Human Rights and the Leap of Love


  • Alexandre Lefebvre



Bergson, The Two Sources of Morality and Religion, human rights, love, joy, political emotions, care of the self


To commemorate the 75th anniversary of Henri Bergson’s death I present what I believe is his most vital and lasting contribution to political philosophy: his conception of human rights. This article has two goals. The first is to present Bergson’s writings on human rights as clearly and simply as possible, so as to reach the wide audience it deserves. The second is to demonstrate his relevance for contemporary human rights scholarship. To do so, I connect him to recent debates in the history and historiography of human rights. I also highlight his distinctive approach to human rights as furnishing a tool for individuals to work upon and improve themselves. For Bergson, the great promise of human rights is that they simultaneously open new possibilities to care for others and also to care for oneself.