surface.'

This is also the sense that everyone attributes to the sacred arcana, as in Psalm and the Book of Wisdom: "The spirit of the Lord has filled the world, and what contains all things', and moreover 'I fill heaven and earth'.

Corporeal substance is distinguished from such substance of thought, soul, sublime spirit in this: the corporeal whole is all in the entire universe, while the other substance is all entire anywhere, constituting a sort of anything and restoring the image of the whole, here more vividly, more darkly there, here about the unique way, multiple ways there... If all the blows ['spiritus'] and parts of the air they will join thus in a single ocean, they will form a unique soul, for many they were. The philosophers conclude from this that there is single matter, a single spirit, a single light, a single soul, a single intellect." (p. 46-47)

Bruno, Giordano. De la Magia. De los Vínculos en General. Cactus, Buenos Aires, 2007.

Friday, 9 October 2015

A physical mind but not just organic

Throughout history, in different times and in different areas of thought, mind was very differently conceived than we do today. Here is shown an unconventional design to modern science, which is the idea of soul as something material, in one hand, yet not totally contained within the physical limits of the body or located in any specific part of the body, in the other.
This idea, that can be shocking, is that of an 'extensive' soul, a material element that acts on the body. This soul would be 'made' of a non-solid, much more subtle than the body, almost imperceptible, like air or breath, but also physical.

Initially it is difficult to understand a conception like this, in which the most human, what defines us as persons, ceases to be located within 'us' in the misunderstanding that 'we' are simply 'our body'. In our interpretation the soul as an exclusive product of nervous system function disappeares, it does not 'emerge' spectacularly from brain activity. This contradicts apparently some fundamental assumptions to modern science. But, not being this soul anything metaphysical or immaterial but just pure matter, also seems to contradict the religious dogmas.
One idea of the soul and mind like this encounters with religion (see the case of Michael Servetus for example) and initially gives the impression that escapes the 'scientific' study or, at least, is strange to the philosophical and psychological 'scientific' paradigms, but, ultimately, persists in many manifestations of popular tradition and in imagination and beliefs of people. The existence of an ethereal soul that 'comes' from nature and that 'moves' the body, that literally gives life to it and its ability to move and act, and that is the ultimate cause of acts of the subject, is an idea that, even today, illuminates thinking of many people and appears repeatedly in many expressions of oral and written tradition worldwide.
This appears over entire literary tradition of ancient mythology, in the orphism, in Homer, in the Ionian philosophers thinking, in fairy tales and fantastic stories, it appears in Hippocratic Corpus, in Ibn Arabi and Michael Servetus writtings, in Maister Eckhart, in Shakespeare... And generally is given a deep meaning to it extremely intimate and poetic related to the sense of life and the individual's link with nature and the universe. This is a no ordinary topic but, on the contrary, is quite poetic. The words of Emerson and Hölderlin perfectly could illustrate this sensitivity we speak about.

In Homer the soul is regarded as strictly material: a spirit or a ghost, something vaporous surrounding the body. Homer speaks in particular of 'zimos', the 'substance of life', the steamy breath of the soul, the active material, the sensing and thinking one related to air-spirit and to blood. It is a physical substance, but vaporous, not solid, and not just an inert material but active. In fact it is what provides activity to human body when is in contact with it. Provides the ability to feel and think, carries life and activity, moves and encourages the body... It is the principle of life. It leaves us, Homer says, when we vanish or, with our last breath, when we die. The human body is totally inert without it. The zimos only manifests itself when acts on the blood that runs through the living body, when, as air, gives breath to the body and so life and the ability to think. Air, blood, life and thought are inseparable.
However, when this type of stuff does not touch nor act on a body, but exists, has not the ability to manifest in a vital and mental way. Homer called 'psyche' to this condition, and reduced it to that which remains, with no real consciousness, in the 'house of Hades', while it has not a living body and does not feed on blood. Somehow the psyche exists only potentially, it consists of unrealized ideas that can manifest but they do not, of potential content of thought but not real mental activity. They are only ideas not expressed in any vital (mental) act.
To Homer the conscious life and thought processes are not confined to the ideas themselves, in abstract, but they go beyond and depend, more than of ideas as informational content, of the action of air on blood throught breathing, namely of the psychobiological act that makes the ideas 'live': the zimos.

The soul is identified with the engine of the living body and is considered the principle of life. It spreads throughout the body, through breath and blood, from lungs and the heart. Clearly, this Homeric soul corresponds to the air introduced into the body by the action of lungs (breath), which spreads around it through blood and the heart and finally manifests in the mental activity as the form of vital activity that it is.
Another term used by Homer to refer to mind was 'frenes'. This term originally meant, in this author, 'lungs and heart', precisely. With frenes Homer did not refer directly to air or breath of the soul, which corresponds to zimos, but to body organs through which the air or breath acts and manifests on soul and mind.
Homer shows repeatedly in his work a mind-body dualism that persist in later Greek authors. This dualism, says Popper, is typical of the ancient tendency to think in terms of mortal-immortal polar antithesis. The body is mortal and the soul is immortal. In Homer the soul, but immortal, is just a material element, although different and irreducible to the stuff of the body. In fact (and this is important) this is a materialistic dualism. The soul is identified with life, with material elements of life like breath and air, and blood, and involves the functioning of body organs. But it is not confined to them; physically transcends the body, comes from outside and is immortal, as the air is.

