, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 341-357

Organism, normativity, plasticity: Canguilhem, Kant, Malabou

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Abstract

Some of Catherine Malabou’s recent work has developed her conception of plasticity (originally deployed in a reading of Hegelian Aufhebung) in relation to neuroscience. This development clarifies and advances her attempt to bring contemporary theory into dialogue with the natural sciences, while indirectly indicating her engagement with the French tradition in philosophy of science and philosophy of medicine, especially the work of Georges Canguilhem. I argue that we can see her development of plasticity as an answer to some specific shortcomings in Canguilhem’s conception of organic or biological normativity as advanced in The Normal and the Pathological. Such a view of plasticity shows its potential to provide the basis for a powerful critical engagement with contemporary conceptions of selfhood, self-transformation, subjectivation, and the general theory of norms.