Sunday, 31 July 2016

Montaigne, Wittegenstein, and Bergson on a Futureless State.

But all those who have fallen into a swoon after some violent accident and have lost all sensation, have been in my opinion very close to seeing Death’s true and natural face, for it is not to be feared that the fleeting moment at which we pass away comport any hardship or distress, since we cannot have sensation without duration. For us, suffering needs time and time is so short and precipitate when we die that death must be indiscernible. What we have to fear is Death’s approaches, they can indeed fall within our experience.
(Montaigne : On Practice Essays: II.6 (Screech trans. Penguin)

Death is not an event in life: we do not live to experience death. If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.
(Ludwig Wittgenstein: Tractatus)

Henri Bergson would have agreed with those sentiments and his position on memory being mainly not stored in the brain he felt was borne out by the phenomenon of our life ‘passing before our eyes’ in an instant when we feel we are about to die. We deal with life through living it towards the future, responding to its demands by action. The brain is an organ of action. Specific memories are drawn out of ‘storage’ as they are relative to the situation. Take away a future and specific response is otiose. Memory then becomes a total immediate recall of everything.

We live in the past, by the past and out of our greater mind. (mental illness might be that alienation from it and a subsequent lack of meaning) Compressed into duration in Bergson’s view is every relevant indication of appropriate action. The brain registers this or channels it but is not its storehouse except in the limited sense of rote memory and muscle memory.

So ‘Peace, be still’ - abstain from the future and make that your practice.


Anonymous said...

psychiatric illnesses come with their own meanings/moods as the systems are faulty or damaged but not missing.

ombhurbhuva said...

What systems are these?