Synopses & Reviews
At the time of his death in 1995, Georges Canguilhem was a highly respected historian of science and medicine, whose engagement with questions of normality, the ideologization of scientific thought, and the conceptual history of biology had marked the thought of philosophers such as Michel Foucault, Louis Althusser, Pierre Bourdieu, and Gilles Deleuze. This collection of short, incisive, and highly accessible essays on the major concepts of modern medicine shows Canguilhem at the peak of his use of historical practice for philosophical engagement. In order to elaborate a philosophy of medicine, Canguilhem examines paramount problems such as the definition and uses of health, the decline of the Hippocratic understanding of nature, the experience of disease, the limits of psychology in medicine, myths and realities of therapeutic practices, the difference between cure and healing, the organism's self-regulation, and medical metaphors linking the organism to society. Writings on Medicine is at once an excellent introduction to Canguilhem's work and a forceful, insightful, and accessible engagement with elemental concepts in medicine. The book is certain to leave its imprint on anthropology, history, philosophy, bioethics, and the social studies of medicine.
Thanks to the translation and careful introduction by Stefanos Geroulanos and Todd Meyers, this precious posthumoulsy edited collection of essays by Georges Canguilhem is now accessible to the English reader. Canguilhem's late writings on medicine form an important complement to his works on the history and epistemology of the life sciences as assembled in his Etudes and in his late work on Rationality and Ideology in the Life Sciences.Hans-Jrg Rheinberger
Celebrated as historian of the life sciences and epistemologist of the normal and the pathological, Georges Canguilhem, in this series of little known essays, proves also to be a critical observer of medicine and a reflexive analyst of the concept of health. One should be grateful to Stefanos Geroulanos and Todd Meyers for continuing their systematic translation of the often dispersed but coherent works of the French philosopher, whose influence on major contemporary thinkers and social scientists is increasingly acknowledged.-Didier Fassin
The beauty of Canguilhem's definition of health-of normality-is that it includes the animate and inanimate environment, as well as the physical, mental, and social dimensions of human life. It puts the individual patient, not the doctor, in a position of self-determining authority to define his or her health needs. The doctor becomes a partner in delivering those needs. Canguilhem's definition is liberating. Adaptability frees us to be agile in the face of shifting forces that shape the wellbeing of individuals and populations. Canguilhem's definition also allows us to respond to disease globally, taking account of the context of conditions in a particular place, as well as time.-The Lancet
About the Author
Trained in philosophy and medicine, Georges Canguilhem (1904-1995) remains one of France's most influential philosophers of science. Stefanos Geroulanos is Assistant Professor of Modern European Intellectual History at New York University. He is the author of An Atheism That Is Not Humanist Emerges in French Thought and the co-translator of Georges Canguilhem's Knowledge of Life (Fordham). Todd Meyers is Assistant Professor of Medical Anthropology at Wayne State University and the co-editor of Georges Canguilhem's Knowledge of Life (Fordham).