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In: Hegel's Philosophy of the Historical Religions

Abstract

Why Does Bergson Understand Religion From the Perspective of Mysticism?

In his book Bergson makes first of all the distinction between closed societies, with a static religion, and open societies with the dynamic religion. In fact those dynamic religions are the world religions, and they are understood from the perspective of mysticism. Bergson does not accept the opposition between a mystical and a technical worldview. To the contrary, they are related to each other, especially in Christianity, by the virtue of charity. Charity, and therefore technics, is the practical dimension of mysticism. From the perspective of the mystical experience, an intuition of unity with the totality, Bergson tries to rethink the proof of the existence of God, the immortality of man and the theodicy. Modern man, as a technical man represents a special phase in the history of the evolution of nature and its divine ‘elan vital’. It is a phenomenon in which nature shows a new dimension of itself. Because the technical dimension enlarges man’s capacity of transcendence of the sense of given reality, it creates new possibilities for mystical experience. Modern man needs this mysticism because only mysticism can be the soul within the body of the technical world created by man.

In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society
Japan, Russia, and Turkey are major examples of countries with different ethnic, religious, and cultural background that embarked on the path of modernization without having been colonized by a Western country. In all three cases, national consciousness has played a significant role in this context. The project of Modernity is obviously of European origin, but is it essentially European? Does modernization imply loss of a country’s cultural or national identity? If so, what is the “fate” of the modernization process in these cases? The presence of the idea and reality of civil society can be considered a real marker of Modernity in this respect, because it presupposes the development of liberalism, individualism and human rights. But are these compatible with nationalism and with the idea of a national religion?
These questions are the more pressing, as Japan is considered part of the Western world in many respects, and Russia and Turkey are defining their relation to the European Union in different ways. An investigation of these three countries, set off against more general reflections, sheds light on the possibilities or limitations of modernization n a non-European context.