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Postcolonial Bergson$
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Souleymane Bachir Diagne

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780823285839

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823285839.001.0001

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Bergsonism in the Thought of Léopold Sédar Senghor

Bergsonism in the Thought of Léopold Sédar Senghor

(p.21) 1 Bergsonism in the Thought of Léopold Sédar Senghor
Postcolonial Bergson

Souleymane Bachir Diagne

, Lindsay Turner
Fordham University Press

This chapter examines the role of Bergson’s thought in Léopold Sédar Senghor’s philosophy of Negritude, showing how the distinction between modes of perception made by Bergson is integral to Senghor’s characterization of African art. For Senghor, Bergson’s distinction between modes of knowing and perception (an analytic, separating intelligence versus a comprehending or synthetic intelligence) is translated into the distinction between the “reason-eye” characteristic of Western aesthetic perception and the “reason-embrace” integral to the full experience of African art. Recognizing that this distinction between modes is between “two depths of the soul” rather than “two [fundamentally different] souls” not only defends Senghor’s thought against accusations that it is the unacknowledged reprisal of French philosopher and anthropologist Lucien Lévy-Bruhl’s theories of primitive mentality, but also leads away from a relatively common view of this thought as reductively essentializing.

Keywords:   African art, Lévy-Bruhl, Lucien, Negritude, reason-embrace, reason-eye

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