© 2019

Georges Canguilhem and the Problem of Error


  • Fills a gap in the market: Few books explore the relationship between Georges Canguilhem and Michel Foucault, despite the significance of the relationship and Canguilhem’s influence on Foucault’s thought

  • Presents and represents the culmination of substantial new archival research, giving readers a view into Canguilhem’s unpublished courses on error, among other things

  • Will hold wide appeal for a broad range of scholars in various philosophy sub-disciplines (including history of philosophy, philosophy of medicine, philosophy of science, French continental philosophy, epistemology) as well as Foucault scholars


About this book


Examining Georges Canguilhem’s enduring attention to the problem of error, from his early writings to Michel Foucault’s first major responses to his work, this pathbreaking book shows that the historian of science was also a centrally important philosopher in postwar France. Samuel Talcott elucidates Canguilhem’s contributions by drawing on previously neglected publications and archival sources to trace the continuity of commitment that led him to alter his early anti-vitalist, pacifist positions in the face of political catastrophe and concrete human problems. Talcott shows how Canguilhem critically appropriated the philosophical work of Alain, Bergson, Bachelard, and many others while developing his own distinct writings on medicine, experimentation, and scientific concepts in an ethical and political endeavor to resist alienation and injustice. And, while suggesting Canguilhem’s sometimes surprising philosophical importance for a range of younger thinkers, the book demonstrates Foucault’s own critical allegiance to Canguilhem’s spirit, techniques, and investigations.


Georges Canguilhem Michel Foucault Medicine Philosophy of medicine Continental philosophy French philosophy

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HumanitiesUniversity of the SciencesPhiladelphiaUSA

About the authors

Samuel R. Talcott is Associate Professor of Philosophy at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, USA.

Bibliographic information


“Samuel Talcott’s work … proposes a somewhat more speculative interpretation by following the way in which the concept of error unfolds and progressively colonizes Canguilhem’s entire intellectual production. … merit of Samuel Talcott’s book is not only related to the effort to provide a systematic reading but also to the fact that it retraces the manner in which the problem of error is articulated in the early works of Canguilhem, which are not so well known to the general public.” (‪Codrin Tăut, Foucault Studies, Issue 30, June, 2021)