Shelves: adventures-in-thought Bachelard is very difficult to talk about or review. His writing is like a flame but somehow a soft flame that would never burn too terribly in that there is Bachelard is very difficult to talk about or review. Yet behind all this gauzy unspecificity is an active needle-sharp mind, probing and probing, obsessed with origins and the root of all things. The title of this particular book is somewhat deceiving.

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He was a professor at the University of Dijon from to and then was appointed chair in the history and philosophy of science at the University of Paris. In the English-speaking world, the connection Bachelard made between psychology and the history of science has been little understood.

One task of epistemology is to make clear the mental patterns at use in science, in order to help scientists overcome the obstacles to knowledge. Through his concept of "epistemological break", Bachelard underlined the discontinuity at work in the history of sciences.

However the term "epistemological break" itself is almost never used by Bachelard, but became famous through Louis Althusser. He showed that new theories integrated old theories in new paradigms , changing the sense of concepts for instance, the concept of mass , used by Newton and Einstein in two different senses. Thus, non-Euclidean geometry did not contradict Euclidean geometry , but integrated it into a larger framework. The role of epistemology in science[ edit ] Bachelard was a rationalist in the Cartesian sense, although he recommended his "non-Cartesian epistemology" as a replacement for the more standard Cartesian epistemology.

This explains why "The electric bulb is an object of scientific thought… an example of an abstract-concrete object. Epistemology is thus not a general philosophy that aims at justifying scientific reasoning.

Instead it produces regional histories of science. Shifts in scientific perspective[ edit ] Bachelard saw how seemingly irrational theories often simply represented a drastic shift in scientific perspective. For instance, he claimed that the theory of probabilities was just another way of complexifying reality through a deepening of rationality even though critics like Lord Kelvin found this theory irrational.

In non-Cartesian epistemology, there is no "simple substance" as in Cartesianism , but only complex objects built by theories and experiments, and continuously improved VI, 4.

Intuition is therefore not primitive, but built VI, 2. These themes led Bachelard to support a sort of constructivist epistemology. In philosophy, this nocturnal side of his work is developed by his student Gilbert Durand.


The Psychoanalysis of Fire

This essay was part of an effort that reconnected research on pre-Socratic philosophy with the question of the fundamental constituents of the world, the "elements. He also attempted to circumscribe existence with a profound imagination imbued with poetic experience that transcends the individual imagination of the subject. For Bachelard the phenomenon of fire is situated at this crossroads of science and poetry. In his preface, he writes, "I am going to examine a problem in which objectivity has never held sway, where the initial seduction is so compelling that it deforms the most rational minds and leads them to the cradle of poetry, where daydreams replace thought, where poems hide theorems. This is the psychological problem presented by our convictions about fire.


Gaston Bachelard



Psychoanalysis of Fire


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