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on 24 January 2002
This is not light reading and it takes some dedication to work through the chapters. The debates are as relevant today as they were when the book was published - just whom do we socially construct as "mad"? For Foucault, it's a question of power, charting the shifting status of madness through the late sixteenth to early nineteenth century. Some passages are easier to negotiate than others, equally this is a translation, adding to the difficulty of style. However, for any student of the history of medicine, it is essential reading. The key essay is the classic 'Birth of the Asylum', centering on Foucault's critique of the new moral treatment of the insane, as practiced at the famous Quaker Retreat Hospital in York, echoing developments in post-Revolutionary France. A stimulating, but challenging read.
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on 29 March 1998
Madness and civilization is a powerful survey on the historical development of what we call madness today. What the term means today is radically different from what it meant during the age of reason. This book takes a more or less chronological approach to the development of madness. What is most important is it shows how the term mad was manipulated throughout history in order for society to redefine itself against "the other." This book makes a good case as to why we still live under the shadow of Freud, as Foucault credits him with defining the relationship of the clinically insane, and the physician. A must read to understand the current definition seperating the sane and the insane.
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on 3 November 2004
I am relatively new to the work of Foucault but (despite the arguments I have read elsewhere regarding whether he was essentially humanist or anti-humanist in orientation) it seems to me that his project here, an early one, was that of humanising the history of madness, or rather, bringing into the humanity of modern discourse the rather inhuman and widely divergent historical discourses on madness. We start at a massive remove from the modern discourses of mental health but trace a discernable path through historically changing social values and (what was later called) epistemes to reach it.
Foucault is very free with his style in this work and the tempo changes to accomodate different historical moods, as if he is in some kind of empathy or zeitgeist with the periods he lights up for us.
I wouldn't say that this is a pleasant read, since it deals with the harsh realities of confinement and the treating of inmates as animals - or less than - in some periods of time, but it feels very much like a necessary read, for anyone wondering how the medical perspective on madnes has become so hypostasised and final. In this respect the work is part of the bigger "archeology" of Foucault's other writings (which I am now undertaking). So, I guess I can conclude about this work, it definitely got me interested in a bigger picture and opened me to the significance that history plays behind the scenes of everyday life. Not light reading, but definitely worthwhile.
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on 13 July 2015
Bad translation: it leaves out 300pages and 800 footnotes. Read the trans 'history of madness' instead, published by routledge.
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on 13 February 2010
This was Foucaults first major work. The historical basis for his assersions has long been refuted. So it is merely a series of philosophical considerations presented by Foucault where he tacitly attempts to redeem the insane. Fine by me. just dont call it history.
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on 25 January 2014
Foucault takes you into an amorphous world somewhere between philosophy and poetry - the text is a hypnotising, thought-provoking read. (That's quite appropriate for the subject!) A brilliant study.
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on 14 May 2016
Fantastic boom, highly recommend. Great condition, great packaging. Cannot fault.
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on 11 December 2015
bought as a set of books very interesting
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on 4 August 2015
Faucault has to be read. This is a brilliant historical study of how we define and deal with 'madness' in society. Both badly and dishonestly.
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on 14 June 2016
Worked perfect
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