Similarities, Differences, and Missed Connections between Thomas S. Kuhn, Gaston Bachelard and the Continental Historiography of Science

Alberto Fragio 1
  • 1 Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana – Unidad Cuajimalpa, , Mexico City


According to the American philosopher, Michael Friedman, while triggering the so-called “historical turn,” Kuhn reinstated the history of science as perhaps the most important object for the philosophy of science. In this paper, I show that this reinstatement is rather a rehabilitation of the philosophical and epistemological uses of the history of science, something already present in the continental historiography of science in the first half of the twentieth century, and especially in Gaston Bachelard’s work. In this sense, I undertake a review of the European history and philosophy of science during that period, paying special attention to Gaston Bachelard as one of the leading representatives of the French historical epistemology of the 1930s. I conclude with the late and quite problematic reception of Bachelard’s thought in the early work of Thomas S. Kuhn. My thesis is this strand may help to outline what is continental history and philosophy of science.

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