In the Ionian philosophical tradition, the so-called physical philosophers, from Anaximenes to Diogenes of Apollonia, the Homeric conception of the soul remains almost intact: the soul is essentially air. We know this, in part, by Aristotle, who also said about the ancient religion of Orpheus "called Orphic poems say that the soul, carried by the winds, fully fits animals when they breathe". Aristotle himself located in the heart, the organ that distributes the air with the blood throughout the body, the seat of consciousness.
As Guthrie points out, to Aristotle 'psyche' meant "not only a soul, but soul in general, namely a kind of psychic material that filled the world”. Indeed, it seems that Aristotle himself, as the preceding materialist thinkers, considered the soul as air, and the particular soul as an air parcel, because the soul must be the lighter form of matter that people knew, which was the air.
Before Aristotle, Anaxagoras stated that “the mind is the most rarefied and purer stuff; it knows everything about anything and has the ultimate power. Moreover, anything that has life or 'psyche', the largest body and the smallest, it is governed by the mind yet”. To Anaxagoras, the mind is the principle of movement and order and, consequently, it is the principle of life. And he distinguishes the mind from all other substances as the more 'rarefied and pure', namely something ethereal or 'air'. And he identifies this 'ethereal stuff' as the cause of knowledge that governs mind and life of organisms, like the zimos of Homer.
To Heraclitus, the soul is fire. Not so much a substance as a process. All material stuff flow, all are processes, the universe as a whole included. Each is governed by the order or 'logos', an universal intelligence. To Heraclitus, fire is the most powerful material process, purer and also the finest and subtle. And so he identified it with the soul. Fire is the 'logos' and is the soul, which subsumes both the man and the entire universe. The soul is not the air itself yet, but the fire, the process in which air is consumed. Soul is not a state of the air but a process (of consumption) of it.
To Democritus, probably the most consistent materialist thinker, the soul is composed of smaller atoms. They are especially suitable for round and move through all things and to move one to others through their own movement. According to Aristotle they are the same atoms of fire. This little soul atoms penetrate the body and distribute so that they alternate with bigger bodily atoms and act on them through their inner movement.
In addition, Democritus concretes that "the soul has two parts: one that is rational, located in the heart, while the irrational is dispersed throughout the entire body". Briefly, the soul acts on the body in a totally mechanical force exerted by atoms on the full extent of the body, force that has its origin in a rational order generated in the heart. This is more or less the same: small atoms, round, dynamic, similar or identical to those of fire (which is the process of consumption of air, remember) that are distributed throughout the body and provides order and 'reason' (mind) from the heart (blood circulation again).

The Hippocratic School held a similar approach on the soul, despite putting in the brain the seat of feeling, thought and movement control, instead of the heart. They explain that the air is what gives intelligence to the brain (throught blood) and interpret very explicitly this air as the highest soul. The air contributes directly to intelligence. The location in the brain is argued in the sense that when a man introduces air into himself (by breathing), this air always reaches the brain at first (from blood circulation), they say, and thus acts on it with all the power of a 'logos-order-intelligence' inherent to the intact and pure air, which many people consider 'divine'.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Vital force

Bergson said "the spirit embraces the past, while the body is confined in a present that constantly begins again and again". Indeed, our mind handles content that come from the past but it works organically in the pure present, which is constantly renewed independently of those memories. All true operation, mental or of any kind, necessarily occurs in the present...
We do not perceive the present in a pure way, we can only to intuit; it is a hidden variable to our direct knowledge and we just can make suppositions, because all perception is contaminated by traces of the past, by the knowledge we have been setting over time. Memories shape our perception of objects and events that occur now. However everything real occurs now, in 'a present that continually starts again and again' and in which we are confined. It seems a terrible paradox.
The present is the duration of the phenomena, the duration of the actions of our body and our perceptual and cognitive systems. The present is biology. Any activity of our body is hopelessly confined to it. It is an unstable, shifting, biology, made of events and actions, which makes change our psychology beyond the mental contents and their associations in memory. The variable physiological activity that underlies the mind is pure action and succession, while the mind, subjective result of such succession, is a continuous recreation of the past, is an invention of the past from an organic mind that although we sense it, we do not know it.

