Humboldt Universität zu Berlin/Università degli studi di Palermo.
Abstract: This paper aims at foregrounding the Kantian conception of mental illness as a “disorder and deviation from the rule of the use of reason” (AA 07:216) and thus to examine this peculiar meaning of mental illness as a pathology of consciousness, where the latter is understood as the central structure of subjectivity guiding its theoretical, practical, and aesthetic actions. The starting point of this analysis is Kant’s systematic presentation of mental illnesses in his Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View (1798), which I will explore alongside his Lectures on Anthropology. Specific attention will be paid to the common symptom Kant identifies in every form of mental illness, the “loss of common sense (sensus communis)” (AA 07:219). According to the investigation of the Critique of Judgment, this entails the lack of the “necessary condition of the universal communicability of our knowledge” (AA 05:239) and thus a distancing from the sphere of public reason which, in turn, undermines consciousness’ abilities of aesthetic reflection and political action. I will explore the specific meaning of illness as a transgression of the private into the public, i.e. the obfuscation of an enlightened, shared, and collectively-instantiated reason. The goal is that of exploring the meaning of illness, as an incapacity to appropriately adopt maxims of the common intellect, and therefore an inability “to think for oneself”, the shrinkage of a “enlarged thought” and the impossibility to “always act consistently” (AA 05:294).
Keywords: Mental Illness; Disorder and Deviation; Pathology of Consciousness; Loss of Common Sense; Public Reason.