Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: Bachelard, Gaston from Chambers Biographical Dictionary


French philosopher

Born in Bar-sur-Aube, he had an unusual range of interests and influence in the history of science, psychoanalysis and literary criticism, which were connected in such works as La Psychoanalyse du feu (1937, "Psychoanalysis of Fire") and La Flamme d'une chandelle (1961, "The Flame of a Candle").

Summary Article: Bachelard, Gaston
From The Columbia Encyclopedia

(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).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2018

Related Articles

Full text Article Gaston Bachelard (1884–1962) and Georges Canguilhem (1904–1995): Epistemology in France
The Edinburgh Encyclopaedia of Modern Criticism and Theory

In the English-speaking world the name Gaston Bachelard is associated with an excavation of the phenomenology of the poetic imagination. In...

Full text Article Gaston Bachelard (1884-1962)
Handbook of the Philosophy of Science: Philosophy of Chemistry

Bachelard's epistemology is often presented as a philosophy based on mathematics and physics. Without denying the importance of these two disciplin

Full text Article Bachelard, Gaston
Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Philosophers

French, b: June 1884, Bar-sur-Aube, France, d: October 1962, Paris. Cat: Scientist; critic, Ints: Philosophy of science and of...

See more from Credo