History of madness

English language

Published July 30, 2009

ISBN:
978-0-415-47726-0
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4 stars (9 reviews)

Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason (French: Folie et Déraison: Histoire de la folie à l'âge classique, 1961) is an examination by Michel Foucault of the evolution of the meaning of madness in the cultures and laws, politics, philosophy, and medicine of Europe—from the Middle Ages until the end of the 18th century—and a critique of the idea of history and of the historical method. Although he uses the language of phenomenology to describe the influence of social structures in the history of the Othering of insane people from society, Madness and Civilization is Foucault's philosophic progress from phenomenology toward something like structuralism (a label Foucault himself always adamantly rejected).

3 editions

Review of 'Madness and Civilization' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

I'm reading Foucault without any other guidance than his bibliographic chronology so of course this means I'm completely missing out on a lot of his subtle points and inferences. I still found this book interesting and articulate. The larger idea of madness being increasingly put under the microscope of rationality only to reveal, chillingly, that it was rational man's obsessive search for his own image being sought in the madness is a mind blower. Although abstruse, Foucault has such a knack for grounding complicated, subtle arguments into examples that even though I'm sure I missed a great deal that this work has to offer I came away with enough to encourage me to keep reading his books... so I will.

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