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July 27, 1994

A Vital Rationalist: Selected Writings From Georges Canguilhem

Author Affiliations

Northwestern University Evanston, Ill

JAMA. 1994;272(4):321. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520040083052

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Georges Canguilhem, born in 1904, is still not as well known outside France as his most illustrious student, Michel Foucault, yet he is without doubt one of France's two most important philosophers of science (the other is Gaston Bachelard, his teacher). His contributions, in particular, to the history and theory of medicine and biology are equalled only, perhaps, by those of Henry Sigerist. This book is a carefully edited selection of texts, mostly drawn from The Normal and the Pathological (1950, 1966), La Connaissance de la Vie (1952), La Formation du Concept de Reflexe aux XVIIe et XVIIIe Siècles (1955), Études d'Histoire et de Philosophie des Sciences (1968), and Ideology and Rationality in the History of the Life Sciences (1977); but it also includes a number of other writings, important journal studies translated here for the first time.

Part 1 of the book takes up questions of methodology relevant to

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