Saturday, March 24, 2007

Folie et déraison

For the first time ever English readers will be able to read the complete text of Foucault's Folie et déraison, and potentially discover that the glaring problems in the text are even worse in the complete edition. (I've read the complete French text) Andrew Scull explains those problems in some detail in this review, for those of you who won't be reading the unexpurgated English edition of Madness and Civilization. Most of this I've heard a number of times; it's seemingly customary for people who write histories of madness to explain why Foucault was wrong in their introduction. But, it's interesting stuff nonetheless. The most interesting thing to me is actually the comments section, in which a couple of fans (Foucaultheads?) accuse Mr. Scull of pedantically nitpicking. This in spite of the fact that he actually demolishes the central thesis of Foucault's study in his article. You have to wonder what wouldn't be seen as nitpicking in this case.

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