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Gaston Bachelard


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French philosopher of science, largely self-taught, who from 1940 to 1955 was the professor of history and philosophy of science at the Sorbonne in Paris. Bachelard propounds a view of science not as a gradually increasing total body of truth, but as an active dialogue between reason and experiment, in which scientific facts become as much the creation of the rational mind as one of its discoveries. The philosophie du non or ‘philosophy of negation’ in which his conception of scientific progress is encapsulated bears some affinities with the falsificationism of Popper, at least in so far as on both theories the scientist stands prepared to dispose of elements of his structure when recalcitrant experience forces him to do so, the result being an increasing consolidation of theory. However, Bachelard's own works explore the dynamics of the imagination from within a psychoanalytic framework. His work was also an influence on Kuhn, whilst his romantic view of the inquirer extended to works on psychoanalysis, symbol, dream, and poetry, in which realms a person's secret being resides, beyond the reach of thought, laws, and human values. His voluminous works include La Psychanalyse du feu (1937, trs. as The Psychoanalysis of Fire, 1964).

Subjects: Philosophy

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