2020-03Discussion Papers, Comments, Book Reviews
Revitalizing Bergson Within the Horizons of Race and Colonialism


/Review: Andrea J. Pitts and Mark William Westmoreland, eds. Beyond Bergson: Examining Race and Colonialism Through the Writings of Henri Bergson (New York: State University of New York Press, 2019), 255 pages./

Among Bergson’s contributions to philosophical and empirical investigations; such as those centered on freedom, memory, and evolution; exists in the form of his last book, The Two Sources of Morality and Religion. It is interesting because, as many readers of Bergson have remarked, it does not seem to fit well, primarily in method, with his other endeavors in the pursuit of philosophical exploration and elaboration. Having been mentored by a philosopher who holds this position, I have long shied away from the text that represents Bergson’s last concerted philosophical effort of inquiry. Meanwhile, having been intrigued by the possibility of a more just world and compelled by a desire to serve such an end, I was interested in envisioning what a Bergsonian philosophy of social justice, revolution, or morality would contain. Early on in my readings of Bergson, I felt the seeming applicability of Bergson’s method of intuition to moral and social questions. Over the years, I have devoted significant time to thinking through durational investigations of intensity to problems of social justice. While I have made some inroads to accomplishing this goal, I feel the journey has just begun for me. It was in this context that I was excited at the prospect of this book, and it is this book that has helped me to appreciate some of the ways that Bergson’s philosophy could be adapted to thinking through moral and social questions. To be clear, much work has been done in the way of expounding political or moral philosophies in which Bergson’s thought might be interpreted as a prelude. My reluctance to embrace Two Sources has been a self-imposed hindrance to my engaging in those extra-Bergsonian works for fear of running against the current of Bergson’s earlier texts. My reticence is intended to be taken as neither a slight of Bergson’s Two Sources nor a discounting of those who find inspiration in that work.

How to cite:

August III, John W. “Revitalizing Bergson Within the Horizons of Race and Colonialism.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 4, no. 3 (2020):  136-144. https://doi.org/10.14394/eidos.jpc.2020.0037.


John W. August III
Department of Philosophy, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Faner Hall, Mail Code 4505, 980 Faner Drive, Carbondale, IL 62901, USA

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