This isn't going to be too much of a post but I don't want to get out of the habit, so here goes. I'm doing frantic research to put together a paper for a conference and I want to write about madness in ancient society. I've found one good source, which should lead to others and then thirty minutes on JStor should furnish a few appropriate articles but I cannot decide what the focus of the paper should be.
I have decided to concentrate on Hellenistic philosophers (Cynics/Stoics) because they have the more easily accessible views on madness. They divide it into several kinds. There's melancholia, where a person is mad in emotions but still able to reason; mania, where a person is mad in emotions and cannot reason; bestial insanity, where the capability to reason and feel appropriate emotions (the Hellenistics are fixated on appropriate emotion) is entirely lost on account of continual emotional stress; temporary madness, which is the result of wine or drugs and temporary madness that is the result of strong emotions such as love or anger. For all that their main tenet of virtue is to have, indeed, to chose the correct emotions and desires, they make no moral matter of madness. A person overcome by melancholia is not giving in to a vice but suffering from the bodily ill of too much black bile. (black=melan, choler=bile)
Those suffering from bestial madness are seen as being outside the bounds of vice, that is, their actions are so far removed from reasonable and are so violent that they constitute something more like an illness than a vice because they cannot be said to choose their behavior or emotions. They cannot reason and thus they cannot be said to be vicious because they are unable to choose virtue. This is why it is called bestial, by the way; because they can no more reason than a beast can.
I cannot, though, decide what it is that the paper should be about. Should it be the links between Hellenistic theoretical models of madness and modern theoretical models of madness? Should I contrast them with some other philosophical school? If so, who? Should I drag Hellenistic medicine into it?
I do really hope that someone out there is actually reading these posts. No one comments, even if I ask. Despite that, I'm going to ask again: any ideas? Anything from the brief explication pique your interest? Please suggest me a thesis statement!