Spiritual concepts

Elan vital

Élan vital, was a term coined by French philosopher Henri Bergson in his 1907 book Creative Evolution.

Bergson was ridiculed at the time for his concept, but it shares almost exactly the same properties, as he defines it, as energy and spirit  and the similar but differently named concepts use by Emmanuel Swedenbourg, Teilhard de Chardin, Lao Tzu, the Chinese, the Hindus, the Greek philosophers including Plato and Pythagoras, Hazrat Inayat Khan, Baruch Spinoza, Sir Arthur Eddington and Sir James Jeans.  The term was translated into English as "vital force" and Bergson linked it closely with consciousness.

As very few people were able to grasp the meaning of Bergson’s description, a whole raft of extremely stupid conclusions was drawn about it because people thought it could be physically detected – was just another form of energy like electromagnetic energy – and so could be ‘harnessed’.