Posted by: Rajesh Shukla | July 20, 2010

On Foucault’s crisis of madness


“Lord! what demonic hyperbole ?” –Glaucon

There is no Trojan horse unconquerable by reason. The unsurpassable, unique and imperial grandeur of the order of reason, that which makes it not just another actual order of structure(a determined historical structure, one structure among other possible ones) is that one can not speak out against it except by being for it, that one can protest it only from within it; and within its domain, Reason leaves us only the recourse to strategems and strategies. The revolution against reason, in the historical form of classical reason ( but the latter is only a determined example of Reason in general, and because of this oneness of Reason the expression ‘history of reason’ is difficult to conceptualize, as is also, consequently a history of madness), the revolution against reason can be made only within it, n accordance with Hegelian law to which I my self was very sensitive in Foucalt, despite the absence of any precise reference to Hegel. Since the revolution against reason, from the moment it is articulated, can operate only within reason, it always has the limited scope of what is called precisely in the language of a department of internal affairs, a disturbance…[…]

{ After this Derrida investigates Foucalt reason that deconstructs Cartesian cogito that we first find in ‘order of thing’ which was carried on in every work and in ‘histoire de la folie’ he finishes with reason and madness. His engagement with Descartes has been instigated by Derrida very critically.}

To define philosophy as the attempt-to-say- the-hyperbole is to confess —-and philosophy is perhaps this gigantic confession–that by virtue of historical enunciation through which philosophy tranquilizes itself and excludes madness, philosophy also betrays itself (or betrays itself as thought) enters into a crisis and a forgetting of itself. that are essential and necessary period of its movement. I philosophize only in terror, but in the confessed terror of going mad. The confession is simultaneously at its present moment, oblivion and unveiling, protection and exposure: economy.

But this crisis in which reason is madder than madness–for reason is nonmeaning and oblivion–and in which madness is more rational than reason, for it is closer to the wellspring of sense, however silent or murmuring –this crisis has always begun and interminable.  It suffices to say that, if it is classic, it is not in the sense of the classical age but in the sense of eternal and essential classicism, and is also historical in an unexpected sense.

And nowhere else and never before has the concept of crisis been able to enrich and reassemble all its potentialities, all energy of its meaning as much, perhaps, as in Michel Foucault.

–(Derrida in Cogito and History of Madness- on Foucault) This is a best criticism of Foucault’s notion of literary and philosophical madness so far. )

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