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The Exaltation of Memory: a Bergsonian Approach of Near-Death Experiences

Evrard Renaud
Language of the article : French
DOI: 10.3406/intel.2017.1868
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In 1896, in his essay on the relationship between the body and the mind, entitled Matter and Memory, Bergson used the strange phenomenon of the panoramic vision of life in support of his theory of the two memories. He developed this example again in his presidential address to the Society for Psychical Research in 1913 where he located the trigger of this exaltation of the memory not merely in a simple sensory-motor imbalance, but in a sudden demobilization of the vital impulse. Bergson’s interest in this phenomenon is placed, on the one hand, in the scientific context of his time and, on the other, in his theory of the two memories. Then we extend the Bergsonian analysis on the basis of old and recent data on the near-death experiences (NDE). The panoramic vision of life and other associated phenomena are integrated into an "experience of pure memory" or "disembodied consciousness," in which there is a distancing of the relations between the mind and the body. The phenomena of intelligent automatisms and the physical and intellectual performances favoring survival – aspects of NDE that Bergson neglected – show that the disembodied consciousness is complemented by an "experience of pure perception" or "hyperembodied consciousness." It reflects a rapprochement or focus in the relationship between the mind and the body, with the practical purpose of surviving in a confrontation with a threat perceived as mortal. The combination of the two consciousness thus proceeds from a disjunction of processes usually entangled, followed by a new and often problematic junction when the perception of the vital threat ends.

Pour citer cet article :

Evrard Renaud (2017/2). The Exaltation of Memory: a Bergsonian Approach of Near-Death Experiences. In Bottineau Didier & Grégoire Michael (Eds), Language and enaction: embodiment, environment, experience, learning, Intellectica, 68, (pp.257-289), DOI: 10.3406/intel.2017.1868.