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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: November 2019

Chapter 11 - Bergson’s Philosophy of Religion


Summarizing the results of Bergson’s inquiry into the realities generally referred to under the heading “religion,” the chapter identifies what Bergson calls the “specifically religious element” as love (the mystics’ word for the élan vital) in action. To account for its possibility, the chapter turns to Bergson’s use of the term “conversion,” which he consistently employs to describe qualitative change, and articulates the mystic experience as a conversion that aims at a creative transformation of humanity. The very terms in which Bergson couches this conversion call up and shed new light on major themes of Bergson’s philosophy, including liberty, the élan vital, and philosophical intuition. The conclusion of the essay addresses Bergson’s problematic “conversion” to Catholicism as an instance of love in action.