Volume 9, Issue 2, Fall 2012
Michael James Bennett
Bergson’s Environmental Aesthetic
This paper investigates the connection between Henri Bergson’s biological epistemology and his moral theory. Specifically, it examines the distinction between the morality of what Bergson calls “closed” and “open” societies in his late work Two Sources of Morality and Religion (1932). I argue that “open” morality provides the moral correlate of a non-instrumentalizing orientation toward nature. Here Bergson’s thought is disposed toward a very specific kind of environmental ethic, an aesthetic one. Bergson’s characterization of open morality, especially in the image of the mystic individual, indicates that through artistic consciousness open morality imitates the creative evolution of life.