A Philosophy of Madness: The Experience of Psychotic Thinking

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2022.09.07 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews

Wouter Kusters, A Philosophy of Madness: The Experience of Psychotic Thinking, Nancy Forest-Flier (trans.), MIT Press, 2020, 738pp., $39.95, ISBN 9780262044288.

Reviewed by Justin Garson, Hunter College/The Graduate Center, City University of New York

This is a dangerous book.

A meditation on water metaphors in Husserl’s Phenomenology of Internal Time-Consciousness culminates in an involuntary hospitalization. A careful exposition of the schizophrenic “word salad” transforms, almost imperceptibly, into word salad. Philosophical musings alternate with fragments of a mad diary at such a dizzying rate that there are lengthy passages where the reader simply does not know whether she is reading a philosophical exposition or a mad diary.

But the fact that this is possible, that is, the fact that a text could be indeterminate in this manner (madness or philosophy?), points to a profound problem, one that the entire book is designed to confront. What, exactly, is the relationship between madness and philosophy? What…

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