Universiteit Leiden

nl en


Making sense of madness: practices of intersubjective understanding in three Athenian tragedies

  • Sarah-Helena Van den Brande
Thursday 31 October 2019
Kamerlingh Onnes Building
Steenschuur 25
2311 ES Leiden

Greek tragedy abounds in characters performing or suffering terrible acts, as well as attempts to make sense of these acts. Building on the paradigm of intersubjective understanding from the fields of cognitive psychology and philosophy of mind, this presentation will examine how the concept of intersubjectivity might help to distinguish between different layers of sense making, in a way that is not centered solely on characters or ‘minds’. Central to this enquiry will be the lexical field of νόσος (affliction, disease or plague) as a sense-making tool for madness or mentally unsound behaviour. Via discussion of passages from Aeschylus’ Persians and Sophocles’ Ajax and Antigone, we will investigate how νόσος frequently fuses the domains of the body, the environment, and the gods, playing into the human propensity to make sense with the body, with the environment and with narrative.

Sarah-Helena Van den Brande is a PhD Fellow of the Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO) and a guest PhD candidate at Leiden University (LUCAS). She currently studies causality and practices of intersubjective sense making in a corpus of ancient Greek tragedies that deal with νόσος or ‘sickness’. Her main research interests are Greek drama, narrative theory and philosophy of mind.

This website uses cookies.  More information.