Misuse of Mind

Misuse of Mind
Catalog # SKU2182
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Karin Stephen


Misuse of Mind

Karin Stephen

A Study of Bergson's Attack on Intellectualism.


THE immense popularity which Bergson's philosophy enjoys is sometimes cast up against him, by those who do not agree with him, as a reproach. It has been suggested that Berg-son's writings are welcomed simply because they offer a theoretical justification for a tendency which is natural in all of us but against which philosophy has always fought, the tendency to throw reason overboard and just let ourselves go. Bergson is regarded by rationalists almost as a traitor to philosophy, or as a Bolshevik inciting the public to overthrow what it has taken years of painful effort to build up.

It is possible that some people who do not understand this philosophy may use Bergson's name as a cloak for giving up all self-direction and letting themselves go intellectually to pieces, just as hooligans may use a time of revolution to plunder in the name of the Red Guard. But Bergson's philosophy is in reality as far from teaching mere laziness as Communism is from being mere destruction of the old social order.

Bergson attacks the use to which we usually put our minds, but he most certainly does not suggest that a philosopher should not use his mind at all; he is to use it for all it is worth, only differently, more efficiently for the purpose he has in view, the purpose of knowing for its own sake.

Chapter 1

IN order to understand Bergson it is not necessary to have any previous acquaintance with philosophy, indeed the less the reader knows of current metaphysical notions the easier it may perhaps be for him to adopt the mental attitude required for understanding Bergson. For Bergson says that the tradition of philosophy is all wrong and must be broken with: according to his view philosophical knowledge can only be obtained by "a reversal of the usual work of the intellect."

The usual work of the intellect consists in analysis and classification: if you have anything presented to you which you do not understand the obvious question to put yourself is, "what is it?" Suppose in a dark room which you expected to find empty you stumble against something, the natural thing to do is to begin at once to try to fit your experience into some class already familiar to you. You find it has a certain texture which you class as rather rough, a temperature which you class as warm, a size which you class as about two feet high, a peculiar smell which you recognise and you finally jump to the answer to your question: it is "a dog."

This intellectual operation is a sample of the way in which it comes natural to us to set to work whenever we find ourselves confronted with any situation which we are not able to classify off hand, we are not easy till we can say what the situation is, and saying what consists in hitting upon some class with which we are already familiar to which it belongs: in this instance the question was answered when you succeeded in describing the situation to yourself as "stumbling upon a dog." Now you were only able to class what was stumbled upon as a dog after you had recognised a certain number of properties as being those shared by dogs-the rough texture, the size, the smell. You analysed the situation as containing these qualities and thereupon classified what had been stumbled upon as a dog.

75+ pages - 8¼ x 5¼ softcover

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