Wittgenstein’s Folly is a translation of Françoise Davoine’s La Folie Wittgenstein.
“Folly” has many meanings, referring to the “madness” of the fool, as well as to the madness of what we call the “mentally ill.” “Folly” is linked with the fools of medieval plays, with the fools of Renaissance satires, and with the folly that speaks as a woman in Erasmus’s Praise of Folly. In this book by Francoise Davoine, “folly” often refers to the madness of those isolated by historical catastrophes that have not been processed across generations, and which can only be studied by exploring the fields of madness, by finding ways to hear Folly herself speaking. The title does not refer specifically to the madness or folly of Wittgenstein himself. Wittgenstein’s Folly is about psychoanalytic experience, and specifically about the madness or folly that comes to reside, in a way, in what Françoise Davoine refers to as a “psychotic transference.”
Françoise Davoine is a psychoanalyst trained in the 1970s at Lacan’s École freudienne de Paris. With advanced degrees in the Classics and in French Literature, she obtained a doctorate in sociology at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences), at the Centre d’étude des mouvements sociaux (Center for the Study of Social Movements), led by Alain Touraine. She and her husband, Jean-Max Gaudilliere, have led a weekly seminar (Madness and the Social Link) at that Center for over thirty years.
Françoise Davoine is convinced that psychosis is a field of research for both analyst and analysand, in which the events of History, or perhaps pieces of those events, which could not be processed by the individual or even by human beings as a group, can be identified, recognized, and finally put in a place where they can be fully experienced within a symbolic framework created by social links; i.e., with others, within a social world.