Marxism and Epistemology: Bachelard, Canguilhem and Foucault by Dominique Lecourt

By Dominique Lecourt

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Extra resources for Marxism and Epistemology: Bachelard, Canguilhem and Foucault

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The project justified, a number of questions remain to be posed, a few observations to be proposed, before entering·into the heart of the texts. First observation: it is clear that the judgement: 'One decade of our period is worth centuries of previous periods' can only be formulated by a recurrent thought. In dealing with his philosophy, therefore, we have to proceed by recurrence, too. But it is self-evident that it will be a fragmentary recurrence: to be completely faithful to Bachelard's teaching would force us to examine the period of the history of the sciences which he dealt with in the light of the latest developments in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry.

It is for this reason, according to Bachelard, that the history of the sciences cannot be a history 'just like all the others'. The first effect of this double characteristic: a whole type of investigation is disqualified; the work which consists of looking for precursors for every scientific discovery. Thus in AppliedRationaliso/, Bachelard attacks those who saw Hegel as a precursor of Maxwell: 'There is nothing in the philosophy of a Schelling or a Hegel to prepare the synthesis of the domains of electricity and optics....

Each being needs its correct time, its concrete duration, its individual duration, to grow and to produce. If so, when one can accuse the time that languishes, the vague ambiance which fails to mature, the soft inner pressure which idles, one has all one needs to explain from the inside the accidents of the experiment. 79 This reference to Bergson is not the only one in the book on this point; besides, it is one of Bachelard's constant procedures to compare certain contemporary philosophical theses with pre-scientific texts.

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