Historical epistemology: a broader and more complex view

Chimisso, Cristina (2024). Historical epistemology: a broader and more complex view. In: Whistler, Daniel and Sinclair, Mark eds. The Oxford Handbook of Modern French Philosophy. Oxford Handbooks. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

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This article examines the French tradition in philosophy of science called historical epistemology. It considers not only the philosophies of Gaston Bachelard and Georges Canguilhem, but also the diverse positions of Léon Brunschvicg, Hélène Metzger, Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, Abel Rey, Alexandre Koyré and Émile Meyerson on a number of epistemological and historiographical questions, including epistemological breaks, epistemological obstacles, scientific revolutions, and the roles of rationality and emotions in science. It argues that a broader approach to the understanding of historical epistemology beyond the customary focus on Bachelard and Canguilhem, and a consideration of the oft-neglected differences between these two philosophers, show a richer and more diverse tradition, uncovers hidden legacies, including in Thomas Kuhn’s philosophy, and crucially will provide current philosophers with a wealth of ideas and intellectual tools.

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