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Bachelard, Gaston (1884–1962)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DD007-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 08, 2023, from

Article Summary

One indication of the originality of Bachelard’s work is that he was famous for his writings both in the philosophy of science and on the poetic imagination. His work demonstrates his belief that the life of the masculine, work-day consciousness (animus), striving towards scientific objectivity through reasoning and the rectification of concepts, must be complemented by the life of a nocturnal, feminine consciousness (anima), seeking an expanded poetic subjectivity, as, in reverie, it creates the imaginary.

In common with other scientist-philosophers writing in the first half of the twentieth century, Bachelard reflected on the upheavals wrought by the introduction of relativity theory and quantum mechanics. The views at which he arrived were, however, unlike those of his contemporaries; he argued that the new science required a new, non-Cartesian epistemology, one which accommodated discontinuities (epistemological breaks) in the development of science. It was only after he had established himself as one of France’s leading philosophers of science, by succeeding Abel Rey in the chair of history and philosophy of science at the Sorbonne, that Bachelard began to publish works on the poetic imagination. Here his trenchantly anti-theoretical stance was provocative. He rejected the role of literary critic and criticized literary criticism, focusing instead on reading images and on the creative imagination.

Citing this article:
Tiles, Mary. Bachelard, Gaston (1884–1962), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DD007-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2023 Routledge.

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