chapter  15
Choice
Pages 5

This refusal is not undertaken in the interest of a mere succession of instants, which is really no more meaningful or imaginable. What is required is something transcending the instant, and of a different kind from it; and this I propose to call the form, in the sense of the Gestalt. This is radically different from any content that the instant could conceivably have, and it is also more homogeneous and self-subsistent, on the other hand, than pure duration could be. In fact Bergsonian duration presupposes a sort of variable density corresponding to the forms which our duration projects.1 Duration is heterogeneous, but not amenable to fragmentation into any arbitrary discontinuity (ne tolère pas une discontinuité quelconque).2 Now what underlies much contemporary French philosophy is the question how these ‘structures’ come to be projected, how they are maintained through time, how they persist in spite of resistance offered to them, and according to what principles they change. In a sense they are, of course, contingent, and ultimately have to be taken for granted, but they are not contingent in the sense in which the succession of instants is, in other words, in the sense in which the fact that things just happen is contingent. The ‘original choice’ which orientates, or tends to orientate a life, and colour a personality, just happens, in a way, and yet continental philosophers are not prepared to leave it at that. They would say that such a dismissal of the problem indicates that what is essentially for-itself is being objectively and exclusively viewed as in-itself.