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Georges Canguilhem, Writings on Medicine

Our own Todd Meyers and Stefanos Geroulanos have translated and edited an exciting new collection of short essays by Georges Canguilhem.  Writings on Medicine includes the essays, “The Idea of Nature in Medical Theory and Practice,” “Diseases,” “Health: Popular Concept and Philosophical Question,” “Is a Pedagogy of Health Possible?” and “The Problem of Regulation in the Organism and in Society,” as well as their own introduction, “Georges Canguilhem’s Critique of Medical Reason.”  Below is the summary from Fordham University Press.  This book is actually just one in the excellent “Forms of Living” series that Todd and Stefanos are editing for Fordham, and which includes Canguilhem’s Knowledge of Life, Pamela Reynolds’ War in Worcester: Youth and the Apartheid State, Catherine Malabou’s The New Wounded: From Neurosis to Brain Damage, Francois Delaporte’s Chagas Disease: History of a Continent’s Scourge and others.  I wish I had the time to make this my summer reading list!

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.

Writings on Medicine, Georges Canguilhem, Translated, with an Introduction by Stefanos Geroulanos, Todd Meyers

$18.00, ISBN: 9780823234325, Forms of Living

Fordham University Press

5 1/2 x 8 1/2, 128 pages, April 2012

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