Physical activity of mind, with its own variations, is not encodable to mind itself, it is not perceptible as mental content that has to be fixed in memory, although it is 'perceived' many times in a sensory level and in a high degree. The physiology behind the mind does not enter into its own electrophysiological circuits as content, since it is what sustains them, gives them energy, makes vary, work and flow them. No activity by itself can to represent itself; something like that simply can not exist.
This is a totally animal primary reality, that just happens, without logic, and that makes you feel subjective states and which unfolds, yet now, the logic of the contents of your mind. This dyes that contents, modulates them, but is not one of them. These variable physiological states affect all mental functioning, memory, thought, emotions but are not assimilated as content. They break the rules of the association of ideas. Do not work as memory traces or contents or thoughts, can not be integrated into the informational circuits. But we feel them and they affect the whole. They are much more primary, are the price we pay for being biological organisms, for being alive; they are the specificity of our biology. They are the 'elan vital', the 'vital force'. They are what always will differentiate us from the most sophisticated machine that can ever exist.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

The consciousness and the brain

Every time we attend to somewhat, there is an idea which directs our mind, from the set of possible ideas that have some relevance to the specific situation we experience, which is the 'guiding idea', common to them all. It shares elements with all of them, relates to them, organizes them. It is the idea that prevails in the effort we make to adjust our mind to reality, when our consciousness works to give a fitting response to perceived reality. The diversity and richness of possible thoughts concretes every moment, in this way, in a single thought. Mental effort and intelligence consist precisely in that: the action of selecting the best idea of all possible. It is a more or less intense effort but in any case it is always an activity of intellectual discernment, since 'all possible ideas' can be many and they keep some relationship (more remote or less) all with the situation, 'are analogous each other or are coordinated with each other', says Bergson, thus the task of differentiation can be complex. They are intellectual elements in process of organization which are realized every moment by mental effort and reasoning.
All mental effort is actually a tendency to 'monoideism', focuses the mind and makes rely on a single representation. But from the fact that a representation is single not follows that it is a simple representation. Rather, it can be very complex, and in fact, it is precisely because of the complexity of the ideas that mental or intellectual effort occurs. The complexity determines the difficulty. Every idea that is manifested in consciousness is the result of a more or less complex process of elements discernment that grow up and interfere, related to the situation we are experiencing. There are easier and more laborious situations and representations, that require lower or higher intellectual tension; in the first case are composed of few or distinct elements, in the second case are composed of many elements or poorly differentiated. And is intelligence and experience (the wealth of knowledge, the memory) of each of us that determines the degree of definition or differentiation of elements for each of us, that is, our ability to discriminate them actually. The more we know them, the task will require less effort and stress, and the less we know them, the task will be more difficult and will generate more mental stress.

Mind, brain and external objects are an indivisible block. One define one another. Mental representations (perceptions, thoughts) occur when objects and brain are one in the presence of each other. The brain does not create reality, but is activated by external stimuli and produces certain patterns of activity in front of them, which at the manner of science we can say they represent these stimuli or situations, but in any case they constitute our phenomenal reality. Brain activity never replaces reality; they must be both simultaneously, one in the presence of the other. Brain does not create the world, simply reacts to it in a concrete way. Our memory and our knowledge does not contain the world but only a very partial representation of it, which is activated in front of it.

The brain, our whole body and the world around us are in continuous variation. We perceive in ourselves and in the world discrete states because our attention individually distincts elements of the continuum througth its 'monoideism'; the continuum of reality is beyond our mental capacities, our efforts, our intelligence, and must be converted into discrete.
Our states are not static, because if so they would not exist: there would be no change to detect, there would be nothing to detect. "If a state of the soul ceases to vary, its duration would cease to pass" says Bergson. What happens is that “it is easy not to pay attention to continuous change, and notice only when it grows large enough to print to the body a new attitude, and to attention a new direction. Just then we find that we have changed our state. Really we are constantly changing, and our states theselves are already change. (...) And because we close our eyes to the unceasing variation of every psychological state, we are obliged, when the change has become so significant that requires our attention, talking as if a new state had been juxtaposed to precedent. The new one, in turn, we assume is invariable, and so consecutively and indefinitely”.

