Bergson, Politics, and Religion

Bergson, Politics, and Religion

Book Pages: 352 Illustrations: Published: July 2012

Politics > Political Theory, Religious Studies, Theory and Philosophy > Critical Theory

Henri Bergson is primarily known for his work on time, memory, and creativity. His equally innovative interventions into politics and religion have, however, been neglected or dismissed until now. In the first book in English dedicated to Bergson as a political thinker, leading Bergson scholars illuminate his positions on core concerns within political philosophy: the significance of emotion in moral judgment, the relationship between biology and society, and the entanglement of politics and religion. Ranging across Bergson's writings but drawing mainly on his last book, The Two Sources of Morality and Religion, the contributors consider Bergson's relevance to contemporary discussions of human rights, democratic pluralism, and environmental ethics.

Contributors. Keith Ansell-Pearson, G. William Barnard, Claire Colebrook, Hisashi Fujita, Suzanne Guerlac, Vladimir Jankélévitch, Frédéric Keck, Leonard Lawlor, Alexandre Lefebvre, Paola Marrati, John Mullarkey, Paulina Ochoa Espejo, Carl Power, Philippe Soulez, Jim Urpeth, Melanie White, Frédéric Worms


“The editors of and contributors to this volume make a good case that researchers interested in questions of the history of Continental political and religious thought may benefit from a close look at the work of Bergson. Recommended.” — R.C. Robinson, Choice

“The introduction by the editors is excellent and the essays are of a uniformly high quality, with several taking 'Bergsonian' thought into new territory. Both Bergson scholars and those new to his work will find much here that will stimulate thinking.“ — Keith Robinson, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

“Those new to Bergson will ?nd ?rst-rate introductions, written by leading scholars, to Bergson’s relation to the humanities and social sciences. Those already initiated into Bergson scholarship will ?nd their thought ignited anew as these expert voices advance a dimension of Bergson’s thought overlooked in these salad days of Bergson studies.” — Michael R. Kelly, French Studies

“Will be warmly welcomed by students of early twentieth century polemological, political psychological and perhaps political ecological action as well.”  — Paul Timmermans, Political Studies Review

"The strength of this book is the way that it remedies the scholarly neglect of Henri Bergson's political and religious thought, especially as found in his last book, The Two Sources of Morality and Religion. Together, these essays provide a more well-rounded view of Bergson's complete project and show how he can contribute to rethinking a number of current issues in sociological, political, and religious thought." — John Protevi, author of Political Affect: Connecting the Social and the Somatic

"This timely collection offers the most sustained and expansive investigation to date of Henri Bergson's understanding of the political and of religion. Critical essays by respected scholars of Bergson's multifaceted work are preceded by a superb, rigorously argued, and lucid introductory analysis of his guiding concepts and intuitions. The collection as a whole invites us to reconsider what a truly Bergsonian 'actualization of philosophy within politics' looked like during Bergson's time, as well as what further promise it may contain for the diplomatic, deliberative, and radically democratic challenges that face us today. It shows too how deeply Bergson's pragmatic lesson relied on his increasing awareness of the resources of the religious archive, particularly of mysticism. As such, this book offers a remarkable new point of departure in the ongoing and all too predictable controversies concerning religion and politics, nationalism and internationalism, war and peace." — Hent de Vries, author of Philosophy and the Turn to Religion


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Alexandre Lefebvre is Lecturer in the Department of Government and International Relations and the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sydney. He is the author of The Image of Law: Deleuze, Bergson, Spinoza.

Melanie White is Senior Lecturer in Social Theory at the School of Social Sciences, University of New South Wales.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Abbreviations ix

Introduction: Bergson, Politics, and Religion / Alexandre Lefebvre and Melanie White 1

Part I: Closed and Open

1. The Closed and the Open in The Two Sources of Morality and Religion: A Distinction That Changes Everything / Frédéric Worms 25

2. Bergson, the Void, and the Politics of Life / Suzanne Guerlac 40

3. Equally Circular: Bergson and the Vague Inventions of Politics / John Mullarkey 61

4. The Art of the Future / Claire Colebrook 75

Part II: Politics

5. Bergson as Philosopher of War and Theorist of the Political / Philippe Soulez 99

6. Anarchy and Analogy: The Violence of Language in Bergson and Sorel / Hisashi Fujita 126

7. Asceticism and Sexuality: "Cheating Nature" in Bergson's The Two Sources of Morality and Religion / Leonard Lawlor 144

8. Creative Freedom: Henri Bergson and Democratic Theory / Paulina Ochoa Espejo 159

9. Bergson's Critique of Practical Reason / Carl Power 174

10. Bergson and Human Rights / Alexandre Lefebvre 193

Part III: Religion and Mysticism

11. Bergson and Judaism / Vladimir Jankélévitch 217

12. Bergson and Nietzsche on Religion: Critique, Immanence, and Affirmation / Keith Ansell-Pearson and Jim Urpeth 246

13. Assurance and Confidence in The Two Sources of Morality and Religion: A Sociological Interpretation of the Distinction between Static Religion and Dynamic Religion / Frédéric Keck 265

14. Tuning into Other Worlds: Henri Bergson and the Radio Reception Theory of Consciousness / G. William Barnard 281

15. James, Bergson, and an Open Universe / Paola Marrati 299

Bibliography 313

Contributors 325

Index 327
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5275-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5256-3
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