Re: Fouc. and Witt. Revisited

On Sat, 25 Feb 1995 brehkopf@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:

>[much omitted]
> I guess the point here is, doesn't the method of rational doubt come to
> an end when one moves from verbal doubt to practical doubt, where
> madness is cited as the grounds for doubt in each case? Can rational
> doubt and madness co-exist in practical scepticism? In practice,
> doesn't the possibility of one's being mad rule out reasonable doubt as
> a methodology?
> Perhaps the freshmen are thinking in terms of methodological application, where
> philosophers are thinking in terms of methodological abstraction.
> I'm not sure if I've addressed your point here.
> Any other thoughts?

I think you've put it well, as far as I can tell. I suppose, following
your distinction between 'verbal' and 'practical doubt,' that, on a
Wittgensteinian reading, Descartes' project must either remain on the
level of merely verbal doubt, or else become a 'practical doubt' which
would be indistinguishable from a practice of madness. (The latter would
be for W. akin to a language-game without any binding rules, which would
be unintelligible, ergo mad).

Well, after wading through the deluge of stuff on Chiapas which has
filled my box the last few days, I'm short on the time and patience
required to post a more illuminating response to your response to my
response. For now, I'd like to just encourage you to elaborate on this
theme more if so inclined, as it seems to be the only non-Chiapas-related
thread going on this list. I guess I'm interested mostly in the implied
similarity (or identity, or affinity) in the use of the notion of
'madness' in Foucault & Wittgenstein (and Descartes, too): in
particular, the Foucauldian notion of 'madness' as a determinate
*identity* and/or ontological category (really, 'ontic' category) which
can become an object of study, therapy, etc., as opposed to a more
general idea of 'madness' as the inability to make sense. I'd say the
former is working for F. and D., But not so clearly for W. Any thoughts?


David Hodges

Dept. of Philosophy
Univ. of Illinois


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