Georges Canguilhem

Georges Canguilhem is Professor Emeritus at the Sorbonne and former director of the Institut d'Histoire des Sciences et des Techniques de l'Université de Paris. His works include La Connaissance de la Vie, Ideology and Rationality in the History of the Life Sciences, and The Normal and the Pathological.

  • A Vital Rationalist

    A Vital Rationalist

    Selected Writings from Georges Canguilhem

    Georges Canguilhem and François Delaporte

    Georges Canguilhem is one of France's foremost historians of science. Trained as a medical doctor as well as a philosopher, he combined these practices to demonstrate to philosophers that there could be no epistemology without concrete study of the actual development of the sciences and to historians that there could be no worthwhile history of science without a philosophical understanding of the conceptual basis of all knowledge. A Vital Rationalist brings together for the first time a selection of Canguilhem's most important writings, including excerpts from previously unpublished manuscripts and a critical bibliography by Camille Limoges. Organized around the major themes and problems that have preoccupied Canguilhem throughout his intellectual career, the collection allows readers, whether familiar or unfamiliar with Canguilhem's work, access to a vast array of conceptual and concrete meditations on epistemology, methodology, science, and history. Canguilhem is a demanding writer, but Delaporte succeeds in marking out the main lines of his thought with unrivaled clarity; readers will come away with a heightened understanding of the complex and crucial place he holds in French intellectual history.

    • Hardcover $28.95 £25.00
    • Paperback $28.95 £25.00
  • The Normal and the Pathological

    The Normal and the Pathological

    Georges Canguilhem

    The Normal and the Pathological is one of the crucial contributions to the history of science in the last half century. It takes as its starting point the sudden appearance of biology as a science in the 19th-century and examines the conditions determining its particular makeup. Canguilhem analyzes the radically new way in which health and disease were defined in the early 19th-century, showing that the emerging categories of the normal and the pathological were far from being objective scientific concepts. He demonstrates how the epistemological foundations of modern biology and medicine were intertwined with political, economic, and technological imperatives. Canguilhem was an important influence on the thought of Michel Foucault and Louis Althusser, in particular for the way in which he poses the problem of how new domains of knowledge come into being and how they are part of a discontinuous history of human thought.

    • Hardcover $36.95 £30.00
    • Paperback $27.95 £22.50

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  • On Logic and the Theory of Science

    On Logic and the Theory of Science

    Jean Cavaillès

    A new translation of the final work of French philosopher Jean Cavaillès.

    In this short, dense essay, Jean Cavaillès evaluates philosophical efforts to determine the origin—logical or ontological—of scientific thought, arguing that, rather than seeking to found science in original intentional acts, a priori meanings, or foundational logical relations, any adequate theory must involve a history of the concept.

    Cavaillès insists on a historical epistemology that is conceptual rather than phenomenological, and a logic that is dialectical rather than transcendental. His famous call (cited by Foucault) to abandon "a philosophy of consciousness" for "a philosophy of the concept" was crucial in displacing the focus of philosophical enquiry from aprioristic foundations toward structural historical shifts in the conceptual fabric.This new translation of Cavaillès's final work, written in 1942 during his imprisonment for Resistance activities, presents an opportunity to reencounter an original and lucid thinker. Cavaillès's subtle adjudication between positivistic claims that science has no need of philosophy, and philosophers' obstinate disregard for actual scientific events, speaks to a dilemma that remains pertinent for us today. His affirmation of the authority of scientific thinking combined with his commitment to conceptual creation yields a radical defense of the freedom of thought and the possibility of the new.

    • Paperback $16.95 £12.99