prof. dr. Gertrudis Van de Vijver


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  • 2024

    • Judging organization : a plea for transcendental logic in philosophy of biology

      Van de Vijver, G., & Haeck, L. (2024). Judging organization : a plea for transcendental logic in philosophy of biology. In M. Mossio (Ed.), Organization in biology (Vol. 33, pp. 59–84).
      Even if the concept of organization is increasingly recognized as crucially important to (philosophy of) biology, the fear of thereby collapsing into vitalism, understood as the metaphysical thesis that “life” involves special principles irreducible to (and that perhaps even run counter to) the principles governing the physical order, has persisted. In trying to overcome this tension, Georges Canguilhem endorsed an attitudinal form of vitalism. This “attitudinal stance” (a term coined by Charles Wolfe) shifts the issue of organization away from ontological commitments regarding the nature of things as they are in themselves, in favor of epistemological issues concerning the stance of the knowing subject. However, it is based on some epistemological tenets that deserve further examination. Firstly, in spite of its anti-Cartesian spirit, the attitudinal stance implicitly relies on a Cartesian perspective on the relation between subject and object. Secondly, it rests on the idea that some objects can meaningfully be identified as persisting individuals—living organisms—in a way in which others cannot, even if it denies that the capacity to be meaningfully identified as such reflects an actual property of them. This chapter outlines a possible alternative viewpoint that takes these challenges to heart by developing a co-constitutive picture of the relation between subject and object—a picture based on Georges Canguilhem’s own theory of judgment, but supplemented by Immanuel Kant’s transcendental logic. Most fundamentally, it is argued that the (self-)organization of living beings draws attention to and is structurally intertwined with the (self-)organization of the thinking subject’s rational (i.e., logical, conceptual, judging) capacities.
  • 2023

    • Encore, 50 years later (editorial)

      Van de Vijver, G. (2023). Encore, 50 years later (editorial) (G. Van de Vijver, Ed.).
    • Embarrassments of knowledge : a philosophical comment on Lacan's Formulae Of Sexuation

      Van de Vijver, G. (2023). Embarrassments of knowledge : a philosophical comment on Lacan’s Formulae Of Sexuation. PSYCHO-ANALYTISCHE PERSPECTIEVEN, 41(2), 171–186.
      This paper articulates the idea that the drive to know is the key to sexuality, and that sexuality is the key to subjectivation. It approaches Lacan’s formulae of sexuation starting from the background of Frege’s distinction between function (predicate) and object (argument) on the one hand, and propositional function and quantifier on the other hand. On this basis, the two sides of the Lacanian formulae are interpreted as ‘the all predicative’, le tout prédicat on the one hand, and the courage of the indecision on the other. That a radically escaping point is not without subjective effect, and does make a difference, epistemologically, ontologically and ethically, is what these formulae are seen to illustrate. Where possible, a comparison is being made with Kant’s transcendental philosophy and logics.
    • Over wat formele anticipatie vermag : het object in Kant en Wittgenstein

      Van de Vijver, G. (2023). Over wat formele anticipatie vermag : het object in Kant en Wittgenstein. ALGEMEEN NEDERLANDS TIJDSCHRIFT VOOR WIJSBEGEERTE, 115(2), 166–179.
      This article discusses the affinity between Kant’s notion of objectivity and Wittgenstein’s view on the limitations of language by addressing both philosophers’ relation to the constitutive space at work in a transcendental logic. For both, the system and conceptual room hosting the activity of subjective conditionality is dynamically connected to what can be seen as an object in response to the heterogeneity between concepts and sensibility. In his work On the Genealogy of Universals. The Metaphysical Origins of Analytic Philosophy (2018) Fraser MacBride makes a plea for the importance of Kant in the history of the origin of analytical philosophy, more specifically, the philosophies of Russell, Moore and Wittgenstein. He nevertheless does so in an inadequate way, because he understands Kant from a realist perspective striving to see ‘objects’ as an awaiting reality ‘out there’ to be made our own. Contrary to that, we make the case that a transcendental dynamics of a ‘lost’ primordial captivity is at work in the process of the constitution of objects. We look into Wittgenstein’s notion of substance and the problematic subreptitious exchange between the notions of substance and attribute on the one hand and the relation between the particular and the universal according to MacBride on the other. We propose that both Kant and Wittgenstein sharpen the awareness for the transcendental anticipatory activity of a presupposition, to be seen as a crucial moment within pure formalization and logical strictness, built on a minimal ontology of openness to what is determinable within the action of determination, opposite to a realism of what is simply determined as ‘what is the case’ without taking into account the constituting subject-pole.
    • Canguilhem’s divided subject : a Kantian perspective on the intertwinement of logic and life