Our attention is fixed on what is relevant, what more interests, in what best represents the situation, ie, in the 'guiding ideas', in what stands out on continuous background of our existence. Each of these states we perceive and ideas we have, "is just the better lit point of an unstable area that includes everything we feel, think, want, everything we ultimately are at a given moment".
Psychological time, phenomenal durations of things, are concepts, ideas, percepts; there is no moment, no time, without mental content: there is no psychology of nothing. The metric time of clocks is empty, it is a nothing. Empty time does not exist for us. The moments are our states, are what we perceive or think. We do not perceive the continuum of moments of the present but discrete moments that correspond always to a state, to a feeling, to an idea. We detect, we sense, we think the difference, the remarkable, not continuity. In this sense "the idea is a thought stopping; it borns when thought, instead of continuing his way, pauses or goes back on itself: the same that the heat arises in the bullet when encounters an obstacle. But as the heat did not exist before in the bullet, not the idea was an integral part of the thinking". Thought is the hidden continuous, while the idea is what appears discrete when thought, by some form of 'obstacle', what makes a 'stop'.
The whole world does not exist in our memory, in our past. Not even close. The world is always present, flowing consciousness. The past is just a useful trace to the present. "The memory of a sensation is something able to suggest that sensation, I mean, to make it reborn, stronger gradually as more attention is fixed on it. But it is different from the state it suggests, and precisely because we feel it behind the suggested sensation, we locate in the past the origin of what we experience. Indeed, the sensation is essentially present; but the memory that suggests it is presented with that power of suggestion that is the mark of what is not, of what would still be. (...) The memory appears at any time doubling perception, it borns with it, developing at same time and outlasting it because of its different nature".
The memory is a mark that has remained somewhere in the brain of a present that is past yet, and that the current present (consciousness) has reignited. The memories provide continuous information and collaborate with the sensations in generating 'guiding ideas'. They are information that the brain uses with other information as they are connected in the permanently lit consciousness circuit. This circuit does not stop to vary and evolve assimilating new energy inputs from the senses or any other external and internal environment, physically, chemically, biologically, in a dynamic equilibrium. "Willingly we represent the attentive perception as a series of processes that would walk along a single thread, the object exciting sensations, the sensations giving rise to ideas, each idea gradually shocking furthermost points of the intellectual mass. It would be, therefore, a straight running, by which the spirit would move more and more away from the object, to never return. We intend, however, that perception is a circuit in which all elements, including the same perceived object, are kept in a state of mutual tension as in an electrical circuit, such that each jerk from the object can't stop enrouting to the depths of the spirit: always it must return to the object itself". The brain is a permanently lit circuit that needs the objects and energies of the world to work.

"(...) The spirit embraces the past, while the body is confined to a present that constantly begins again. But we only think of the past because our body retains its mark still present. The impressions made by objects in the brain remain there, as images on a sensitized plate or phonograms on phonograph records; the same way that the disc repeats the melody when you power the device, also raises the brain's memory when needed jerk occurs at the point on which the printing is deposited."
In Sartre's words: "It seems that being is present, everything is present: the body, the present perception and the past as present trace in the body, everything is 'in act': as the memory-trace has not a virtual existence as memory: it is fully current trace. If the memory resurfaces, it does so in the present, as a result of a present process".

Henri Bergson, Memoria y vida.
Henri Bergson, El alma y el cuerpo.
Sartre, El ser y la nada.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The states of consciousness

Consciousness has differences in intensity. There are different levels of awareness and conscience. We can be very activated and concerned at certain times and in certain situations, and little in others. There are obvious differences between sleep and relaxation states, on the one hand, and states of emergency and activation on the other. Consciousness reaches more lively in times of crisis, when we hesitate between two or more decisions we know they are important, where we understand that much is at stake, which can be decisive for our adjustment, even for our survival, when we choose something really new, unforeseen, and anticipate possibilities that we had not thought of. The more we create or decide the future, the stronger consciousness and the greater intelligence we mobilize.
Moreover, low activation states of consciousness that are dreams, according to Bergson, appear when memory and sensations converge. They obey to something we remember but that is just a feeling, that is 'empty' by a manner of speaking, that does not have a concrete and real reference in the world, and there isn't therefore an urgent situation nor even the need for a more or less adequate response.
"The remembrance is sharp and accurate, but lifeless inside. The sensation would find a form on which to set indecision of its contours. The remembrance would get a subject to fill, load itself, in order to upgrade itself."
In dreams what matters is the memory, it is what provides most of the information to the experience, not the sensation, which is very blurred. Sensations are more blurred than in wakefulness, but the basic mechanism would be the same. "In wakefulness the knowledge we acquire of an object implies a similar operation which it is performed in the dream. We only perceive the draft of the thing; this launches an appeal to the memory of the whole thing; and the complete remembrance, our spirit was not aware of it, takes the opportunity to throw out. Is this kind of hallucination, inserted in a real framework, what we realize when we 'see' the thing."
Both in dreams and in waking, consciousness manifests real impressions made on the organs of senses and also memories that are recovered. But what then is the difference between perceiving and dreaming? Although the mechanism is the same, it should not work exactly in the same way in dream and in waking.
To sleep, as we see, is not simply to be isolated from outside world. Sleep does not close our senses to outside impressions, since many of them are incorporated into dreams; dream takes away part of the material from there, as we all have seen sometime. Sleep is not simply a rest of the higher functions of thought, a suspension of reasoning. We are not incapable of logic in dreams; dreams have their own logic, follow their own reasoning. They can even be seen as an excess of reasoning, of incoherent images, poorly linked ones to others, without a common nexus that unites and holds them, but instead they flow much more easily than in waking... associating of different mode, more labile.
Bergson says that "our life, in the waking state, is a life of work, even if we do nothing, since at any time we choose, and at any time we must exclude. Always we choose between our feelings and sensations, because we chase from our consciousness thousands of 'subjective' feelings that reappear as soon as we fall asleep. We chose, with extreme precision and delicacy, between our memories, since we aside all remembrance not conform to our present state. This choice we make constantly, this constantly renewed adaptation, is the essential condition of what we call good sense. But election and adaptation they keep us in a state of uninterrupted 'stress'. We do not realize at the time, as we do not feel the pressure of the atmosphere. But eventually we toil. Having good sense is very fatiguing."
When we sleep, on the contrary, we really 'do nothing', we do not work at all, we are unattached to life. Everything is indifferent to us. We desinterest all. "Sleep is to disinterest. One sleeps on the exact extent that he is not interested. A mother sleeping next to her child can not hear thunder, while a sigh of her child awakes her. Does she really slept for her child? We do not sleep for what continues interesting us.” We sleep when we forget to focus on one point, when we stop willing something, "to wake and to will are one and the same thing."
In short, "the same faculties are exercised, whether we are awake, whether we dream, but in one case they are tense and the other relaxed. Dream is the whole mental life, less stress concentration. Still we perceive, still we remember, still we reason: perception, memory and reasoning can abound in the dreamer, because abundance, in the domain of the spirit, does not mean effort. What requires effort is 'the precision of fit'."

