2nd Edition

Wittgenstein’s Folly: Philosophy, Psychoanalysis and Language Games

By Françoise Davoine Copyright 2024
    246 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    246 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Wittgenstein’s Folly: Philosophy, Psychoanalysis and Language Games presents a dialogue between the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, the author Françoise Davoine and Davoine’s patients with extreme lived experience.

    This book begins with Davoine’s seminar at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, which is attended by Wittgenstein. He then accompanies Davoine on visits to colleagues at the Austen Riggs Center in Massachusetts, in California, on a Sioux reservation in South Dakota and at Freud’s house in Vienna. The dialogic form of the book allows a performance centered on the psychotherapy of madness and trauma, in which Wittgenstein takes the floor. Davoine introduces us to a contemporary Feast of Fools and creates new language games with madness, enlarging the scope of psychoanalytic approaches to authors like Wittgenstein. The chapters of this book closely resemble short plays in which a conversation with living human beings or with characters from philosophy, literature, science and the arts encounter one another and begin to open new ways of speaking that can render the "mad" more familiar and more manageable.

    Wittgenstein’s Folly: Philosophy, Psychoanalysis and Language Games will be of great interest to psychoanalysts and to academics and students engaged in psychoanalytic studies, philosophy and trauma-related studies.

    Preface to the Second French Edition

    Chapter 1 Who Is He?

    Chapter 2 The Uncanny

    Chapter 3 Language on Holiday

    Chapter 4 Transference

    Chapter 5 Do You Believe in Psychoanalysis?

    Chapter 6 An Ostensive Definition

    Chapter 7 Host and Visitor

    Chapter 8 When the Tool with the Name "N" is Broken

    Chapter 9 Folee-ah-deeoo

    Chapter 10 Excalibur

    Chapter 11 Give Away

    Chapter 12 Witchcraft

    Chapter 13 The Cosmos Becomes Uncertain

    Chapter 14 The Fly-Bottle

    Chapter 15 The Girl

    Chapter 16 The "Far Away" Look

    Chapter 17 19 Berggasse

    Chapter 18 Ready-Mades

    Chapter 19 The Philosopher Comes Back

    Chapter 20 Beetles

    Chapter 21 The Deaf-Mutes

    Chapter 22 The Private Life of Dogs

    Chapter 23 The Machine

    Chapter 24 The Window

    Chapter 25 The Puppets

    Chapter 26 The Dame Jeanne

    Chapter 27 The Little Boy




    Françoise Davoine is a psychoanalyst based in France. She is a former professor at the Centre for the Study of Social Movements, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris, where she and Jean-Max Gaudillière conducted a weekly seminar on Madness and the Social Link for 40 years. She presents internationally and is the author of many books and articles.

    "’Trauma speaks to trauma’. This powerful statement guides the reader through Francoise Davoine's brilliant and evocative book. In Wittgenstein's Folly, she takes the philosopher as her imaginary companion on a psychoanalytic and philosophical journey to examine and reveal the broken links that stand for the various forms of private and social madness throughout history in society. A book not to be missed." - Jeanne Wolff Bernstein, PhD, Member and Board Member, Wiener Arbeitskreis für Psychoanalyse, Chair, Advisory Board of the Sigmund Freud Museum, Vienna, Austria

    "Françoise Davoine is a central figure in the psychoanalytic understanding and treatment of trauma, madness and the aftershocks – personal, social and historical – of historical catastrophes. Central to her work is the unspeakable, the site of trauma and of madness, la folie. Les folles, the mad aka the Fool, are those who attempt to remind us of the unspeakable, by translating it into show. This "forgotten" unspeakable speech is, for Davoine, at the heart of psychosis/madness - the unspeakable, simultaneously maddening, of which it would be mad to speak. For Davoine the central, but often suppressed, task of psychoanalytic work, for which she enlists the help of philosophers, writers and medicine men, is the returning of this madness to speech, to a proper place in the social and political order." - Dr Roger Bacon, MA, PhD (Cantab); independent psychoanalyst, Edinburgh, UK

    "With its profound sense of reflexive inquiry into the conditions of and for shared knowledge concerning symptoms of psychic distress, Wittgenstein’s Folly deepens our understanding of Davoine’s important contributions to research addressing the impact of trauma in social relations. Her highly original approach to rethinking the therapeutic explores the limits of such knowledge in creative dialogue with Wittgenstein, presenting a vital example of what such research can be rather than what, institutionally, it is supposed to be." - Mischa Twitchin, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK

    "This book makes a unique bridge between madness, trauma, psychoanalysis and philosophy, showing the central role of the language, its use and its loss. Moreover, the enigmatic role of transference in psychosis is described in an understandable way, a walk along with Wittgenstein, his thoughts and his personal history. Françoise Davoine is known worldwide for her original, in-depth books and lectures on madness and trauma." - Dag Söderström, psychiatrist and IPA psychoanalyst, vice-chair of ISPS