My research investigates a fundamental presupposition in psychiatric theory and practice: that the symptoms of mental disorders reflect an underlying dysfunction. That is, mental disorder arises from the failure or impairment of one or more mental mechanisms, and is therefore primarily a problem internal to the disordered individual.
As natural as this assumption may seem, it has been challenged by a number of thinkers across diverse fields, particularly in the post-war period. My thesis picks up this question from a Kantian perspective. Kant’s work—not least his famous Critique of Pure Reason—constitutes a penetrating analysis of human consciousness. Drawing upon his insights, I ask whether the open-ended architecture of cognition may itself, without supposing a breakdown of function, provide the grounds for mental disorder. On this view, our apparently unparalleled capacity to solve novel problems and adapt to diverse environments implies a highly unconstrained model of mental function for which vulnerability to disordered patterns of thought may be the inevitable price.
If there is indeed an inherent instability in the constitution of consciousness, then it becomes more important than ever to consider factors external to the individual, not only in terms of treatment but in shaping our very concepts of mental disorder. Finally, I consider the moral and ethical implications of so conceiving psychiatric conditions.
- 'Metaphysics and Madness: Consciousness and Unreason in the Pre-critical Kant', Philosophy and Madness: From Kant to Hegel and Beyond, Roma Tre University, Rome, 31st May 2019
- 'The Throne and the Scaffold: Kant on the Ambiguity of Enthusiasm', Confronting Fanaticism: Theoretical and Applied Perspectives, University of Vienna, 21st November 2019
Key Research Interests and Expertise
My primary research interests are in the fields of philosophy of psychiatry, philosophy of mind, epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics. I am particularly interested in the work of Immanuel Kant and other early-modern philosophers such as Descartes, Locke, Hume, and Leibniz.
I have previously studied fine art, history of art, and cultural studies, and maintain interests in these areas, especially in 20th century artistic practice.
Master of Research, University of East Anglia
2016 → 2017
Master of Arts, University of London
1999 → 2001
Bachelor of Arts, University of London
1994 → 1997