Article: Madness and Spiritualist Philosophy of Mind by Samuele Lézé

A new paper published in the British Journal for the History of Philosophy might be of interest for H-Madness users.

The exchange between the philosopher Pierre Maine de Biran and the psychiatrist Antoine-Athanase Royer-Collard has been read either as an exemplary case of the influence of philosophy on medicine or as a “dialogue of the deaf” (Braunstein, Broussais et le matérialisme, 47). However, these two readings imply a clear distribution of roles between the philosopher and the doctor. This article instead examines the metaphysical nature of the discussion between the two spiritualists in their aim to establish a ‘true spiritualism’ from a common problem: the nature of madness. Based on a constellation analysis of Biran’s Nouvelles considérations sur les rapports du Physique et du Moraland Royer-Collard’s 1821 lecture on this manuscript, the article shows that both thinkers are concerned with the most appropriate form of dualism, and how it is possible to establish a relationship between the two fundamental aspects of man – the physical and moral – without denaturing each of them. Paradoxically, the analysis makes manifest a reversal of roles: whereas Biran has a static conception of dualism leading to an organic conception of madness, Royer-Collard demands a dynamic dualism that makes it possible to conceive a causal role for the mind in madness.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s