Re: Madness & Civilization and medieval Islam

Very thoughtful Richard,
I obviously confused some of M&C with D&P.
Thank you for the clarification; all readers will
profit by your posting.
Wm King.

On Thu, 16 Nov 2000, Richard A. Lynch wrote:

> Folks,
> Having just taught M&C in a class, the text is fresh on my mind, and I have
> two comments on William King's notes:
> 1. Reducing the argument of M&C to a question of capitalism demanding
> institutionalization of madness is a significant misrepresentation of
> Foucault's argument in the work. He is interested in the phenomenon of
> confinement of the mad, but the sources of this confinement have little to
> do with capitalism. The closest Foucault gets to bringing capitalism into
> the argument is in chapter 8, when he discusses the introduction of the
> concept of "population" a notion he will take up again in the College de
> France in 1978 marking a radical shift in the perception of poverty, part
> of a movement that isolates madness from other aspects of "unreason" at the
> end of the 18th Century. This is part of the process that makes madness
> primarily a "medical" or "psychological" phenomenon, but is much after
> madness has already become primarily something tied to confinement.
> 2. It seems that King's example of the medieval Muslim hospitalization of
> the mad is meant as a counterexample, to challenge Foucault's thesis. In
> fact, Foucault was aware of such examples and incorporates them into his
> account. The seeds for the medicalization of madness that was to occur in
> the 19th Century were laid in the classical age, in the juxtaposition of two
> different understandings of madness: one as curable, what will eventually
> become medical, the other as incurable, a social problem, linked more
> directly with confinement. He cites the medieval Islamic practices typified
> by the hospital in Cairo as a possible antecedent for the view of madness as
> curable.
> As many of us remember, M&C is an abridged translation -- only about 1/3 -
> 1/2 of the full text is included. Foucault's discussion of the possible
> medieval Islamic influence on the classical age is in one of the chapters
> that was omitted from M&C. (This chapter, "Experiences of madness," has
> been translated into English, however, and is available in _History of the
> Human Sciences_, vol. 4, no. 1 (February 1991), pp. 1-25.) I quote from p.8
> of the English (p. 133 of the Tel edition, original French):
> "It is by no means impossible that the Orient and Arab thought played a
> determining role here. It appears, indeed, that in the Arab world real
> hospitals reserved for the mad were founded quite early on: perhaps in Fez
> from the seventh century, perhaps also in Baghdad near the end of the
> twelfth century, very certainly in Cairo in the course of the following
> century."
> This last could well be the hospital cited by King.
> Aside from any arguments about M&C, this episode reminds me once again of
> the incredible breadth and depth of Foucault's intellectual inquiries.
> Truly an amazing mind, and an amazing man!
> I hope these thoughts are helpful.
> Richard
> ----------------
> Richard A. Lynch
> Department of Philosophy and Religion
> Wabash College
> P. O. Box 352
> Crawfordsville, IN 47933-0352 USA
> 765-361-6046 (office)
> 765-361-6291 (fax)
> lynchr@xxxxxxxxxx
> -----------------
> on 00.11.14 22:42, foucault-digest at
> owner-foucault-digest@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:
> > Date: Mon, 06 Nov 2000 09:07:02 -1000
> > From: William J King <bill@xxxxxxxxxx>
> > Subject: Foucault on Madness, other information
> >
> > Fellow Foucaulians:
> >
> > It has been a while since I have read "Madness & Civilization"
> > but as I recall the drill went like this: madness was
> > tolerated and was a village issue until the demands of
> > capitalism required a stricter order of communities.
> > Then and only then, did the institutionalization of
> > madness commence.
> >
> > Well, in my studies of Medieval Islam, esp, Howard Turner's
> > _Science in Medieval Islam_ he shows a floor plan of
> > a 13th century hospital in Cairo with rooms for each of
> > insane females and insane males. (p 143)
> >
> > The point being that the demands of capitalism may not have
> > been the deciding factor in institutionalizing the insane.
> >
> > Comments?
> >
> > Other discussions of early institutionalization of the insane
> > in Islamic states can be found in
> > Michael Dols, Majnun: The Madman in Medieval Islamic Society
> > or Manfred Ullmann, Islamic Medicine,
> >
> > Wm King
> > bill@xxxxxxxxxx

Partial thread listing: