Knowledge of Life

Oxford University Press
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As the work of thinkers such as Michel Foucault, Franois Jacob, Louis Althusser, and Pierre Bourdieu demonstrates, Georges Canguilhem has exerted tremendous influence on the philosophy of science and French philosophy more generally. In Knowledge of Life, a book that spans twenty years of his essays and lectures, Canguilhem offers a series of epistemological histories that seek to establish and clarify the stakes, ambiguities, and emergence of philosophical and biological concepts that defined the rise of modern biology. How do transformations in biology and modern medicine shape conceptions of life? How do philosophical concepts feed into biological ideas and experimental practices, and how are they themselves transformed? How does knowledge undo the experience of life so as to help man remake what life has made without him, in him or outside of him?Knowledge of Life is Canguilhem's effort to explain how the movements of knowledge and life come to rest upon each other. Published at the dawn of the genetic revolution and still pertinent today, the book tackles the history of cell theory, the conceptual moves toward and away from mechanical understandings of the organism, the persistence of vitalism, and the nature of normality in science and its objects.
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About the author

Georges Canguilhem (1904-1995) remains one of France's most influential philosophers of science. Stefanos Geroulanos is Assistant Professor of Modern European Intellectual History at New York University. He is the author of An Atheism That Is Not Humanist Emerges in French Thought and the co-translator of Georges Canguilhem's Knowledge of Life (Fordham). DANIELA GINSBURG is a Ph.D. candidate at The Johns Hopkins University Humanities Center. Paola Marrati is Professor of Humanities and Philosophy at The Johns Hopkins University, where she directs the Program for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality. She is the author of Genesis and Trace: Derrida Reading Husserl and Heidegger and Gilles Deleuze: cinma et philosophie. Todd Meyers is Assistant Professor of Medical Anthropology at Wayne State University and the co-editor of Georges Canguilhem's Knowledge of Life (Fordham).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Dec 15, 2008
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Pages
223
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ISBN
9780823237838
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / General
Science / Philosophy & Social Aspects
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Georges Canguilhem
by MICHEL FOUCAULT Everyone knows that in France there are few logicians but many historians of science; and that in the 'philosophical establishment' - whether teaching or research oriented - they have occupied a considerable position. But do we know precisely the importance that, in the course of these past fifteen or twenty years, up to the very frontiers of the establishment, a 'work' like that of Georges Canguilhem can have had for those very people who were separ ated from, or challenged, the establishment? Yes, I know, there have been noisier theatres: psychoanalysis, Marxism, linguistics, ethnology. But let us not forget this fact which depends, as you will, on the sociology of French intellectual environments, the functioning of our university institutions or our system of cultural values: in all the political or scientific discussions of these strange sixty years past, the role of the 'philosophers' - I simply mean those who had received their university training in philosophy department- has been important: perhaps too important for the liking of certain people. And, directly or indirectly, all or almost all these philosophers have had to 'come to terms with' the teaching and books of Georges Canguilhem. From this, a paradox: this man, whose work is austere, intentionally and carefully limited to a particular domain in the history of science, which in any case does not pass for a spectacular discipline, has somehow found him self present in discussions where he himself took care never to figure.
Steven Pinker
“If I could give each of you a graduation present, it would be this—the most inspiring book I've ever read."
—Bill Gates (May, 2017)

Selected by The New York Times Book Review as a Notable Book of the Year

The author of Enlightenment Now and The New York Times bestseller The Stuff of Thought offers a controversial history of violence.

Faced with the ceaseless stream of news about war, crime, and terrorism, one could easily think we live in the most violent age ever seen. Yet as New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker shows in this startling and engaging new work, just the opposite is true: violence has been diminishing for millenia and we may be living in the most peaceful time in our species's existence. For most of history, war, slavery, infanticide, child abuse, assassinations, programs, gruesom punishments, deadly quarrels, and genocide were ordinary features of life. But today, Pinker shows (with the help of more than a hundred graphs and maps) all these forms of violence have dwindled and are widely condemned. How has this happened?

This groundbreaking book continues Pinker's exploration of the esesnce of human nature, mixing psychology and history to provide a remarkable picture of an increasingly nonviolent world. The key, he explains, is to understand our intrinsic motives--the inner demons that incline us toward violence and the better angels that steer us away--and how changing circumstances have allowed our better angels to prevail. Exploding fatalist myths about humankind's inherent violence and the curse of modernity, this ambitious and provocative book is sure to be hotly debated in living rooms and the Pentagon alike, and will challenge and change the way we think about our society.  
Steven Pinker
"My new favorite book of all time." --Bill Gates

"A terrific book...[Pinker] recounts the progress across a broad array of metrics, from health to wars, the environment to happiness, equal rights to quality of life." --The New York Times

If you think the world is coming to an end, think again. Steven Pinker presents the big picture of human progress: people are living longer, healthier, freer, and happier lives, and while our problems are formidable, the solutions lie in the Enlightenment ideal of using reason and science.

Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? In this elegant assessment of the human condition in the third millennium, cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, which play to our psychological biases. Instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This progress is not the result of some cosmic force. It is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing.

Far from being a naïve hope, the Enlightenment, we now know, has worked. But more than ever, it needs a vigorous defense. The Enlightenment project swims against currents of human nature--tribalism, authoritarianism, demonization, magical thinking--which demagogues are all too willing to exploit. Many commentators, committed to political, religious, or romantic ideologies, fight a rearguard action against it. The result is a corrosive fatalism and a willingness to wreck the precious institutions of liberal democracy and global cooperation.

With intellectual depth and literary flair, Enlightenment Now makes the case for reason, science, and humanism: the ideals we need to confront our problems and continue our progress.
Georges Canguilhem
by MICHEL FOUCAULT Everyone knows that in France there are few logicians but many historians of science; and that in the 'philosophical establishment' - whether teaching or research oriented - they have occupied a considerable position. But do we know precisely the importance that, in the course of these past fifteen or twenty years, up to the very frontiers of the establishment, a 'work' like that of Georges Canguilhem can have had for those very people who were separ ated from, or challenged, the establishment? Yes, I know, there have been noisier theatres: psychoanalysis, Marxism, linguistics, ethnology. But let us not forget this fact which depends, as you will, on the sociology of French intellectual environments, the functioning of our university institutions or our system of cultural values: in all the political or scientific discussions of these strange sixty years past, the role of the 'philosophers' - I simply mean those who had received their university training in philosophy department- has been important: perhaps too important for the liking of certain people. And, directly or indirectly, all or almost all these philosophers have had to 'come to terms with' the teaching and books of Georges Canguilhem. From this, a paradox: this man, whose work is austere, intentionally and carefully limited to a particular domain in the history of science, which in any case does not pass for a spectacular discipline, has somehow found him self present in discussions where he himself took care never to figure.
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