The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives

bridging the gap

For my way of thinking, dialectical reason is always constitutive: it is a bridge, endlessly extended and improved, that analytic reason throws out over an abyss whose other shore it does not perceive clearly even though it knows that it exists, and even if it is constantly receding. The term ‘dialectical reason,’ then, covers the perpetual efforts that analytical reason must undertake to reform itself if it aspires to account for language, society, and thought; the distinction between the two reasons is founded, in my view, solely on the temporary gap separating analytical reason from an understanding of life. Sartre calls analytical reason lazy reason; I call the same reason dialectical, but when it is courageous: stretched to the limit in its effort to surpass itself.

—Claude Lévi-Strauss (Wild Thought [La Pensée sauvage], trans. Mehlman & Leavitt, p. 280 [cf. p. 246 in the older translation])

Above the body, with its mechanisms which symbolize the accumulated effort of past actions, the memory which imagines and repeats has often been left to hang, as it were, suspended in the void. Now, if it be true that we never perceive anything but our immediate past, if our consciousness of the present is already memory, the two terms which had been separated to begin with cohere closely together. Seen from this point of view, indeed, our body is nothing but that part of our representation which is ever born again, the part always present, or rather that which, at each moment, is just past. Itself an image, the body cannot store up images, since it forms a part of the images, and this is why it is a chimerical enterprise to seek to localize past or even present perceptions in the brain: they are not in it; it is the brain that is in them. But this special image which persists in the midst of the others, and which I call my body, constitutes at every moment, as we have said, a section of the universal becoming. It is then the place of passage of the movements received and thrown back, a hyphen, a connecting link between the things which act upon me and the things upon which I act…

—Henri Bergson (Matter and Memory, trans. Paul & Palmer, p. 151f.)


ego hoc feci mm–MMXXIV · cc 2000–2024 M.F.C.