Bergson characterizes free will as emanating from the self as a whole, that is, as based on all of our memory. In this sense, free will is opposed to impulse, to rash decision, in which only a part of our memory acts without the knowledge of the rest. On the other hand, Bergson defines determinism as the idea that all natural processes obey laws. Determinism therefore not only asserts that everything has a cause: it also and above all asserts that every cause acts according to impersonal laws which fix (determine) the effect in advance. This results in an incompatibility between determinism and free will: if everything that happens is pre-fixed in the distant past by impersonal laws, then we cannot say that our wills are produced by our present self. Bergson develops an argument in favor of the existence of free wills. Moreover, its concept of free will sheds new light on Libet-type experiments. At first glance, these neuroscientific experiments seem to destroy the idea that a will can be free. However, the analysis of the concept of freedom on which these experiments are based shows that, paradoxically, they are not about free will at all.
Pour citer cet article :Dolbeault Joël (2021/2). Free Will according to Bergson: Conceptual Clarifications and Confrontation with Libet-Type Experiments. In Monier Cyril & Khamassi Mehdi (Eds), Liberty and cognition, Intellectica, 75, (pp.189-205), DOI: n/a.