Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
This paper will explore the contours of Bergson’s early intimations of an “ethics” made visible in his address on Politesse (1885/1892). In an effort to further elucidate what such an ethics might entail, the paper traces how grace and sympathy, two concepts that play a central role in the address, are taken up and rethought in the context of his influential Essai sur les donnees immediates de la conscience (1889). Juxtaposing this early work with his more explicit engagement with morality in his final book – Les deux sources de la morale et de la religion (1935) – the early roots of Bergson’s call for an open, dynamic, and creative understanding of moral experience are made clear. The paper concludes with some brief reflections on the significance of Bergson’s interventions for the contemporary ethical-turn in the field.