The Discourse on the 'Art of Government'.


[Work in progress]

Here I want to explore the discourse on the 'art of management', or 'art of government', as it came to be established in the 18th and 19th centuries. The focus will be on Asylum practice: the management of madness in the age of Reason.

From Erasmus' Handbook of the Christian Knight (  ):

"Man, hampered as he is by this perplexing division, may be compared to an unruly state. Such a state is composed of various sorts of men whose dissensions create frequent disturbances and factions. To prevent strife the greatest power must be given to one supreme authority, and this authority must be of such a nature that it commands nothing that is not for the welfare of the state.

In man, reason discharges the office of king. [...] Consider the dregs of the lower classes to be those affections or passions that dissent as much as possible from the decrees of reason and that are least humble. These are lust, lechery, envy, and similiar diseases of the mind, which we ought to resist as overseers restrain dirty, vile slaves so as to ensure that they perform the tasks assigned them by the master, or, at least, so as to prevent them from doing harm. The divinely inspired Plato wrote of all these things in his Timaeus.

Though our king, reason, may at times be oppressed, he cannot be corrupted without protesting. He will be able to recover because of the eternal law that has been divinely engraven upon him. [...] ... the Stoics and the Peripatetics... both agree that we should be guided by reason rather than by passion. ...they contend that the truly wise man must be free of all passions of this sort as diseases of the mind. [...] Socrates, in the Phaedo of Plato, appears to agree with the Stoics when h says that philosophy is nothing more than a meditation upon death, that is, a withdrawal of the mind, as much as possible, from corporal and sensible things, and a dedication to those things that can be perceived only by reason. [...] Socrates' fable of the good and the bad charioteers and the good and bad horses is no old wives tale."

From 'Two Discourses Concerning the Soul of Brutes... The first is Physiological... The other is Pathological...', by Francis Willis (1672):

 "Of Madness.

The Curatory Indication

The first indication, vis. Curatory, requires threatenings, bonds, or strokes, as well as Physick. For the Mad-man being placed in a House for the business, must be so handled both by the Physican, and also by the Servants that are prudent, that he may be in some manner kept in, either by warnings, chidings, or punishments inflicted upon him, to his duty, or his behaviour, or manners. And indeed for the curing of Mad people, there is nothing more effectual or necessary than their reverence or standing in awe of such as they think their Tormentors. For by this means, the Corporeal Soul being in some measure depressed and restrained, is compell'd to remit its pride and fierceness; and so afterwards by degrees grows more mild, and returns in order: Wherefore, Furious Mad-men are sooner, and more certainly cured by punishments, and hard usuage, in a strait room, than by Physick or Medicines."