This essay offers the beginnings of a taxonomy of madness through the analysis of three different approaches: the phenomenological, the historical-structural and the existential-religious. While there have been many avenues by which the Continental tradition has sought to counter the understanding that madness is inaccessible and unintelligible, these methods are often restricted to viewing madness from one particular angle. By using this tri-perspectival approach, I argue that insight into madness exposes the diverse forms of the nonrational, which I define as the prerational, the irrational, and the suprarational. Each of the forms reveals the reliance on the nonrational in several areas of the human condition, including displays of mental disorders, dynamic structures of society, and experiences of extreme faith. Through these descriptions, we see how expressions of madness immediately bring to the surface the way the nonrational plays an integral role in the common human condition.

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