Madness as a Construct / Raj Ayyar


So often, esp. in South Asia and elsewhere, madness is seen as a stigma, a permanent condition of an unfortunate few that are not ‘normal’.
‘Madness’ as a construct, rather than a hushed-up essential condition of some humans: Michel Foucault, Thomas Szasz, R.D. Laing and the sociologist Erving Goffman have taught us that ‘madness’ is a function of power relations and discourses (Foucault), that it is a ‘deviant’ dramaturgic performativity (Goffman), that madness is ‘manufactured’ (Szasz), that the ‘mad’ ones are the really sane escapists in a schizoid, fragmented world (RD Laing).
The Cheshire Cat in Alice prefigures all these critiques of ‘madness’ vs. ‘normalcy’.
Raj Ayyar
‘In that direction,’ the Cat said, waving its right paw round, `lives a Hatter: and in that direction,’ waving the other paw, `lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they’re both mad.’

`But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ Alice remarked.
‘Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the Cat: `we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.’

`How do you know I’m mad?’ said Alice.
`You must be,’ said the Cat, `or you wouldn’t have come here.’

Alice didn’t think that proved it at all; however, she went on `And how do you know that you’re mad?’

`To begin with,’ said the Cat, `a dog’s not mad. You grant that?’
`I suppose so,’ said Alice.

`Well, then,’ the Cat went on, `you see, a dog growls when it’s angry, and wags its tail when it’s pleased. Now I growl when I’m pleased, and wag my tail when I’m angry. Therefore I’m mad.’

`I call it purring, not growling,’ said Alice.
`Call it what you like,’ said the Cat.
–Lewis Carroll: Alice in Wonderland

Raj Ayyar

Raj Ayyar

Raj Ayyar Email: Ph.: 9871239613 A Brief Bio • Over 20 years of collegiate teaching experience in the US and India. Taught full time at East Florida State and part time (adjunct faculty) at different colleges in the SF bay area. • Currently a full time Visiting Professor, Humanities and Social Sciences, IIIT-Delhi (since 2014). Courses include: Critical and Creative Thinking, Perspectives on Knowledge, Philosophy of Religion, Theory and Practice of Engineering Ethics, and other philosophy courses. • Created course content and syllabi for Philosophy of Religion and Philosophy of Literature; revamped existing syllabi and course outlines for Theory and Practice of Engineering Ethics, Perspectives on Knowledge, Critical Thinking. Current Areas of Research Interest • The Meta-Ethics of Facebook and Other Social Media. • Virtual Performativity—Toward a Typology of Virtual Speech Acts. Recent Conference Papers and Presentations • ICPR National Conference (Tier 1) on Plato’s Republic. Presenter and Moderator. Presented on ‘Plato and Nietzsche: Predictable Disjunctions and Unexpected Conjunctures’. Panel Discussion Moderator and Synthesizer. Lucknow, March 2017. • ICPR National Conference (Tier 1) Presenter on Perspectives in Philosophy and Literature. Delhi University, April 2016. • ICPR Panel Discussion on Mrinal Miri’s ‘Philosophy and Education’. August 2015. • Presenter and Moderator: Aletheia Conference on Heidegger. Lady Shri Ram College, March 2015. • Presenter and Moderator: International Conference (Tier 1), on Schopenhauer and Indian Philosophy. JNU, February 2015. • Presenter: UGC National Conference on Fact and Value in Higher Education. Jesus and Mary College, January 2015. Co-Curricular Activities at IIIT-D • Founder and Faculty Coordinator, Student Mentoring Program. Handpicked third and fourth year students are coached and trained to mentor first year B.Tech students on academic and personal issues and problems. We are in the process of appointing ad hoc mentors for M.Tech and Ph.D. students who are facing severe problems, and of expanding the program to meet growing student needs. • Founder and Faculty Coordinator: The Lunchbox Philosophers, a ‘Socrates Café’ concept developed at IIIT-D since 2014. Interested students, faculty and administrators meet regularly on a weekly basis, to discuss a philosophical or HSS-related issue. • Faculty Coordinator: DASA student mentoring for international and NRI students. Other Areas of Work Experience • Corporate Behavioral Skills Consultant: Working with IT companies in Bangalore and throughout South India. Areas of expertise include: Cross-Cultural Diversity, Personality Development, Gender Sensitivity Training (including sexual harassment issues), Stress Management and Work-Life Balance, Time Management. • Guest Faculty: St. Joseph’s College and Christ University, Bangalore. 2008-13.

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