MAX SCHELER’S DIONYSIAN REDUCTION AS THE DEPRESSIVE’S MODUS VIVENDI
Keywords:Melancholia, Depression, Max Scheler, Dionysian Reduction
This article aims to illuminate the psychopathology of melancholia (depressive psychosis in Anglo-American parlance) by comparing it to a thought experiment conducted by the phenomenological philosopher Max Scheler (1874-1928), which he called the “Dionysian reduction”. The “Dionysian reduction” envisages a human being devoid of what in German is referred to as Geist – spirit and higher intellectual functions. Such a being would be tantamount to a non-human animal: reliant on instinct and with an overwhelming communal bond; devoid of a sense of objectivity and incapable of appreciating the essence of anything; and whose subjectivity is exquisitely that of the social milieu to which he or she belongs. The melancholic is he or she who has delusions of guilt – believing that they are responsible for anything that befalls their “tribe”; they are further prone to nihilistic delusions, the basis of which is a disappearance of the thingness of entities – e.g. “I have no bowels”; and a sense
of subservience to other people – e.g. “I must submit to your will”.
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