Foucault, cavaillès, and Husserl on the historical epistemology of the sciences

Perspectives on Science 11 (1):107-129 (2003)
: This paper discusses the origins of two key notions in Foucault's work up to and including The Archaeology of Knowledge. The first of these notions is the notion of "archaeology" itself, a form of historical investigation of knowledge that is distinguished from the mere history of ideas in part by its unearthing what Foucault calls "historical a prioris". Both notions, I argue, are derived from Husserlian phenomenology. But both are modified by Foucault in the light of Jean Cavaillès's critique of Husserl's theory of science. On Husserl's view, we demand that propositions holding of scientific objects be intersubjective and invariant, but this demand conflicts with our immediate experience, which is essentially bound to a subject's perspective. Thus the mathematical and physical sciences must utilise formal languages to fix these truths independently of the thoughts of a particular subject. This necessary procedure leads to the sedimentation of these formal systems: we forget their source in the concrete experiences of individuals, and use them as purely technical means. The technique of reactivating the intentional acts in which sedimented formal systems originated is thus, in Fink's terminology, an archaeological method. Foucault and Cavaillès retain the general outlines of this archaeology of the sciences, but they reject its appeal to conscious acts of meaning, to what Cavaillès calls "the philosophy of consciousness". I conclude by discussing the implicit difficulties in the "linguistic transcendentalism" proposed as an alternative by these French critics of Husserl
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1162/106361403322286724
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 28,208
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Les mots et les choses. [REVIEW]M. Foucault - 1969 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 74:250.
Das Problem der Phänomenologie Edmund Husserls.Eugen Fink - 1939 - Revue Internationale de Philosophie 1 (2):226-270.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

57 ( #92,517 of 2,172,771 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

4 ( #75,840 of 2,172,771 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums