Mustafa Sekip Tunc, Bergsonian Conservatism, and Passive Revolution


BEYTULHIKME-AN INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY, vol.11, no.1, pp.139-154, 2021 (ESCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 11 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.18491/beytulhikme.1590
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Central & Eastern European Academic Source (CEEAS), Index Islamicus, Philosopher's Index, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.139-154
  • Recep Tayyip Erdoğan University Affiliated: Yes


The 1930s in Turkey is a highly controversial socio-political topic with two main competing interpretations: the liberal-positivists consider the 1930's transformation as a progressive move whereas conservative-idealists regard it as a top-down break from tradition and history. However, there are other readings that bridge these two positions. To analyze one of these, this study establishes links between Mustafa Sekib Tunc (1886-1958), a Turkish psychologist and philosopher, the French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859-1941), the French sociologist Emile Durkheim (1858-1917), and the Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937). It does this through the latter's concept of "passive revolution" to contribute to the understanding of Turkey's socio-political transformation during the 1930s. The main argument is that Tunc's anti-empiricist and anti-positivist philosophy, based on Bergson's spiritualist and biologist-holisticism, meets with Durkheim's positivist collectivism. This enables Tunc to interpret the 1930s' passive revolution as a "conservative revolution" that found its expression in the formulation of the "unprivileged-classlessfused-mass" and an "organic society". Tunc, following Bergson, conceives history and society biologically, as a socio-functional whole that helps mask sociopolitical divisions and struggles within the society.