      Haeck, L., & Van de Vijver, G. (2023). Canguilhem’s divided subject : a Kantian perspective on the intertwinement of logic and life. In G. Bianco, C. Wolfe, & G. Van de Vijver (Eds.), Canguilhem and continental philosophy of biology (Vol. 31, pp. 123–146).
      By reappraising the biological theory of vitalism, Canguilhem attempted to give pride of place to the idea that acquiring knowledge about living beings is an activity of living beings. Canguilhem’s legacy is exactly this: rationality is rooted in life, not the other way around. And yet, in “Le concept et la vie” (from 1966) and “De la science et de la contre-science” (from 1971), Canguilhem seems to tell another story about the complex intertwinement of life and rationality. Not only are we condemned to enter the realm of rationality (i.e., to take part in logical activities such as forming concepts and judgments about the world and about our own condition) because we have needs and desires as living beings, but we also have needs and desires as living beings that depend on the fact we are always already caught up in the dynamics of rationality, i.e., always already logically active. At this point, Canguilhem’s thinking comes closer than ever to a Kantian, transcendental point of view on rationality. Paradoxically, the inscription of human rationality in organic life brings with it the idea of a subject, divided between two inverse but correlated realms in which it cannot but participate: the singular realm of sensibility and the general realm of logic.
    • Canguilhem and continental philosophy of biology

      Bianco, G., Wolfe, C., & Van de Vijver, G. (Eds.). (2023). Canguilhem and continental philosophy of biology.
      This edited volume presents papers on this alternative philosophy of biology that could be called “continental philosophy of biology,” and the variety of positions and solutions that it has spawned. In doing so, it contributes to debates in the history and philosophy of science and the history of philosophy of science, as well as to the craving for ‘history’ and/or ‘theory’ in the theoretical biological disciplines. In addition, however, it also provides inspiration for a broader image of philosophy of biology, in which these traditional issues may have a place. The volume devotes specific attention to the work of Georges Canguilhem, which is central to this alternative tradition of “continental philosophy of biology”. This is the first collection on Georges Canguilhem and the Continental tradition in philosophy of biology. The book should be of interest to philosophers of biology, continental philosophers, historians of biology and those interested in broader traditions in philosophy of science.
    • Encore, 50 years later

      Van de Vijver, G. (Ed.). (2023). Encore, 50 years later.
    • Introduction

      Bianco, G., Wolfe, C. T., & Van de Vijver, G. (2023). Introduction (G. Bianco, C. Wolfe, & G. Van de Vijver, Eds.).
      In this Introduction we lay out the context of a ‘Continental philosophy of biology’ and suggest why Georges Canguilhem’s place in such a philosophy is important. There is not one single program for Continental philosophy of biology, but Canguilhem’s vision, which he referred to at one stage as ‘biological philosophy’, is a significant one, located in between the classic holism-reductionism tensions, significantly overlapping with philosophy of medicine, philosophy of technology and other themes moving away from the more common existential and phenomenological motifs of post-war European thought. Chapters examine (among other themes) his relation to Lebensphilosophie, to authors such as Kant, Nietzsche and Marjorie Grene, and to current theoretical biology
  • 2022

    • Universaliteit 'En Droit De Logique'

      Van de Vijver, G. (2022). Universaliteit “En Droit De Logique.”
    • Tijdens het lezen van Kants Zum ewigen Frieden

      Acosta, E., & Van de Vijver, G. (2022). Tijdens het lezen van Kants Zum ewigen Frieden. PSYCHO-ANALYTISCHE PERSPECTIEVEN, 40(2), 555–571.
      In this paper, we propose an alternative reading of Kant's Towards Perpetual Peace that stresses the ideological moment of his cosmopolitan and perpetual peace project. On the basis of our reading, we conclude that i) according to Kant every humanitarian and/or cosmopolitan discourse needs a grand narrative (ideology) for convincing and mobilizing people, and ii) contemporary cosmopolitan and humanitarian discourses lack precisely this grand narrative and, consequently, the convincing power every political project requires according to Kant.

Type :

  • Book chapter
  • Other
  • Journal article
  • Edited book
  • All

Keywords :

  • Kant,
  • Canguilhem,
  • Need satisfaction,
  • Vitalism,
  • Logic,
  • Life,
  • Divided subject,
  • Philosophy of biology,
  • Sexuality,
  • Wittgenstein