Regulation, Milieu, and Norms: Georges Canguilhem’s Individual Organisms as Relations


16 juin 2021

15h00 - 17h00


The CEFISES Center is pleased to announce the ninth session of the Life & Cognition seminar series in 2020/2021.

Our invited speaker will be Prof. Arantza Etxeberria Agiriano, IAS Research Group on Life, Mind, and Society, Department of Philosophy, University of the Basque Country, UPV/EHU.

The talk will take place on line, on 16/06/21 - 15h00-17h00.


This presentation will address Georges Canguilhem’s views on biological individuality and will contend that this topic was a central focus of his philosophical ideas on life and health and had a major impact on his ideas on other issues. His work mainly develops within the physiological tradition of the life sciences, and understands the biological organism as “a relation, and not a particular type of being”. Canguilhem’s views of individuality are examined in the context of his writings on three significant concepts: regulation (how the order of the organic being is achieved and maintained); milieu (how the environment is conceived with respect to organism, and what is its role in defining values); and norms (which appear as the potentialities and creativity of meaningful life: at the crossroads between physiology and ecology, and changing in ontogenetic time). Accordingly, norms are not fully grasped by descriptive science, but require an understanding of oriented organisms whose health trajectories can change in their lifetime. Canguilhem’s notion of organism is relational in that it establishes a connection between physiological regulation, vital needs and ecological aspects, thus enacting meaning and values. Canguilhem’s views not only “anticipate” a number of recent contributions on “the relational aspects of the organization of living beings”, but support conceptions of biological individuals that encompass physiological and psychological aspects within ecological and social milieus.

This presentation will be based on a published article:

[Etxeberria, A. (2020) Regulation, milieu, and norms: Georges Canguilhem’s individual organisms as relations, in: Pierre-Olivier Methot, Jonathan Sholl Eds. Vital Norms. Canguilhem’s The Normal and the Pathological in the Twenty-First Century, Hermann Ed., pp. 291-328.]

The ninth session of the Life and cognition seminar series will take place on 16/06/21, on line. Invited speaker : Prof. Arantza Etxeberria Agiriano from University of the Basque Country, UPF/EHU

Categories Events: