Foucault's Externalized Interiors: The Concept of the Limit in The History of Madness
Michel Foucault's History of Madness is extensive but far from complete in its analysis of madness. In fact, it has become one of the most problematic texts in Foucault's bibliography. In the 1970s, Foucault attempted permanently to delete the original 1961 edition's contextual basis, removing the original preface from the French edition and nearly 300 pages from the English before republishing it as Madness and Civilization . The History of Madness becomes significant precisely because its author wanted his readers and critics to forget it-- or significant parts of it. Through his edits, Foucault places important parts of his theoretical past under erasure, but fails to fully excise his thematic concerns from the text. 1961 becomes doubly important: it is as Foucault's mentor, Georges Canguilhem, asserts, "the year that a truly great philosopher" emerged in France, but it also marks the point from which Foucault's later philosophy departed. It must be read as the inception of Foucault's analysis of power even though-perhaps because -it contradicts later divergent works. It is precisely the concept of deviation that concerns Foucault as he analyzes madness and reason. He asserts the division ( partage ) of reason from madness occurs as a distinct originary moment and also as a perpetual gesture. Partage generates a site for human inclusion through the exclusion of the inhuman exclusion and vice versa. It is a gesture that produces--and deconstructs-- limits. For Foucault, analysis of partage requires exploring the limits themselves.
Warchol, Caitlin, " Foucault's Externalized Interiors: The Concept of the Limit in The History of Madness " (2009). URC Student Scholarship.
The Paul K. and Evalyn E. Cook Richter Trusts - Summer Fellowship