September 15, 2004

Bergson's intuition and reflection in learning

…negative freedom is the result of manufactured social prejudices where, through social institutions, such as education and language, we become enslaved by 'order-words' that identify for us ready-made problems which we are forced to solve. This is not 'life', and it is not the way life itself has 'creatively' evolved. Therefore, true freedom, which can only be a positive freedom, lies in the power to decide through hesitation and indeterminacy and to constitute problems themselves.

Ansell Pearson, Germinal Life, Routledge 1999, p.23

This 'experimental and ethical pedagogy' (ibid, p.14) employs the Bergsonian method of intuition, which involves a reflection on the difference manifest in creative thought. When one realises that a currently held concept simply could not have existed nor could have been analytically deduced at a previous time in a previous state, one gets a sense of time as pure difference, despatialized. That feeling is creative, and the philosophical method that draws people into this reflection is Bergson's intuition. Only once the reliance on ready-made problems is abandoned can creativity occur.

The word 'implication' has a special meaning in this. Imagine reality as a large sheet of fabric. The fabric is folded to present you with one aspect, which you may grasp at. The fold (French – pli) is an aspect. You struggle to hold onto that fold, and find that you can only do so by holding onto other folds that follow on to it. As you try to grasp other folds, to unfold the folds, to follow the im-pli-cations, your actions on the further folds cause the first fold to be pulled and distorted in your grip. Out of this feedback loop the specific problem of this set of folds emerges. At some point you are able to stabilise the folds in relation to each other, and have a solution.

When you grasp the fact that a new problem has emerged, that the positing of the problem is beyond your control, and that you must evolve in relation to the problem in a way that was previously both unthinkable and impossible, you have intuition in Bergson's sense. Intuition is a reflection on learning, a creative learning.

And that's why Deleuze makes such a big issue out of the role of fabric in baroque art (le Pli, Leibniz and the Baroque), the role of the curtain in the paintings of Bacon (Logic of Sensation), and the relationship between canvas, paint and brush-stroke.

- 4 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Robert O'Toole

    This I think is what Deleuze calls double articulation. Consider the subject doing the unfolding themselves to be part of the folded material, and you have a double folding.

    15 Sep 2004, 16:38

  2. Chris May

    I think your etymology is a bit optimistic.

    Implication comes from imply, which comes from the old french emplier, to enfold. It's not referring to the fold as a physical affordance that can be grasped, rather to the process of wrapping or entangling one meaning with another.

    15 Sep 2004, 17:21

  3. Robert O'Toole

    No, it's not my etymology that's optimistic, it's Deleuze's that is somewhat playful. It's from his book on Leibniz and the Baroque, called Pli. I'm not an authority on it (yet), but i do think that he deliberately uses the term to show how in the baroque there is no distinction between the physical process of apprehending something and the mental process of understanding. So its not a metaphor. Grasping at fabric is like wrapping and entangling meaning. He skips between talking about baroque clothing, logic and mathematics in just a few pages! When i get home i'll get my copy out and find some quotes.

    Very interesting. Thanks.

    15 Sep 2004, 17:50

  4. Robert O'Toole


    14 Oct 2004, 12:21

Add a comment

You are not allowed to comment on this entry as it has restricted commenting permissions.