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Physis: Revista de Saúde Coletiva

On-line version ISSN 1809-4481


PUTTINI, Rodolfo Franco  and  PEREIRA JUNIOR, Alfredo. Beyond mechanism and vitalism: the "normativity of life" according to Georges Canguilhem. Physis [online]. 2007, vol.17, n.3, pp.451-464. ISSN 1809-4481.

We discuss the epistemology of the sciences of life and health elaborated by Georges Canguilhem. First we review his criticism to mechanicist concepts of normality and pathology, and his position regarding vitalism. We suggest that, when emphasizing the concept of "normativity of life", Canguilhem goes beyond the dichotomy of mechanism and vitalism. We make a brief comparison of his concept of "normativity of life" with the contemporary concept of "self-organization" proposed by Michel Debrun, arguing that the emergency of the vital norm occurs on the second stage of the process of life self-organization and therefore such normativity does not have the vitalist connotation erroneously attributed to Canguilhem.

Keywords : normativity of life; normal; pathological; mechanism; vitalism; self-organization.

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