MORALITY IN EVOLUTION. The Moral Philosophy of Henri Bergson

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1 MORALITY IN EVOLUTION The Moral Philosophy of Henri Bergson

2 MORALITY IN EVOLUTION THE MORAL PHILOSOPHY OF HENRI BERGSON by IDELLA J. GALLAGHER Universitv of Ottawa SPRINGER-SCLENCE+BUSINESS MEDIA, B.V.

3 ISBN ISBN (ebook) DOI / <CJ 1970 by Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht Originally published by Martinus Nijholl. The Hague. Netherlands in 1970 AII rights reserved, including the right to Irans/ale or 10 reproduce Ihis book or paris Ihereof in any form

4 TO DONALD, PAUL AND MARIA

5 PREFACE Les Deux Sources de la Morale et de la Religion is not a book to leave one indifferent. Those who are persuaded by its argument or inspired by its message are prone to manifest the same enthusiasm as Georges Cattaui who praised it as one of the greatest and wisest books conceived by philosophers. Even those who take exception to the doctrine it expounds are impelled to acknowledge its significance. It was in his critique of Les Deux Sources that Jacques Maritain was moved to call the philosophy of Henri Bergson one of the most daring and profound of our time. When many years ago I opened Les Deux Sources for the first time, I turned out of curiosity to the last page and beheld these words, "l'univers... est une machine it faire des dieux." Bergson was an evolutionist, but surely this was no ordinary evolutionist speaking, I thought. What must be the moral philosophy of a man who would write these words? When much later I undertook the present study, it was this same question which concerned me. Bergson's approach to the subject of morality is far from the conventional approach. The individual who undertakes a study of his thought can therefore expect to find it highly complex and innovative. Starting out from the viewpoint of evolution and from an anti-rationalist bias, he followed a method at once intuitive and thoroughly empirical to invent an unusual and, in fact, revolutionary doctrine of the nature of morality. Utilizing information from the fields of biology, anthropology, sociology, psychology and a variety of other sources, including mysticism and psychical research, he created an extraordinary synthesis which has added vast new dimensions both to the theory of evolution and to moral philosophy.

6 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS For passages cited from ECRITS ET PAROLES by Henri Bergson. Textes rassembles par Rose-Marie Mosse-Bastide. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, Volumes II and III. For passages cited from BERGSON by Vladimir Jankelevitch. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, For passages cited from ENTRETIENS AVEC BERGSON by Jacques Chevalier. Paris: Librairie PIon, For passages cited from CREATIVE EVOLUTION by Henri Bergson. Translated by Arthur Mitchell. London: Macmillan & Co., 191I. For passages cited from MIND-ENERGY: LECTURES AND ESSAYS by Henri Bergson. Translated by H. Wildon Carr. London: Macmillan & Co., For passages cited from THE CREATIVE MIND by Henri Bergson. Translated by Mabelle L. Andison. New York: Philosophical Library, For passages cited from THE TWO SOURCES OF MORALITY AND RELIGION by Henri Bergson. Translated by R. Ashley Audra and Cloudesley Brereton with the assistance of W. Horsfall Carter. Copyright 1935, (c) 1963 by Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.

7 CONTENTS CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION I I CHAPTER II. SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE AND THE INTUITION OF DURATION 16 The Intuition of Duration 17 Critique of Intellect 21 CHAPTER III. THE NEW PHILOSOPHY 27 Philosophy: The Whole of Experience 29 Spirit: Subject Matter of Philosophy 32 Intuition: Method of Philosophy 33 CHAPTER CHAPTER CHAPTER IV. THE EVOLUTIONARY BACKGROUND OF MORALITY The Elan Vital and Creative Evolution Intellect and Intuition in Evolution The Goal of Evolution - A Divine Humanity V. THE BIOLOGICAL ORIGIN OF MORAL OBLIGATION Obligation and Social Pressure Morality and Freedom VI. STATIC AND DYNAMIC MORALITY Moral Obligation and the Closed Society Moral Progress and the Open Society CHAPTER VII. THE RATIONALITY OF MORALITY Reason and the Morality of Obligation Reason and the Morality of Aspiration CHAPTER VIII. THE EVOLUTION OF MORALITY Moral Progress CHAPTER IX. CONCLUSION SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY INDEX

8 "... society therefore is not self-explanatory; so we must search below the social accretions, get down to Life, of which human societies, as indeed the human species altogether, are but manifestations. But this is not going far enough; we must delve deeper still if we want to understand, not only how society 'constrains' individuals, but again how the individual can set up as a judge and wrest from it a moral transformation. If society is self-sufficient, it is the supreme authority. But if it is only one of the aspects of life, we can easily conceive that life, which has had to set down the human species at a certain point of its evolution, imparts a new impetus to exceptional individuals who have immersed themselves anew in it, so that they can help society further along its way. HENRI BERGSON The Two Sources of Morality and Religion

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