The ambivalence of error: "scientific ideology" in the history of the life sciences and psychosomatic medicine

Greco, Monica. 2004. The ambivalence of error: "scientific ideology" in the history of the life sciences and psychosomatic medicine. Social Science & Medicine, 58(4), pp. 687-696. ISSN 02779536 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This paper discusses the concept of ‘‘scientific ideology’’ as it appears in the work of the historian and philosopher of
medicine Georges Canguilhem, whose work is becoming increasingly well known and used amongst anglophone social
scientists. Whilst addressing the problematic of legitimacy and illegitimacy in the history of science, the concept of
‘‘scientific ideology’’ does something different and more complex than either the opposition between science and false
science, or the one between orthodoxy and heresy, allow for. On the one hand, it enables us to preserve a crucial
acknowledgment of the specificity of science in general, and of medical science in particular. On the other hand, it also
allows us to challenge the sharp contrast between science and non-science by setting that contrast in a diachronic
perspective. Drawing also on the work of Isabelle Stengers, the last part of the paper discusses an application of the
concept of scientific ideology in relation to the field of psychosomatic medicine and psychoneuroimmunology.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Canguilhem, History of science, science, Psychosomatic medicine, Psychoneuroimmunology

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology > Centre for Study of Invention and Social Process (CSISP) [2003-2015]


1 February 2004Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

12 Mar 2009 15:42

Last Modified:

04 Jul 2017 15:57

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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