Summer Update 2022

I am continuing my tradition of giving a summer update. It helps to see what I have accomplished this past year and what plans I have for the future.

Recently Published

My Book! Madness in Experience and History: Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology and Foucault’s Archaeology. This was published in November 2021!  You can order it now through Routledge and Amazon.

Chapter in Edited Book: “The Need for Merleau-Ponty in Foucault’s Account of the Abnormal.” In Normality, Abnormality, and Pathology in Merleau-Ponty, edited by Talia Welsh and Susan Bredlau, 97-115. New York: SUNY Press, 2022. You can purchase the hardcover on Amazon or at SUNY press. The paperback should come out in late summer 2022.

Upcoming Publications

Chapter in Edited Book: “Foucault’s Care of Self: A Response to Modern Technology.” In Routledge International Handbook for Psychoanalysis, Subjectivity and Technology, edited by David Goodman and Matthew Clemente. Forthcoming with Routledge.

Book Review: “Centrality of Touch: A Review of Richard Kearney’s Touch.” The review will be published along with one or two other reviews and Kearney’s response to them in the journal: Crossing: The International Network of Philosophy and Religion. The book, Touch, is an excellent introduction to approaching the world in a phenomenological way. I recommend it!

Currently Working On

Conference Presentation: “The Secret of Madness: Foucault’s Overarching Nonrational” for the International Network of Philosophy and Religion being held this June 2022 in Paris, France.

Conference Presentation for the International Merleau-Ponty Circle (and hopefully later an article for the new Journal of Philosophy of Disability). No title yet. Something on disability as a way of accessing the world but also a mode of suffering in the world.

Convocation Presentation: “Madness in Experience and History.” I’ve won a Faculty Excellence Award and will be presenting on my book on November 4, 2022 at the University of Mary.

Future Work

Joint Book Project with Dr. Mark Allen. Tentative title: Art and the Flourishing of the Ordinary. Related to Mark’s dissertation on art and philosophy and my master’s thesis on existential aesthetics.

Article: No title yet. Something on Foucault’s unreason (déraison) and Victor Hugo’s display of madness in Les Miserables

Joint Article with Dr. Mary Schwarz. Tentative title: “Reclaiming our Lost Identity with Marcel: A Response to Suicide and Other Acts of Self-Harm.” Planning on submitting this to the journal Marcel Studies.

New Class This Fall: Aesthetics/Philosophy of Art and Beauty

I will be teaching a new class this fall (Fall 2022)! The title is Aesthetics/Philosophy of Art and Beauty.

What is art? What is beauty? Is art just a side hobby? Is it something only for the elite? Are there any limits for what can be considered art? Or is art just anything we want it to be? What does art tell us about beauty? Does art have to be beautiful?

Come study the importance of art and beauty through a philosophical and artistic perspective!  In this class, we will cover the essential writings on aesthetics in philosophy while also taking time to actually experience different art forms together, such music, painting, nature art, poetry and more. Throughout it all, we will reflect on how art plays an essential role in our human experience and has a unique way of revealing the good, true and beautiful to us.

Conference Panel Presentation: The Roots of Technological Prosthesis and Hope in Foucault’s Care of Self

I had the opportunity to be part of a panel presentation for the Society for Pscyhoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychology, Division 39. The title for our panel was “Technological Prosthesis: Transcending Finitude and the Trauma of Death” and Matthew Clemente, David Goodman, Eric Severson along with myself were the panelists. We presented virtually on April 10, 2022.

Here were my four main points:

First, as we have seen, cultural and philosophical phenomena loudly proclaim technology as a way of transcending the human experience. Do we hear any murmurs of discomfort about this idea in other films? Examples: Gravity, Ad Astra

Second, this turn to technology as a savior arises out of a reduced understanding of human subjectivity. A fuller understanding of subjectivity can be seen through a Foucault’s historical tracing of the idea of “care of self.”

Third, the roots of the technological prosthesis comes out of a reduction of “care of self” to “knowledge of self” which takes place in modernity. This is what gives rise to a consideration of humans as disembodied acquirers of knowledge, who can be enhanced by technological means.

Fourth, let’s consider now (1) examples of everyday technologies that are mistakenly used in an attempt to transcend human experience and (2) examples of everyday technologies which allow for the possibility of proper self-care.

New Chapter Published: The Need for Merleau-Ponty in Foucault’s Account of the Abnormal

My chapter has been published in an edited collection on Merleau-Ponty. The title of the chapter is “The Need for Merleau-Ponty in Foucault’s Account of the Abnormal” and is in the book, Normality, Abnormality, and Pathology in Merleau-Ponty, edited by Talia Welsh and Susan Bredlau. You can purchase the hardcover on Amazon or at SUNY press. The paperback should come out in late summer 2022.

Here is the abstract:

Due to both his historical contributions as well as the simple persuasive power of his writing, many of us are drawn to the work of Michel Foucault on the history of the abnormal. And yet, while we acknowledge the insights offered by his account of the abnormal, we may feel that something is missing from his historical narrative and wonder if it can be fully trusted. In this chapter, I will argue that we can only successfully draw on Foucault’s work on the abnormal once we recognize that it is Merleau-Ponty’s work in psychology that serves as its hidden foundation.

To do so, I begin by giving a brief summary of Foucault’s account of the abnormal according to his 1961 History of Madness and his 1974-1975 lectures entitled Abnormal. Foucault describes how the abnormal of the modern age comes out of an understanding of madness that can be traced in the previous ages. He then reveals some common historical structures present in each age; in particular, how the notion of madness is dependent on the societal constructions of the rational and the nonrational. But we are left asking: Where are these constructions coming from? And why is madness inextricably linked to our understanding of the rational and nonrational in every age? Foucault’s account of the abnormal seems to tell us how the notions of madness play out in society, but offers no explanation for why the historical structures are shaped in this way. 

I turn to Merleau-Ponty for aid and find that the very historical structures recounted by Foucault are actually rooted in Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological patterns of the abnormal. Drawing on the Phenomenology of Perception, I describe the phenomenological foundation of the abnormal as a way to make madness both accessible and meaningful. We find that this foundation is precisely what is needed for the arbitrary historical constructions of Foucault. To close, I look at the presence of these patterns in the disorder of schizophrenia, demonstrating how the unity of a historical-phenomenological account of the abnormal can provide deeper insights into the experience of a mental disorder.