- Series: Routledge Classics
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (May 19, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0415253853
- ISBN-13: 978-0415253857
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 47 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,081,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Madness and Civilization (Routledge Classics) 2nd Edition
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'Michel Foucault's Madness and Civilization has been, without a shadow of a doubt, the most original, influential, and controversial text in this field during the last forty years. It remains as challenging now as on first publication.' - Roy Porter
About the Author
Michel Foucault (1926-1984) Celebrated French thinker and activist who challenged people's assumptions about care of the mentally ill, gay rights, prisons, the police and welfare.
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I don't think that I need to say very much about the book itself. Foucault studies attitudes towards insanity throughout history, with particular attention to how the treatment of the mad was reflected by the current popular narrative about madness. The book is often cited as being against psychiatric institutions. After reading it, I tend to see that as an overstatement. I think that he is more or less simply raising the question as to whether what we see as "scientific" treatments for mental illness are not actually bearing out implicit societal biases about the nature of this kind of disease. In the model he examines, the romanticization of madness is dangerous but so is a view of madness as lack of discipline or moral fibre (for example). I think that it would be dangerous to extrapolate too much authorial meaning from the way that he addresses the subject.
I have read Foucault before, and I nearly always have the same reaction to his work. While he was clearly a brilliant man and while he has many interesting things to say, I do sometimes find there to be something quite glib about his thinking. Even here, in what is possibly his most famous work, there are moments where I felt as though he was poised to really dive into something interesting and instead moves on. Certainly thought-provoking, I will admit. But still somehow Madness and Civilization was not entirely satisfying.
I wish that he had included a bibliography. Also, he discusses so much about painting that it would be useful for the edition to contain a few prints. But these are minor quibbles.
This manuscript by Foucault will either complicate or simplify your comprehension of Derrida; but it should be understood that the two thinkers are closely related in their approach to phenomenology.
"Madness" appeared in France in 1964. Derrida's "Grammatology" appeared in France in 1967 (just three years later). Although they differed in their appropriation of Descartes; Derrida professed a considerable appreciation for Foucault's work on "Madness".
FOUCAULT NTRODUCED THE IDEA OF NEGATING THE CLASSICAL NOTION OF LOGOS that Derrida adapted. It is a first moment to be articulated in this text. From there, the self engages passage on the "ship-of-fools" in search of entering the City-of-Reason"; or "Notion" of the true. The "figuration-of-image" takes place as the self dis-embarks the ship of fools at an inlet river of figuration. It is here where the mast of the ship bears the transplanted "tree-of-knowledge", and the madmen gather around it to form the figuration of possible entrance into "Reason".
From here, the self transitions to the "haunted-workhouses" of the 17th century; metaphorically representing the dokounta threshold of the necessary transition point to "Reason". Here the self learns the "rhythm-of-collective-life" and prepares for transition.
"Notion" is unique for Foucault and is metaphorically represented by the absurd practice of putting the madmen on exhibition, as a presentation of their "nature". These exhibitions were ordered and supervised by attendants; but eventually the madmen practiced self-exhibition; a self-actualizing presentation of their "natures".
From here, Foucault transitions through the "HINGE-OF-ANMALITY"; which is the madman reduced to animal status; and stripped of all content. This is justified as a "kindness-of-Nature".
From this point on; madness enters the cognitive domain. But there is a need here for some form of metamorphosis of the idea of madness itself. Thus emerges the concept of the Christ-Event.
The Christ-Event for Foucault takes up "madness" within the godhead itself through the suffering and representation of madness by Christ during the passion experiences. This, alone defines our essential "Praxis" as a quest for forming an authentic disposition of "body-state" or motivational base.
"Logos-proper", therefore gets an interesting articulation: PASSION leads to dispersed imprinting of the bodily members; which in turn leads to a concentration of this somatic-imprinting into an image for "inscribing" into the "psyche". Logos is this "reciprocal-pulsation".
This all leads to DELIRIUM, which is articulated madness in language. While including the element of "otherness" or transcendence that the collateral axons of the brain afford (Foucault uses neuro-psychology throughout his text).
There are numerous correlations with Derrida here; and it helps underscore Derrida's trajectory of thought. I found the manuscript informative and a clarification of Derrida, and an insight to early interpretations of madness and insanity. 5 stars; and, I am sure you will enjoy this manuscript.