Making sense and going insane. A conversation with Anik Waldow (podcast)

This is the seventh installment of my series Philosophical Chats. In this episode, I have a conversation with Anik Waldow who is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney. Starting out from a recent paper by Anik (on Hume calling himself an “uncouth monster”)*, we talk about the boundaries of normality today and in the 18th century.

Topics we cover include:

  • the social nature of rationality and emotions,
  • what it means to be a monster,
  • ascribing categories,
  • being normal,
  • scepticism as a trope in philosophy,
  • belonging,
  • feeling cut off,
  • excluding others,
  • gaslighting …

* Here is the ‘uncouth monster passage’ from Hume’s Treatise:

“I am first affrighted and confounded with that forelorn solitude, in which I am plac’d in my philosophy, and fancy myself some strange uncouth monster, who not being able to mingle and unite in society, has been expell’d all human commerce, and left utterly abandon’d and disconsolate. Fain wou’d I run into the crowd for shelter and warmth; but cannot prevail with myself to mix with such deformity. I call upon others to join me, in order to make a company apart; but no one will hearken to me. Every one keeps at a distance, and dreads that storm, which beats upon me from every side. I have expos’d myself to the enmity of all metaphysicians, logicians, mathematicians, and even theologians; and can I wonder at the insults I must suffer? I have declar’d my disapprobation of their systems; and can I be surpriz’d, if they shou’d express a hatred of mine and of my person? When I look abroad, I foresee on every side, dispute, contradiction, anger, calumny and detraction. When I turn my eye inward, I find nothing but doubt and ignorance. All the world conspires to oppose and contradict me; tho’ such is my weakness, that I feel all my opinions loosen and fall of themselves, when unsupported by the approbation of others. Every step I take is with hesitation, and every new reflection makes me dread an error and absurdity in my reasoning.”

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