Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Short Summary&Overview: Two Sources of Morality and Religion / Bergson

The Two Sources of Morality and Religion is a work by French philosopher Henri Bergson published in 1932 .

This is the last work of the philosopher. His reflection on morality led him to discuss the sociological approaches of his time ( Émile Durkheim , Lucien Lévy-Bruhl ) with particular emphasis on the concept of obligation which he placed at the heart of interindividual relations.

He poses the still famous distinction between "open society" and "closed society" (which will be taken up from another perspective by the epistemologist Karl R. Popper ). The last chapter of Two Sources of Morality and Religion  sets out the author's vision for the future and contains the famous passage on the "supplement of soul" which the body would be waiting for, following the extraordinary possibilities conferred on it by the technique. This reflection is placed under the sign of the mechanical / mystical duality:

“So let us not limit ourselves to saying, as we did above, that mysticism calls mechanics. Let us add that the enlarged body expects a supplement of soul, and that the mechanics would require a mystique. The origins of this mechanism are perhaps more mystical than one would think; it will not regain its true direction, it will render services proportionate to its power, only if the humanity which it has bent still more towards the earth manages through it to straighten itself up, and to look at the sky. "

And this look at "heaven" announces the concluding sentence (which has remained as famous as the "soul supplement"), on "the essential function of the universe, which is a machine for making gods." Because, from start to finish, the central question is that of the mysticism which deifies beings.