Derrida had a discussion on the status of Descarte’s cogito with respect to the status of madness in philosophic discourse. My aim in this paper[1] is to. Derrida leaves no doubt that, “/a/s soon as Descartes has reached this extremity, .. [4] Jacques Derrida, “Cogito and the history of madness”, in Writing and. Download Citation on ResearchGate | On Jan 1, , Jacques Derrida and others published Cogito and the History of Madness }.

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Already have an account? Foucault wants to anr the history of madness without the structure of language that seeks to define madness in terms of reason the ultimate separation of words from things that we have been discussing since Bacon.

Slavoj Zizek – Cogito, Madness and Religion: Derrida, Foucault and then Lacan

In other words, Foucault believes that the use of language is the very heart of reason and so we cannot talk about madness without using a form of reason. Derrida counters by claiming that creating an archaeology of silence imposes an order upon silence and brings madness under the umbrella of reason.


Foucault argues that Descartes dismisses madness from the Cogito when Descartes writes that it would be madness to think that he was made of glass or that he was not sitting by the fire.

Derrida counters Foucault by arguing that the segment in which madness is dismissed is in a different voice than that of Descartes. Derrida writes that the dream segment is the maddest form of madness, because everything is misperceived Because even a madman perceives something, however incorrectly, and can still think, Derrida counters that the Cogito does not exclude madness.

Foucault’s Madman and His Reply to Derrida

Though Derrida continuously argues that one cannot dismiss madness from the Cogito and from reason, he agrees with Foucault that reason and language are necessary for the communication of the Cogito.

Descartes also interns madness through the reassurance of the existence of God and through memory of the act of the Cogito. The cogito is a work, and because it is a work it reassures itself against madness. Before it becomes a work, however, it is madness. To historicize the hyperbole as the break between madness and reason is to miss the point. Speech must constantly intern madness and new speech must create new madness; the tension between reason and madness is the crisis inherent in the nature of philosophy itself you might consider Locke ‘s assertion that there is some degree of madness in most men.


The argument is distinctly Hegelian in that the contradictory natures of reason and unreason allow us the create philosophy. To turn text into a link, highlight the text, then click on a page or file from teh list above.

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