Mark Olssen
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Life and error
Foucault, Canguilhem, Jacob
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Chapter 2 starts with a brief history of life philosophy and moves to explore Foucault’s enumeration of the concepts of life and error that he finds in Georges Canguilhem’s work. Foucault’s central thesis here is further reinforced in relation to his review and assessment of François Jacob's history of biology. The sense in which life philosophy can ground an immanent metaphysics that maintains a coherent normative focus but that varies contingently in terms of the relation between life and its environment is then explored. It is shown how such a conception also avoids vitalism. Similarities with the view expressed here are then noted in Foucault's writings on life in The History of Sexuality and The Courage of Truth. The implications of a normative conception of life are then briefly canvassed to demonstrate how life sets its own limits, and how the problems associated with moral relativism can be overcome.

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