Astérion (2019-12-01)

La connaissance vitale de la vie : une parallaxe entre Canguilhem et Plessner

  • Thomas Ebke

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 21


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This contribution aims at the inauguration of a philosophical dialogue between two authors who, until today, have never been linked with one another. The text focuses on a comparison between the philosophical anthropology of Helmuth Plessner (1892-1985) and the historical epistemology of Georges Canguilhem (1904-1995) by intertwining their perspectives in a sequence of three acts: starting with the concept of life, then moving along to the notion of a specific knowledge of life, and finally culminating in the figure of a vital knowledge of life. This guideline is meant to elucidate the genuine parallelism between these two philosophical discourses which, on the level of a sheer genealogical history of ideas, do not seem to be interrelated in any way. Yet, what this essay helps to unveil is the productivity of Canguilhem’s and Plessner’s reflections with a view to a critique of the contemporary life sciences, and also the manner in which their approaches complement and reinforce one another.