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sartre stance on madness

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  • sava
    Sartre s stance on madness. Interesting topic. Hmm, well, like with everything said in philosophy, we need to consider things in perspective here. If we are
    Message 1 of 35 , Nov 13, 2006
      Sartre's stance on madness. Interesting topic. Hmm,
      well, like with everything said in philosophy, we need
      to consider things in perspective here. If we are
      looking for a "stance", a position, a quote that would
      provide hard evidence that Sartre's position on
      madness was of this or that nature, a few lines quoted
      here and there that would allow us to put together a
      nice little thematic folder: "Sartre's stance on
      madness", well, then we would be simplifying things.

      In my opinion, there is no upright stance of Sartre on
      madness, hence no stance at all. (if stance means
      originally to stand upright, straight, unbent,
      untwisted). Two things though stand out, throughout
      Sartre's writings, especially in rather early Sartre.
      That he refuses to use the term "mental illness", and
      that he refuses to recognize objective truth to
      madness. Both positions may seem to converge, and they
      do converge to a certain point, but they also diverge
      from one another. To refuse to recognize objective
      truth to madness - and Sartre writes throughout An
      outline of a theory of emotions, The Imaginary, Being
      and Nothingness, his novel, The chamber, that there is
      no "true" madman, that madness is a behaviour of
      bad-faith - this may seem like a rationalistic
      cartesian exclusion of madness, much like the one
      Foucault talks about in Madness and Civilisation. But
      then for Sartre to refuse to treat madness as a mental
      illness is not only a logical consequence of an
      a-priori rationalistic position, it is also contrary
      to rationalism, since it refuses to adopt the point of
      view of objectification of madness by the structures
      of alienation, of control and discipline, that are the
      medical structures.

      But then, also, what does it mean, first of all, to
      say that there is no "true madman", when the core of
      the philosophical project of Sartre is a redefinition
      of truth as objective criteria? We must consider here
      the priority given by Sartre to the imaginary, and to
      subjectivity. And subjectivity is choice, and creation
      of the imaginary out of the negation of the real.
      Then, if we choose to be mad, we also choose to be
      reasonable, and there is no difference then between
      madness and reason, as being both manifestations of
      our subjectivity. Sartre's position then doesnt look
      anymore as an objectification of madness from the
      point of view of reason, but the elevation of madness
      to the same dignity as reason. Madness seen by Sartre
      as a playful conduct, as poetry, as love of failure as
      the affirmation of a higher success, is an anti-dote
      against the spirit of gravity. Madness is a deeper
      manifestation of our subjectivity.

      We cannot say then that for Sartre subjectivity cannot
      be mad, but that even mad, subjectivity retains all
      its value. We must read here Sartre in conjunction
      with Foucault, and also with Derrida's reply to
      Foucault, "The Cogito and the history of madness". If
      Sartre does not give up the Cogito, but on the
      contrary his whole philosophy reads like a
      generalisation of the Cogito (the extension of the
      reflective Cogito to the pre-reflexive, or unreflexive
      level), then we have here a hyperbolical Cogito. The
      hyperbole of the Evil Genius where reason and madness
      coexist and change into one another. The primacy given
      to the imaginary would allow us here to coin something
      like "I think, therefore I'm mad." If for Sartre, we
      feign to be mad, we then also feign to be thinking.


      --- Tommy Beavitt <tommy@...> wrote:

      >
      > On 12 Nov 2006, at 16:39, scarey1917 wrote:
      >
      > > Here's an interesting quote from Sartre's 1969
      > interview "Itinerary of
      > > a Thought": "The conception of 'lived experience'
      > marks my change
      > > since "L'Etre et Le Neant". My early work was a
      > rationalist philosophy
      > > of consciousness. It was all very well for me to
      > dabble in apparently
      > > non-rational processes in the individual, [but]
      > the fact remains
      > > that "L'Etre et Le Neant" is a monument of
      > rationality. But in the end
      > > it becomes an irrationalism, because it cannot
      > account rationally for
      > > those processes which are 'below' consciousness
      > and which are also
      > > rational, but lived as irrational."
      >
      > Logic can only ever prove its own self-certainties.
      > However, I don't
      > know if that, being true, necessarily makes L'ĂȘtre
      > et le neant a
      > "monument of irrationality".
      >
      > What have we got, other than our own
      > self-certainties? Even "lived
      > experience", in order to be communicated, needs
      > self-certainty.
      >
      > I still think that Being and Nothingness is Sartre's
      > finest work. But
      > it is understandable that, over a lifetime, he would
      > tend to reflect
      > on its inadequacies.
      >
      > Tommy
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been
      > removed]
      >
      >




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    • sava
      Sartre s stance on madness. Interesting topic. Hmm, well, like with everything said in philosophy, we need to consider things in perspective here. If we are
      Message 35 of 35 , Nov 13, 2006
        Sartre's stance on madness. Interesting topic. Hmm,
        well, like with everything said in philosophy, we need
        to consider things in perspective here. If we are
        looking for a "stance", a position, a quote that would
        provide hard evidence that Sartre's position on
        madness was of this or that nature, a few lines quoted
        here and there that would allow us to put together a
        nice little thematic folder: "Sartre's stance on
        madness", well, then we would be simplifying things.

