“All beginnings are involuntary.”
— Fernando Pessoa, O Conde D. Henrique
I plan to write here about philosophy, politics and psychiatry — especially their intersections.
You may have come across my previous blog, Grundlegung, which I used when I was a graduate student in philosophy working on autonomy and normativity. Currently, I’m part of the Essex Autonomy Project, an interdisciplinary project on self-determination, which has increasingly focused on mental capacity and mental health law. Whilst my doctoral research was pitched at a relatively abstract or even metaetheoretical level, much of my EAP work has been intensely practical: sifting through law reports, social history, policy documents, talking to social workers and psychiatrists, and so on. One of the effects of this has been to catalyse my interest in mental disorder, particularly its social etiology and relation to the emotional and evaluative structures engendered by capitalism. I’m also beginning to learn how to weaponize philosophy more effectively — figuring out how to write about social and political topics with philosophical tools, yet avoiding the intellectual wasteland that most often passes for ‘applied philosophy’. A new blog seems like the best place to do more of this.
These are febrile times, in every sense, yet it’s ever-harder to cognise them. The most vital and effective writing from the radical left at the moment is that which is anatomising the political, economic and psychological architecture of society — in the fashion of Eva Illouz, Nina Power or Mark Fisher. At any rate, it is this kind of work that I cannot stop reading. What I hope to do on the blog is to find a way to start writing it.