Bachelard, Lacan and the Impurity of Scientific Formalization

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Abstract

This essay examines the conjunction of French historical epistemology and Lacanian theory in postwar France. In particular, Lacan's account of scientific formalization is scrutinized insofar as it develops aspects of the prior epistemological research of Gaston Bachelard, whose innovative approach to the problem of the nature and limits of scientific knowledge proved so influential on the subsequent field of French structuralism. Lacan's reflections on formalization will be shown, in contrast to Bachelard, to place an emphasis on the constitutive and limiting role of language in its interaction with logical and scientific projects. In asking how Lacan's structural psychoanalysis extends and subverts the rationalist emphasis of French philosophy of science, I hope to provide a new optic through which to assess the role of formalization in critical theory today.

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Tom Eyers
Duquesne University

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