2018-02Thematic Section
Psychosis as the Failure of Symbolization


After offering a brief outline of Cassirer’s fundamental ideas on symbolization, the article looks at its application to psychopathology, e.g. psychosis, a theme not introduced by Cassirer himself. Psychosis is conceived of as a distortion of a fundamental symbolization, a radical metaphor, thus elaborating a version of Cassirer’s own line of thought. Cassirer’s concept of basis phenomena appears to provide a fruitful conceptual scheme in this regard. At the same time, a case is made for the reappraisal of an anthropological brand of psychopathology. It constitutes a qualification of the currently dominant biological psychiatry, offering a legitimate perspective on psychic disorder, albeit a relative one in both cases – a vision in line with Cassirer’s basic assumptions of symbolization.


Cassirer, basis phenomena, psychosis, symbolization, anthropological psychopathology

How to cite:

Mooij, Antoine. “Psychosis as the Failure of Symbolization.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 2, no. 2(4) (2018): 5–14. https://doi.org/10.26319/4712.


Antoine Mooij (Professor Emerita)
School of Law, University of Utrecht
Janskerkhof 3, 3512 BK Utrecht, The Netherlands


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