Normativity & Typification
The Twofold Concept of Normativity in Canguilhem
Abstract In this paper the author addresses the topic of twofold understanding of normativity in Georges Canguilhem’s writings. In the 1966 appendix to the book The Normal and the Pathological, Canguilhem proceeds from Kant’s distinction between scholastic and cosmopolitan concepts in order to apply it to the difference between notions of the norm and the normal. Canguilhem, however, reads “the cosmopolitan” as “the cosmic and popular.” Hence the norm is according to him a scholastic notion, whereas the normal is a cosmic and popular one. This seems to be contrary to Kant’s intentions, because the scholastic concept signifies rather an exercitation or training of reason, whereas it is the cosmopolitan concept which touches the essential goals of humankind. The author of the paper tries to explain Canguilhem’s application of Kantian concepts and talks about the twofold normativity described by Canguilhem: “the scholastic” and “the cosmopolitan.” The first of them is considered as an institution of the best system of norms (standards or units) important for practical and common life. The second normativity refers to the fact that human beings follow their own (vital as well as social) norms, which might be flexibly changed during their lives and which are often in conflict with the norms of others. We can form society either by a normativity dictating strictly delimited rules or standards (with the intention of creating a perfect social system, but including a lower freedom of individual), or by a normativity which enables human beings to live according...
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