Bachelard, Gaston(gästôN` bäshlär`), 1884–1962, French philosopher. He held degrees in physics, mathematics, and philosophy and taught at Dijon (1930–40) and the Univ. of Paris (1940–54). Bachelard regarded knowing as a result of the interaction between reason and experience. He rejected the notion of the empirical world as entirely random or senseless. At the same time he rejected the Cartesian idea that the larger view of reality is preordained and progressively uncovered through the accumulation of new scientific facts. Bachelard argued that new scientific knowledge may lead to a fundamental reformulation of reality, just as the preexisting formulation of reality that the observer imposed on the natural world may have predisposed him to entertain some hypotheses but not others. Given the dialectic of reason and experience, reformulation of reality involves not the rejection but rather the recasting of previous formulations. Bachelard was not, despite his scientific orientation, a thorough-going rationalist; he considered imagination and reverie as well as reason to be creative forces in knowing. Psychoanalysis and literary criticism figure prominently in his work. Among his books are La Psychanalyse du feu (1932; tr. Psychoanalysis of Fire, 1964) and On Poetic Imagination and Reverie (tr. 1971).
See study by M. Tiles (1984).
Born June 27, 1884, in Bar-sur-Aube; died Oct. 16, 1962. French philosopher who laid the foundation of so-called neorationalism. Member of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences (1955).
From 1919 to 1930, Bachelard was professor of physics and chemistry at the College of Bar-sur-Aube. Beginning in 1940 he was head of the department of history and philosophy of science at the Sorbonne and later at the Institute of the History of Science. The basic principle of Bachelard’s philosophy was the concept of “new scientific reason,” which according to Bachelard’s thought, was the expression of the contemporary stage of knowledge. In the spirit of neo-Kantianism, Bachelard argued that an object of scientific knowledge (for example, of contemporary physics) is not a reality but a model that is the result of prior logical and experimental activity. Here the direct facts of nature play the role of “pretexts” for scientific thought, not the role of objects of knowledge (see Le Nouvel Esprit scientifique, Paris, 1934, p. 6). Contact with the real elements of the world is possible by means of creative imagination, which acts through images.
WORKSLe Rationalisme appliqué. Paris, 1949.
Le Matérialisme rationnel. Paris, 1953.
REFERENCESHommage à Gaston Bachelard. Paris, 1957.
Guillet, P. Bachelard: Présentation, choix de textes, bibliographic Paris, 1964.
Dagognet, F. Gaston Bachelard. Paris, 1965.
T. A. SAKHAROVA