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Canguilhem’s critique of Kant: bringing rationality back to life

Brilman, Marina (2018) Canguilhem’s critique of Kant: bringing rationality back to life. Theory, Culture & Society, 35 (2). pp. 25-46. ISSN 0263-2764

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0263276417741674


Canguilhem’s contemporary relevance lies in how he critiques the relation between knowledge and life that underlies Kantian rationality. The latter’s Critique of Pure Reason and Critique of Judgment represent life in the form of an exception: life is simultaneously included and excluded from understanding. Canguilhem’s critique can be grouped into three main strands of argument. First, his reference to concepts as preserved problems breaks with Kant’s idea of concepts regarding the living as a ‘unification of the manifold’. Second, Canguilhem’s vital normativity represents life as the potential to resist normative orders that judge the living, relegating Kant’s ‘lawfulness of the contingent’ to a ‘mediocre regularity’. Third, Canguilhem’s introduction of the environment as a ‘category of contemporary thought’ decentres the living/knowing subject and introduces contingency. His idea of the ‘knowledge of life’ leads to the conclusion that life is the condition of possibility of rationality, rather than rationality’s ‘blind spot’.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2017 SAGE Publications
Divisions: Law
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
K Law > K Law (General)
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2018 10:18
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2024 18:54

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