La biophilosophie de Georges Canguilhem

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ABSTRACT: GEORGES CANGUILHEM’S BIOPHILOSOPHY The eminent French biologist and historian of biology, François Jacob, once notoriously declared «On n’interroge plus la vie dans les laboratoires»: laboratory research no longer inquires into the notion of “Life”. Certain influential French philosophers of science of the mid‐century such as Georges Canguilhem would disagree, or at least seek to resist some of Jacob’s diagnosis. Not by imposing a different kind of research program in laboratories, but by an unusual combination of historical and philosophical inquiry into the foundations of the life sciences. Canguilhem speaks of «defending vitalist biology» and declares that Life cannot be grasped by logic. Is this history and philosophy of biology? Is it vitalism? It definitely is a different project from current philosophy of biology. One short‐lived term for it was “biophilosophy”. In this paper I explore the content of this term as it relates to the above questions.
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