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Noam Chomsky is typical of scientists who believe that the life history of people in their field has nothing to add to our understanding of their work and ideas. Starting from statements Chomsky has made to this effect, this chapter gives counter-evidence from the life and work of the linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, the philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty and others. Due recognition is however given to various risks the scientific biographer faces, starting from the fact that, in order to bring the subject of the biography to life, one has to risk filling in certain lacunae that an historical account would leave empty. But the risk is worth running, given the level of insight that a good biography can bring to our understanding of why scientific ideas have taken the precise form they have.
|Translated title of the contribution||History in Flesh and Blood: Managing the Risks of Biography|
|Title of host publication||Entre Vie et Théorie|
|Subtitle of host publication||La Biographie des Linguistes dans l’Histoire des Sciences du Langage|
|Editors||Valentina Bisconti , Cécile Mathieu|
|Place of Publication||Limoges|
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 1 Apr 2017|