Foucault's Archaeology: Science and Transformation

By David Webb | Go to book overview

3. JEAN CAVAILLÈS: GROUNDING THOUGHT IN
ITS OWN HISTORY

Jean Cavaillès can be placed in the series of epistemologists and philosophers of science that runs from Brunschvicg via Bachelard, Koyre and Canguilhem to Foucault. In a now well-known remark, Foucault identifies this group as forming a second tradition of phenomenology in twentieth-century French philosophy alongside that constituted by the French reception of Husserl and Heidegger, and the original contributions of Merleau-Ponty, Levinas and others.17 It may well be that in charting this second tradition of phenomenology in France, Foucault indicates at least as much about his own orientation as about the philosophers he names, since their relation to phenomenology is not immediately obvious. Foucault appears to regard Brunschvicg, Bachelard, Cavaillès, Koyre and Canguilhem as indicating a possible approach to the analysis of experience that is not grounded in the subject. Bearing in mind what Foucault writes about the analysis of actual experience in The Order of Things (see above pp. 9–11), such an approach would repeat a function previously performed by phenomenology, but in a quite different way. A line drawn roughly between the work of the five figures to whom Foucault refers will therefore be at best parallel to phenomenology, and may arguably converge towards it. If so, the point at which it intersects might lie in the work of Cavaillès. In fact, Cavaillès

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Foucault's Archaeology: Science and Transformation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Abbreviations vii
  • Acknowledgements viii
  • Introduction 1
  • Background 5
  • 1- To What Problem Does the Archaeology of Knowledge Respond? 7
  • 2- Gaston Bachelard- Construction and Temporal Discontinuity 11
  • 3- Jean Cavaillès- Grounding Thought in Its Own History 16
  • 4- Michel Serres- Mathematics, Epistemology, History 22
  • 5- Michel Serres- Atomism 28
  • 6- The Mathematical a Priori 31
  • 7- Temporal Dispersion 34
  • Commentary on the Archaeology of Knowledge 39
  • Part I - Introduction 41
  • Part II - The Discursive Regularities 48
  • Part III - The Statement and the Archive 85
  • Part IV - Archaeological Description 120
  • Part V - Conclusion 152
  • Closing Remarks 159
  • Notes 166
  • Selected Bibliography 174
  • Index 178
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