The instability of dreams, how quickly they develop, and the preference in them by insignificant memories compared to wakefulness, tend to confirm that, indeed, the mechanism of dreams and of perceptions is the same.
In dreams the same sensation may correspond to very different information and memories, which we travel very easily from one content to another, which we would consider very different in the waking state; and we do it as easily as fast, in seconds, when we would occupy for days to get to relate all these thoughts awake. Dreams are usually developed as images, which quickly precipitate, loosely, since it is a feature of the images that many of them can be given at once ('in panoramic' says Bergson). In the dream the visual memory does not have to take up with the visual sense as happens in the external reality. Almost everything is memory. The images of the visual memory flow much more freely and can precipitate with dizzying rapidity. "In waking state, visual memory that serves to interpret the visual sensation is bound to settle exactly on it; then continues its development, occupies the same time; in short, the recognized perception of external events lasts just the same as them". When is required for some reason 'the precision of fit', the effort appears. interpretive memory is strained, it pays attention to life again, goes of the dream finally, it slows down, "outside events will pattern their flow and decrease their speed".
The preference of dreams to insignificant memories are also due to the inattention and indifference to life which defines in general terms the dream, indeed the simple fact of recover that attention and that interest leads us to wake up quickly, it is incompatible with sleep. This happens when we detect any disturbing external event (the crying of child to the mother), when we realize that something important is about to do, or when the logic of the dream itself leads us to wake up because it is produced any unacceptable situation or incompatible with our life, which strains our attention instantly. The latter happens when we dream that we fall from high altitude or a murderer or a predator is about to catch us, for example. At that moment we awoke.
Sleep is only compatible with insignificant memories or thoughts. Another example of the same is that when we try to focus, by some form of obligation, an activity that we feel uninteresting (a reading, an exhibition, a movie...) when we get bored, we sleep and our mind wanders to equally irrelevant content; unless we make a great effort to regain concentration and get to connect with something significant... Or said in reverse: when sleep naturally comes, what we were doing awake no longer seems interesting and we get bored, if we did not sleep before.
As Bergson says "dreaming ego is a distracted ego, it is distended. The memories that best harmonize with him are the memories of distraction, which do not involve the brand of effort".

At least once a day, every 24 hours, we go from wakefulness to sleep and from sleep to waking state again. But also our consciousness fluctuates in a continuum of intensity. We have a body, variable itself, we are not 'pure spirits', to put it in the words of Bergson. Our body, life, follows its own rules. Inevitably we slept, however interesting is what we are doing; or what normally had little interest may be sometime will enter intensely in our consciousness. Sometimes nothing happens in our environment nor is there any reason to think our memories have been significantly altered and, instead, our conscious radically change; but we can not find out why. Our moods and our conscience can be highly variable from one moment to another.
As we have seen is our consciousness what creates our reality, which is not given objectively; memories and perceptions are nothing fixed but quite the opposite. Awareness not only integrates the energy or stimuli from the external environment but also from the internal environment, which occur inside the body, in its organs, tissues, its organic matter, in life processes. The body is terribly unstable, constantly working to maintain homeostasis. While we must recognize that some processes or physiological conditions may not manifest in the states of consciousness, we know, because of our experience, which many do. So many that we may doubt whether not all, as life and consciousness, as we've seen following the Bergsonian reasoning, are inseparable.
This is the 'immediate consciousness', as Bergson calls, completely fluid and continuous consciousness "that is inherent in the inner life, which feels more than sees; but it feels like a movement, as a continuous overlay with a constantly receding future". It is in this immediate consciousness that 'elan vital' acts, producing the 'impulse of consciousness', which is instinctive and inseparable from life, and escapes the analysis because of its simplicity.
Then there is the 'reflexive consciousness' ''that offers the vision of our inner life as a state that is going to another state, starting each of these states at one point, ending in another. Reflexive consciousness prepares language pathways; it distinguishes, separates and juxtaposes; It is only confortable with what is defined yet and with the immobility; it clings to a static conception of reality”. It is the consciousness that subjects reality to language, we talked about before, which manifests itself in verbal reasoning, replacing the immediate and continuous personal experience by discrete linguistic discourse.
Reflexive consciousness reasons with the essentiall of immediate consciousness through language, in order to retain the moment, to represent it and argue it to communicate, to give some kind of explanation or justification of the behavior of oneself to himself and to others... With this mission, it creates abstract representations with the language, it relationships what we experience in the successive presents to attempt to give them a logic and unity beyond their mere existence.
The language is abstract, the same words can represent different things, it has a slower time adapting well to the events of reality and allows to communicate with others, that is, allows to influence other people and create new situations in the main scope of our action that is the social. Social groups, of whatever kind, are essentially sensitive to verbal communication, so as we are each of us individually. Any action of our communication quickly finds a reaction of other or the group, while we are always at the expectation of the actions of others. The social is our playground, and the main way is language and reflexive consciousness.

