Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 November 2019
The chapter argues that Bergson’s vitalism is a pseudo-naturalism that serves as a cover for pursuing a traditional metaphysical project. Bergson seems to work in the same direction as pragmatism to overcome the entrenched opposition between evolutionist, naturalist materialism and exceptionalist, antinaturalist spiritualism, underscoring the continuity between biological life and human social, moral, and political life and at the same time contrasting the latter’s specificity with our species’ biological nature. Yet this does not amount to a naturalist position, for two reasons. First, Bergson reasserts the primacy of mind over matter and articulates a global supernaturalism that fixes the point of departure of nature in a “supraconsciousness” and proposes that the telos of culture lies in the spiritual union of humans in and through the love of God. Bergson’s position is thus a variant of spiritualism, not a naturalist alternative to it. Second, an examination of Bergson’s method of identifying “differences in kind” reveals that the way he integrates humanity into the natural evolution of the species accords perfectly with the foundationalist project of metaphysics to discover a “source,” an antecedent nonhuman reality.