Touched by genius: on animals and madmen
until further notice
Number of pages
SourceSouth African Journal of Philosophy, 28, 4, (2009), pp. 433-446
Article / Letter to editor
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South African Journal of Philosophy
The paper starts with the question, posed by Wittgenstein, whether animals can feign or act as if they are performing in a theatre. It is argued that the idea that they cannot is widespread, not only in philosophy but also in biology or poetry. Animals are generally considered to be too honest for that. A second question is whether there are people who are too honest for feigning or acting. Foucault’s famous discussion about madmen sheds some light on this question. Two concepts play an important role in his discussion: ‘innocence’ and ‘genius’. These concepts are not only discussed in relationship to Foucault but also in relationship to Lorenz and Nietzsche. It will be argued that both concepts play an important role in combating an overly rationalist or logocentric ethics. According to the thinkers discussed in this article, an ethics which denies the animality in man is nothing else but dangerous.
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