Psychosis and Intelligibility

Abstract

When interacting with other people, we assume that they have their reasons for what they do and believe, and experience recognizable feelings and emotions. When people act from weakness of will or are otherwise irrational, what they do can still be comprehensible to us, since we know what it is like to fall for temptation and act against one’s better judgment. Still, when someone’s experiences, feelings and way of thinking is vastly different from our own, understanding them becomes increasingly difficult. Delusions and psychosis are often seen as marking the end of intelligibility. In this paper, I argue first for the importance of seeing other people as intelligible as long as this is at all possible. Second, I argue, based on both previous literature and my own lived experience, that more psychotic phenomena than previously thought can be rendered at least somewhat intelligible. Besides bizarre experiences like illusions, hallucinations and intense feelings of significance, I also explain what it is like to lose one’s bedrock, and how this loss impacts which beliefs one has reason to reject. Finally, I give an inside account of some disturbances of reason, and show that there are important similarities between certain psychotic reasoning problems and common non-pathological phenomena.

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References found in this work

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
What is It Like to Be a Bat?Thomas Nagel - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50.
Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.
Creating the Kingdom of Ends.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1996 - Cambridge University Press.

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Citations of this work

Certainty and Delusion.Rick Bellaar - forthcoming - Philosophical Psychology:1-25.
Overcoming Hermeneutical Injustice in Mental Health: A Role for Critical Phenomenology.Rosa Ritunnano - 2022 - Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 53 (3):243-260.

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