Henri Bergson, L'energie spirituelle.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Consciousness, joy, intelligence and society.

Consciousness is what drives us forward, is what decides, what sets targets, what defines our fate. And there is a fundamental sign of the achievement of this goals and satisfaction of our personal motivations, which is joy. Bergson says: "The joy always announces that life has triumphed, that has gained ground, that has achieved a victory: any great joy has a triumphant accent. Wherever joy is, creation is: As creation is richer, joy is more profound. The mother who watches her son is joyful, because she is conscious of having created him, physically and morally. The trader who carries out his business, the factory owner who sees his industry prosper, is he joyful because of the money he earns and the notoriety he acquires? Richness and consideration obviously come much satisfaction he feels, but they bring pleasure rather than joy, and what he enjoys with true joy is the feeling of having mounted a company that marches, of having called something to life. Take exceptional joys, the artist who has performed his thinking, the wise who has discovered or invented. You will hear to say that these men work for glory and that they draw their liveliest joys from admiration that they inspire. Deep mistake! One holds on praise and honors on the exact extent he is not sure he succeeded. But one who is sure, absolutely sure, having produced a viable and durable work, this one has nothing to do with praise and he feels above the glory, because he is the creator, because he knows it, and because the joy he experiences with it is a divine joy." This is about the satisfaction of personal needs of each one, the feeling of power over the circumstances of life and world in which we move, the conviction that the world operates according we think, that events occur as we anticipate. This is the confirmation of the contents of our consciousness in the reality, and this is surely the greatest satisfaction we can have.

We never have any warranty that our knowledges correspond to reality. Often our 'knowledges' rather than approach us, they take us away from reality, they constitute a network of ideas and certainties that we see that reality dismantles again and again, if we test them. Ignorance is not a void of knowledge, but rather it is the madness of excess of certainties that must be dismantled, as argued by A. Finkielkraut.
Without realizing it, anything that happens in reality (in the present) we turn it into words, in a time frame (past and future) of predefined and predictable arguments. This is what makes our consciousness. We articulate a network of fictional representations and thoughts that, even they try to represent it, they separate us from the simple reality. We submit reality to the forms of language; so consciousness works. We strive to narrate, in past and future, the reality of the present. We subordinate ourselves to our narrative world, we take ourselves and our ideas as the measure of things. And 'the more exclusively the man takes himself, as a subject, as a measure of things, more far equivocal is the measurement', as Heidegger says.
This reason is not empirical, disregards the immediate reality. This is a wrong consciousness. It forgets the concrete, the real, the objective, taking just the minimum to keep 'reasoning', it has a tendency to deal just gross generalities, to subjetivize in excess and quickly lose the measure of its object. To no question itself. Holding on to the apparent, going back and forth between the nearby and common ideas is where resides the error, in the sense of aimlessly wandering through the world of easy ideas and alleged knowledge, creating 'reasons' without real referents. This is the source of the errors that disfigure and hide reality. It happens when we put words to facts, when we create representations that replace them, by giving them a narrative texture, just happens when we 'reason'.

