Henri Bergson’s Understanding of Religion and Ethics

Henri Bergson’s Understanding of Religion and Ethics

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

It is seen that Bergson takes a different path from the traditionalist philosophy on ethics. According to him, there are two kinds of morality. One is introverted (closed) morality and the other is extroverted (open) morality. In his work “Carrion deux Sources de la Morale et de la Religion”, he dealt with the problem of morality, together with religion.

The source of closed morality is the relations of instinctive actions with society. These actions, under the constant pressure of social life, took shape spontaneously and gained the quality of a tradition. One acts by following them as in an act of instinct. When there is a conflict between the “I” of the individual and such moral principles, the tension increases and the person resists the society. This type of morality is repressive. On the other hand, open morality is the individual morality that is peculiar to superior people and that emerges in people who are rare in history. The source of this morality is not pressure but inspiration, it has a creative and progressive quality. Its openness is because it encompasses all life. Open morality, which is effective in the development of the sense of freedom, does not have a specific object.

Bergson also gave wide coverage to religion in his work in which he examined the issue of morality, and presented his views on it in detail. According to him, religion, like morality, has two types, two separate sources. Religion is divided into two as “static religion” and “mobile religion”. Static religion is a protection tool developed by nature, which concerns the existence of the person. It is this type of religion that connects the individual to the society in which he lives and provides harmony and unity between the individual and the society. Another source of this religion is the personal functions that morality gives a mythical character. The source of dynamic religion is mysticism. Therefore, it is closely related to the life breakthrough.

Bergson attracted attention with the new problems he brought to contemporary philosophy and the solutions he sought to these problems, and he was especially influential on those who looked at philosophy from the point of view of psychology.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook