Decolonizing Bergson: The temporal schema of the open and the closed

In Andrea Pitts & Mark William Westmoreland (eds.), Beyond Bergson: Examining Race and Colonialism through the Writings of Henri Bergson. Albany, NY, USA: SUNY Press. pp. 13-35 (2019)
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Abstract
I attend to the temporal schema of open/closed by examining its elaboration in Bergson's philosophy and critically parsing the possibilities for its destabilization. Though Bergson wrote in a colonial context, this context barely receives acknowledgement in his work. This obscures the uncomfortable resonances between Bergson's late work, The Two Sources of Morality and Religion, and the temporal narratives that justify French colonialism. Given Bergson's uptake by philosophers, such as Gilles Deleuze, and by contemporary feminist and political theorists (especially “new materialists”), a critical re-examination is called for. The Two Sources not only introduces a new dichotomy into Bergsonian philosophy—that of open/closed—it puts an end to the movement of duration by defining its possibilities as goals already given in advance. By turning the tools of Bergsonian critique onto The Two Sources, I propose an alternative to the open/closed—that of the “half-open”—creating in this way the conditions for decolonizing duration.
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Archival date: 2019-08-13
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