Consciousness is, in turn, the intelligence that guides us. We will be able to achieve our goals, to anticipate the future, to understand the world (and be happy) based on our intelligence, on the adequacy of our knowledge to the situation and on our ability to acquire new knowledges when they do not produce satisfactory results. Consciousness can be smart or not, or smarter or less. We are largely dependent on the knowledge we already have, our past experiences, and we will have to show an alert reaction and a more intense awareness to new situations that our knowledge does not allow an adequate response; we will must be more aware to details and to all the information that concurs in the given situation.
It is in society where our conscience and our intelligence are mainly tested, so they are pooled with other individuals. Only in society full satisfaction can be achieved since our behavior mainly occurs in social situations. "The society, which is the pooling of individual energies, benefits from the efforts of anyone and turns easier the effort of anyone. It can only survive if subordinates the individual; it can only make progress if left him: conflicting demands, which would have to be reconciled. If the individual forgets himself, society in turn forgets its destination; one and the other, in a state of somnambulism, made and remade endlessly round the same circle, instead of walking straight forward, with a larger social efficiency and a more complete individual freedom. Only human societies have their eyes fixed to both goals to reach. Fighting with themselves and in war with each other, they try visibly, by friction and collision, round off angles, erode antagonisms, eliminate contradictions, make individual wills were inserted without deforming the social will, and that different societies enter in turn, without losing their originality and independence, in a wider society: disturbing and soothing sight, one can not contemplate without saying that here too, through countless obstacles, life works identifying and integrating to obtain as much as possible, the richer variety, the highest qualities of invention and effort."
The others are the most relevant for our future, what most occupies our attention and our thoughts, what we must further discover how do they work. Society yet gives us the resources to understand and control the physical world; the important thing is to understand people, which are the most complex, unpredictable and what should concern us most.
Society is a confrontation of consciousness. Some are more shared than the others. It sometimes happens, unfortunately, that societies are rigid and impose the dominant reason, and people is subjected to them and loses his freedom, his ability to decide, his creativity; they are authoritarian societies or groups that despise the individual and threate the individual conscience. This are bad places and bad times to live. They confuse the reason (some specific reasons), the arguments of consciousness (some concrete consciences) with reality and absolute truth. In the background, simply they do not understand that they do not understand the mechanism of consciousness, but they seem to only understand the mental contents, which are its outcome; they blindly confuse their subjectivity with reality. Without possibility of reconciliation these societies lose their orientation as soon individuals forget themselves, as Bergson says. Individuals and the group fall in a state of 'somnambulism' and do nothing but roam around endlessly about the same issues that do not lead to anything new, to any kind of progress. There is no progress; subjects are slaves of goals that are not theirs, their consciences are alienated. The wills of individuals are deformed, they have surrendered to the official truths. The progress that should arise from the confrontation individuation-integration no longer exists. No effort, no intelligence, no creation... And all this because of the confusion between consciousness as action and consciousness as knowledge, by reducing the first to the second. We are not always able, admittedly, to understand the reasoning rather than as absolute knowledge and not as a process of personal consciousness, as action, as a motor of change and evolution that it is.
Our thoughts and knowledges, by themselves, do not let us know what we usually think we know about reality. They are only a small part of it and very influenced by our individual expectations. We do not perceive every moment all reality, or remember all our knowledge. On the contrary: we are terribly selective; we just remember, perceive and update a small bunch of information that we believe is useful in that specific circumstance which we live. We ignore the rest; we hide it.

Our consciousness is attention to life, expectation. And as we know in psychology, attention is selective, only attend to one thing at a time. We reduce the infinite potential information to unique, concrete and present one. "It's the brain that gives us the service to keep our attention fixed on life; and life looks ahead; returns back only to the extent that the past can help to illuminate and prepare for the future. Live, to the spirit, is essentially to concentrate on the act to comply. Then it is to be inserted into the things through a mechanism that will extract of consciousness all that is usable for action, at the risk of obscuring most of the rest. Such is the role of the brain in memory operation: it does not work to preserve the past, but to cover it first, then to make transparent what is practically useful."
Consciousness is a mechanism that makes the time, a mechanism which acts in the eternal present and creates the illusion of past and future, cause and effect. It is a mechanical which plots ideas about what may have happened and what could happen, but it has almost no information of its own performance, which does not capture the thinking itself, the act that defines us as human. It does not capture the moment, nor, therefore, the become of the successive moments, his true causality; inevitably it refers to past and future, their own inventions. Reason always justifies itself. No one should therefore take himself too seriously... only the necessary.

Henri Bergson, L'energie spirituelle.

Friday, 31 July 2015


We all have an idea of what consciousness is, but it is not easy to give a definition. Consciousness would be something that every moment is present in our minds in our experience... You can say that it is a working knowledge of the world around us and ourselves, we feel it as exclusively ours and we use it to make personal decisions. We understand that consciousness is something that defines us as individuals. It is knowledge about ourselves and our situation at present, which puts us in the world and directs our behavior.

