Long before Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions, the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard wrote that science was about perceptions and politics as much as ever-improving models of an objective reality. The «rupture épistémologique». anticipated the “paradigm shift”.
His dense prose is not easy reading, but thought-inspiring if we give him a chance.
C’est parce que nous nous unifions autour de notre nom et de notre dignité – cette noblesse du pauvre – que nous pouvons transporter sur l’’avenir l’unité d’une âme. La copie que nous refaisons sans cesse doit d’ailleurs s’améliorer, ou bien le modèle inutile se ternit et l’âme, qui n’est qu’une persistance esthétique, se dissout.
— Gaston Bachelard
It is because we pull an identity together in the name of our dignity — the pauper’s peerage — that we are able to convey a unified soul, moment by moment, into the future. The replications of self which we manufacture must also be constantly improving, lest the old model becomes tarnished, and the soul, which is but an aesthetic conceit, dissolves.
— tr JJM
Gaston Bachelard was born this day in 1884.
Nothing about his intellectual journey had been orthodox, particularly as measured against the rigid norms of French academic life and advancement. — Ben Allanach writing for Aeon