I shall start analysing Bachelard from his beard. I believe this is a very appropriate starting point for this book which presents philosophical knowledge as inextricable from its cultural, historical and social setting. By considering philosophy in this way, the distinction between 'philosophical texts' and their 'context' becomes blurred and loses part of its importance. Philosophers and their admirers (or enemies) can be studied as more than authors and readers of philosophical texts. They can be studied as agents who, through their social relationships, contributed to philosophical ideas, to the success of such ideas and the success of themselves as individuals or groups in various ways. Sometimes, philosophers can be examined as the embodiment of values and aspirations, i.e. as symbols, and their bodies become very important. In other words, if philosophy does not belong to the kingdom of disembodied and timeless ideas, beards have a place in philosophy, especially if, like Bachelard's, they are philosophical beards. His beard, his face and his body are known by anybody who has read his work, as they appear on the covers of books by him and about him. The latter often have photographs on plates. Obviously, these photographs did not circulate at the beginning of his career: nobody would expect to see a photograph or a portrait of the author in a PhD dissertation or in somebody's first book. When the body of the author does appear, it can no longer be separated from the content of the book and the readers' perception of it. Interviewed by Christian Delacampagne for the newspaper Le Monde,

Michel Foucault chose to be anonymous. When asked about the reasons for concealing his identity, he said it was:

A face conveys even more messages than a name, especially in societies in which images are a crucial way of communication. In the same interview, Foucault pointed out:

Bachelard's body, reproduced in vanous publications, and commented on, has been a crucial part of his construction as a nearly mythical character. Gaston Bachelard was professor of history and philosophy of the sciences at the Sorbonne, director of the Institut d'Histoire des Sciences et Techiniques, member of the Academie des Sciences Morales et Politiques, and an academic who received many honours including the national Grand Prix des Lettres. Nevertheless, for such a conventionally accepted figure on his death, in Paris in 1962, the obituaries emphasised his unconventionality. His 'public' remembered him as a lonely yet friendly old man, who was fond of the countryside. From many of the descriptions of him written in the Seventies and Eighties, it would be impossible to guess his actual academic position, as it was hardly mentioned. This successful man was constituted as the embodiment of the Philosopher, the Sage and the Patriarch.