Memory is a necessary condition of consciousness, because without memory there is no knowledge nor therefore consciousness. Bergson said that memory is indeed the most obvious feature of consciousness: "Consciousness means first memory. Memory may be not wide; it may embrace only a small part of the past; it may not hold more than what just happened; but memory is there, or then consciousness is not. A consciousness that does not retain anything of his past, which continually forgets itself, would perish and be reborn every moment."
Consciousness is the updating memory in the present. It does not have to be wide but there must be some memory, even if just of what happened right now, for there to be consciousness. If nothing is retained there is no a moment of conscience; There exists no consciousness nor even the 'moment' (the experience of the moment), which come to be the same thing.
But more than the actual content of the memories of the past itself, consciousness is the action performed in the present to bring to mind such content; it is to make present in thought the past; it is an action. The actions of consciousness are always in the present, as any other actions; it can not be otherwise. But the action of consciousness is oriented to the future, and this is fundamental. What can happen in the more or less immediate future is the driving force of consciousness, is what attracts it and fixes it to ones or others aspects of the world around us. Consciousness leans forward, directs attention to what we think will happen, to the different possibilities; it keeps us expectant about what may happen. Consciousness is, in short, the action I perform in the present updating what I know of the past in expectation of what is going to come (future). It is the action I perform in the present to produce some practical thoughts for coping and influence the possible events around me.

Bergson said: "All consciousness is to anticipate the future. Consider the direction of your mind at any time: will find that deals with what is, but especially in view of what it will be. Attention is an expectation, and there is no consciousness without some attention to life. The future is there; calls us or rather draws us to him: this continuous traction, which takes us forward on the path of time, it also causes us to act continuously. All action is an overlap with the future."
What attracts us, which continuously draws our attention, it is what will happen. We continuously anticipate the future, and we do it based on what we know-understand-believe that happened or is happening. What is most immediate and most important, what it is more 'urgent', is what attracts us. Consciousness is the attention to the life and to the future, and is the basic mechanism of our psyche and our behavior (and our survival).
Any of our actions reflects an assumption we make about the future, comes on and overlies it, determines it from what we know and what we decide.
"To hold what is not yet, to anticipate what still is not, this is the first function of consciousness. Will not be at present, if present would be reduced to the mathematical instant. That instant is nothing more than the limit, purely theoretical, which separates the past from the future; in fact it can be conceived, never perceived; when we think we catch it, it is away from us. What in fact we perceive is true thickness duration that consists of two parts: our recent past and our immediate future. On this past we are supported, on the future we are tilted; to support and to tilt are so characteristic of a conscious being."
Mental actions, as of all actions, are performed in the pure present, in the exact boundary between the past and the future, but the results of these actions, mental contents, refer to the past and the future, more or less close to this pure present, but never exactly coincide with this zero moment, that is the moment of action and yet not of the outcome, a kind of blind spot of time and psyche.
Every moment our consciousness makes our personal way of being in the world, creates 'a thickness in time', creates a personal past and future beyond the imperceptible instant, creates a singularity of the possible interpretations of the world extended in time.

If consciousness is attention to life, have we to understand that all living things could have consciousness? Bergson asks. All living things have life by definition, have a past and a future, a cause and an effect on the actions they take in the present interacting with their environment. In man consciousness is unquestionably linked to the brain: but beware! it does not follow from this that the existence of a brain is a necessary condition of consciousness, as the stomach is not a necessary condition for digestion into simple beings who, in fact, have no stomach or even differentiated organs, such as the amoeba, although they digest food.
As digestion involves not only the participation of the stomach, consciousness does not involve only the participation of the brain. In both cases it seems that also involves simpler elements and vital processes, beyond any specific organ. In fact, everything that is alive may be aware: consciousness is coextensive with life, Bergson argues. In the lower living beings, which do not have brain, would have to be some form of consciousness, but surely very different from ours, which would be confused with the simplest biological processes of life of these organisms. Would be "a diffuse, confused, reduced to little consciousness, though not reduced to nothing", says Bergson.
In addition to the brain there are much more primitive nerve centers and pathways, other tissues and organic masses, in man and in the simplest living things, which certainly interact with the external environment, which retain some information and act in certain circumstances and at certain elements of the environment. This would be a form of consciousness, rudimentary compared to man, but consciousness, so it has the fundamental elements of it.
The same in humans. The brain is not an isolated organ from the body, on the contrary it is an integrative organ of the rest of the body functioning while integrating energy and stimuli from the external medium. Our body functions as a whole, and therefore our consciousness works with all of it, not just with the brain.

Consciousness, as we have seen, has the function of decision and choice. In all living beings consciousness is what, from knowledge of the past and anticipating the future, choose the action to take in every moment of the present. "To choose need to think about what can be done and remember the consequences of what has been done; is needed to anticipate and to remember". This occurs at different levels of complexity, depending on the complexity of organisms, of course.

Living beings choose, which is the same as saying that they create their own future, says Bergson. With their decisions they influence the future. Consciousness creates a "zone of uncertainty" around the living being. The more consciousness, the greater the uncertainty (or freedom) of being, the greater the 'creativity'. Consciousness is the ability to choose in a situation in which the subject attends and responds individually based on his experience; somehow is the ability to break the determinism of the outside world, by activity of internal environment, to define how the future will go.

Henri Bergson, L'energie spirituelle.