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Hypochondria and Its Discontents, or, the Geriatric Sublime

Hypochondria and Its Discontents, or, the Geriatric Sublime
91 Charles Street West, Victoria Chapel
Time: Mar 31st, 4:00 pm End: Mar 31st, 6:00 pm
Interest Categories: Philosophy (UTSC), Philosophy (UTM), Philosophy (FAS), Humanities, Comparative Literature (FAS)
Talk by Rebecca Comay, University of Toronto

The Centre for Comparative Literature presents

Hypochondria and Its Discontents, or, the Geriatric Sublime

In the third Conflict of the Faculties, virtually the last text published within his own lifetime, Kant runs through a ridiculous catalogue of (his own) hypochondriac afflictions and offers a panoply of philosophical prescriptions for alleviating these -- the "power of the mind to master its sickly feelings by sheer resolution." Some readers seize on this scenario as an unwitting parody of Kant's own transcendental project: the comedy seems to stage an empirical dress rehearsal of the systematic opposition between the empirical and the transcendental and suggests the structural contamination of the very ideal of purity by the pathology it wants to master. A well-trodden dialectical approach, from Hegel and Nietzsche through Freud and Adorno, discerns in this tizzy of stage-management the perfect case history of the dialectic of enlightenment, ascetic ideology, or the return of the repressed. The very success of the will would be the measure of its failure, the obsession with pathology the ultimate pathology - the return of mythic nature in the most strenuous efforts to control it. This dialectical approach is compelling, I guess, but it underplays both the perversity of the scenario and its strange theatricality. It also overlooks the startling practical implications - at once biopolitical, ideological, economic, institutional, and aesthetic -- of Kant's peculiar experiment. A strange note on which to end a treatise dedicated to the pedagogical imperatives of the Prussian state.

This event is free and open to all. Registration is not required. For further information, please contact Ricky Varghese or Fan Wu at (647) 282-5619


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