2018-02Thematic Section
Silence of an Author and Silence of a Madman


The purpose of this paper is to analyze silence as a specific experience that is formed on the border between that what is psychotic and that what is creative. Trying to deepen the reflection on the area of silence in our experience I will recall two conceptions: Merleau-Ponty’s and Lacan’s. Both of these authors attempted to go beyond the dichotomy of the subjective and the objective perspective in pursuit of a new definition of the subject. Both of them analyzed cases of mental illness and creativity. Merleau-Ponty focused on the bodily aspects of experience, whereas Lacan focused upon the lingual. However, though the phenomenological and the psychoanalytic approach are not entirely reconcilable, in many points they may turn out to be complementary, especially when brought into particular contexts with Martin Heidegger, a figure each considered their main inspiration.


silence, madness, literature, psychotic experience, tacit cogito, Merleau-Ponty, Lacan

How to cite:

Nowak, Borys. “Silence of an Author and Silence of a Madman.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 2, no. 2(4) (2018): 38–52. https://doi.org/10.26319/4715.


Borys Nowak
Independent scholar


Beckett, Samuel and Alan Schneider. No Author Better Served: the Correspondence of Samuel Beckett and Alan Schneider, edited by Maurice Harmon. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999.

Beckett, Samuel. Texts for Nothing. Translated by Samuel Beckett, London: Calder&Boyars, 1974.

Bracken, Patrick. “The Importance of Heidegger for Psychiatry”. Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology, vol. 6, no. 2 (1999): 83–85.

Foucault, Michel. “Who Is an author?” In Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews, 113–138. Translated by Donald F. Bouchard. New York: Cornell University Press, 1977.

Foucault, Michel. History of Madness. Translated by Jean Khalfa and Jonathan Murphy. London, New York: Routledge, 2006.

Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. Translated by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson. Oxford, Cambridge: Blackwell, 2001.

Heidegger, Martin. On the Way to Language. Translated by Peter D. Hertz. New York: Harper&Row, 1971.

Heidegger, Martin. Zollikon Seminars, edited by Medard Boss. Translated by Franz Mayr and Richard Askay. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 2001.

Kuhn, Roland. Maskendeutungen im Rorschachschen Versuch. Basel, New York: S. Karger, 1954.

Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar, Book III, The Psychoses 1955–1956, edited by Jacques-Alain Miller. Translated by Russell Grigg. New York: W.W. Norton, 1993.

Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar, Book XI, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, edited by Jacques-Alain Miller. Translated by Alan Sheridan. New York, London: W.W. Norton, 1998.

Leff, Julian, Geoff Williams, Mark Huckvale, Maurice Arbuthnot, and Alex P. Leff. “Computer-assisted therapy for medication-resistant auditory hallucinations: proof-of-concept study.” The British Journal of Psychiatry, no. 202 (2013): 428–433.

Leff, Julian, Geoff Williams, Mark Huckvale, Maurice Arbuthnot, and Alex P. Leff. “Avatar therapy for perse- cutory auditory hallucinations: What is it and how does it work?” Psychosis, vol. 6, no. 2 (2014): 166–176.

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. “Cezanne’s Doubt”. In Sense and Non-sense. Translated by Hubert L. Dreyfus and Patricia Allen Dreyfus. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1964.

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. “The Indirect Language”. In The Prose of the World, edited by Claude Lefort. Translated by John O’Neil. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1973.

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. Phenomenology of perception. Translated by Colin Smith. London, New York: Routledge, 2005.

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. The Visible and the Invisible, edited by Claude Lefort. Translated by Alphonso Lingis. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1968.

Sass, Louis and Elizabeth Pienkos. Faces of Intersubjectivity. A Phenomenological Study of Interpersonal Experience in Melancholia, Mania, and Schizophrenia.” Journal of Phenomenological Psychology, vol. 46 (2015): 1–32.

Schreber Daniel Paul. Memoirs of My Nervous Illness. Translated by Ida Macalpine and Richard A. Hunter. New York: New York Review Books, 2000.

Sechehaye, Marguerite. Autobiography of a Schizophrenic Girl. New York: Signet, 1970.

Svenaeus, Fredrik. The Hermeneutics of Medicine and the Phenomenology of Health: Steps Towards a Philosophy of Medical Practice. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000.

Žižek, Slavoj. “From Che vuoi ? to Fantasy: Lacan with Eyes Wide Shut”. In How to Read Lacan, London: Granta Books, 2006.

Open Access Statement:

This is an open access journal which means that all content is freely available without charge to the user or his/her institution. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author, as long as the author and original source are properly cited. This is in accordance with the BOAI definition of open access.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Submitting a text to Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture means that the author agrees with the general conditions of this license. The author does and will maintain copyrights and publishing rights for his/her article without any restrictions.