        In my opinion, there is no upright stance of Sartre on
        madness, hence no stance at all. (if stance means
        originally to stand upright, straight, unbent,
        untwisted). Two things though stand out, throughout
        Sartre's writings, especially in rather early Sartre.
        That he refuses to use the term "mental illness", and
        that he refuses to recognize objective truth to
        madness. Both positions may seem to converge, and they
        do converge to a certain point, but they also diverge
        from one another. To refuse to recognize objective
        truth to madness - and Sartre writes throughout An
        outline of a theory of emotions, The Imaginary, Being
        and Nothingness, his novel, The chamber, that there is
        no "true" madman, that madness is a behaviour of
        bad-faith - this may seem like a rationalistic
        cartesian exclusion of madness, much like the one
        Foucault talks about in Madness and Civilisation. But
        then for Sartre to refuse to treat madness as a mental
        illness is not only a logical consequence of an
        a-priori rationalistic position, it is also contrary
        to rationalism, since it refuses to adopt the point of
        view of objectification of madness by the structures
        of alienation, of control and discipline, that are the
        medical structures.

        But then, also, what does it mean, first of all, to
        say that there is no "true madman", when the core of
        the philosophical project of Sartre is a redefinition
        of truth as objective criteria? We must consider here
        the priority given by Sartre to the imaginary, and to
        subjectivity. And subjectivity is choice, and creation
        of the imaginary out of the negation of the real.
        Then, if we choose to be mad, we also choose to be
        reasonable, and there is no difference then between
        madness and reason, as being both manifestations of
        our subjectivity. Sartre's position then doesnt look
        anymore as an objectification of madness from the
        point of view of reason, but the elevation of madness
        to the same dignity as reason. Madness seen by Sartre
        as a playful conduct, as poetry, as love of failure as
        the affirmation of a higher success, is an anti-dote
        against the spirit of gravity. Madness is a deeper
        manifestation of our subjectivity.

        We cannot say then that for Sartre subjectivity cannot
        be mad, but that even mad, subjectivity retains all
        its value. We must read here Sartre in conjunction
        with Foucault, and also with Derrida's reply to
        Foucault, "The Cogito and the history of madness". If
        Sartre does not give up the Cogito, but on the
        contrary his whole philosophy reads like a
        generalisation of the Cogito (the extension of the
        reflective Cogito to the pre-reflexive, or unreflexive
        level), then we have here a hyperbolical Cogito. The
        hyperbole of the Evil Genius where reason and madness
        coexist and change into one another. The primacy given
        to the imaginary would allow us here to coin something
        like "I think, therefore I'm mad." If for Sartre, we
        feign to be mad, we then also feign to be thinking.


        --- Tommy Beavitt <tommy@...> wrote:

        >
        > On 12 Nov 2006, at 16:39, scarey1917 wrote:
        >
        > > Here's an interesting quote from Sartre's 1969
        > interview "Itinerary of
        > > a Thought": "The conception of 'lived experience'
        > marks my change
        > > since "L'Etre et Le Neant". My early work was a
        > rationalist philosophy
        > > of consciousness. It was all very well for me to
        > dabble in apparently
        > > non-rational processes in the individual, [but]
        > the fact remains
        > > that "L'Etre et Le Neant" is a monument of
        > rationality. But in the end
        > > it becomes an irrationalism, because it cannot
        > account rationally for
        > > those processes which are 'below' consciousness
        > and which are also
        > > rational, but lived as irrational."
        >
        > Logic can only ever prove its own self-certainties.
        > However, I don't
        > know if that, being true, necessarily makes L'ĂȘtre
        > et le neant a
        > "monument of irrationality".
        >
        > What have we got, other than our own
        > self-certainties? Even "lived
        > experience", in order to be communicated, needs
        > self-certainty.
        >
        > I still think that Being and Nothingness is Sartre's
        > finest work. But
        > it is understandable that, over a lifetime, he would
        > tend to reflect
        > on its inadequacies.
        >
        > Tommy
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been
        > removed]
        >
        >




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