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Kant, Hegel, Foucault and Unreason in History: the Philosophical Canon of the History of Madness

This article proposes to relate Kant's and Hegel's philosophy of history to the basis of Foucault's History of Madness in the Classical Age. We are not attempting to recognize the presence of a cosmopolitan or universal history, but trying to understand how critical thinking and philosophy as the science of pure essences appear in Foucault's historical intelligibility. The challenge of bringing together a diversity of experiences under the concept of unreason (déraison), which is the common thread of the book, suggests an attachment to tradition. However, the absence of an intrinsic criterion justifying the reference of that multiplicity to madness motivates a negative aspect to that concept and, positively, makes Foucault establish for his work an empirical primacy, in the form of a constellation of images. The procedure of the History of Madness that, with its interest in unreason, inaugurates the privilege given by the French philosopher to the analysis of discontinuities, leads us to recognize reason based on cases that escape its limits and the essences discerned by itself.

Reason; Unreason; Madness; Philosophy; History


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