Re: ART: Creativity

Damien Broderick (
Sat, 01 Mar 1997 14:40:17 +1000

At 03:06 AM 3/1/97 +0100, Joost de Lyser wrote:

>'Foucaults histories of madness set out to demonstrate that madness was a
>social desease, whose nature changed in different periods, but which always
>reflected the need for society to find outsiders to punish and imprison, in
>order that the prison of the social order should seem like freedom.'

In response: quote and footnote:

(For Foucault to be in error is not unprecedented. Indeed, many historians
find empirically unsound such sensational Foucauldian claims as the genesis
of the madhouse in the emptied leprosarium, and the sequestration of the mad
on a literal Ship of Fools plying the Rhine.)16

16. A convenient summary of such errors, documented by Luc Ferry and Alain
Renaut, Andrew Scull, Erik Midelfort, Leon Radzinowicz, Michael Ignatieff,
Douglas Hay, and David Garland, is sketched in Keith Windschuttle, The
Killing of History (1994), pp. 145-54. Instances of these empirical
mistakes include consequential errors in dating of a century or more. Major
incarceration of the insane did not occur between 1650-1789 but 1815-1914,
making it `a product not of the era of the Enlightenment philosophes but
rather of the democratic era' (pp. 145-6). Foucault makes similar blunders
with regard to the punishment or confinement of criminals (pp. 148-150).
Nor are these discrepancies trivial; their false data are what supports
Foucault's major `archaeological' and `genealogical' claims concerning the
purely social construction of subjectivity, and its abrupt discontinuities
across time.

THEORY AND ITS DISCONTENTS, forthcoming 1997, by

Damien Broderick