Madness and teleology

When John Nash declared himself to be Emperor of Antarctica, by what license do we call him sick?  Mental illness is often attributed to illness of the brain, but this is problematic.  When the liver or the heart is diseased, we have a strong account of its function and the importance of that role in preserving the integrity of the organism.  Either organ may be considered sick if its ability to contribute to the health of the whole is impaired.  Our description of the role of the organ within the economy of the body is unashamedly teleological: the heart is there “to” pump blood and maintain circulation.  Now, I ask again, by what license do we interpret a bizarre belief as evidence of sickness?  To do so, we would need a teleological account of the role of the brain within the economy of the organism.  We have none such.
One goal of the development of the P-world notion is to arrive at something of this nature: a task description for the brain, if you will.  This is essentially a biological account, but biological in the sense of Ingold or Maturana, where the integrity of the organism  as a unity is emphasized.  The brain, here, is no kind of controller.  It mediates between receptors and actuators, and in doing so, it brings the phenomenal world into being.  But that latter trick is crucially dependent on other persons.  The P-world is largely socially constructed: our worlds of experience are by no means attributable only to the biology of the individual organism.  Language plays a huge role here, in helping us to interpret, categorize, and interact in a culturally determined manner with the world we encounter.
It is here that the teleological role of the brain is to be delineated, and Nash’s declaration might then, perhaps, be seen as pathological.  In doing so, we acknowledge fully the social nature of madness, and recognize the glaring truth that we have called it mad because we  disagree with the proposition and are unwilling to tolerate behavior informed by it.

When John Nash declared himself to be Emperor of Antarctica, by what license do we call him sick?  Mental illness is often attributed to illness of the brain, but this is problematic.  When the liver or the heart is diseased, we have a strong account of its function and the importance of that role in preserving the integrity of the organism.  Either organ may be considered sick if its ability to contribute to the health of the whole is impaired.  Our description of the role of the organ within the economy of the body is unashamedly teleological: the heart is there “to” pump blood and maintain circulation.  Now, I ask again, by what license do we interpret a bizarre belief as evidence of sickness?  To do so, we would need a teleological account of the role of the brain within the economy of the organism.  We have none such.
One goal of the development of the P-world notion is to arrive at something of this nature: a task description for the brain, if you will.  This is essentially a biological account, but biological in the sense of Ingold or Maturana, where the integrity of the organism  as a unity is emphasized.  The brain, here, is no kind of controller.  It mediates between receptors and actuators, and in doing so, it brings the phenomenal world into being.  But that latter trick is crucially dependent on other persons.  The P-world is largely socially constructed: our worlds of experience are by no means attributable only to the biology of the individual organism.  Language plays a huge role here, in helping us to interpret, categorize, and interact in a culturally determined manner with the world we encounter.
It is here that the teleological role of the brain is to be delineated, and Nash’s declaration might then, perhaps, be seen as pathological.  In doing so, we acknowledge fully the social nature of madness, and recognize the glaring truth that we have called it mad because we  disagree with the proposition and are unwilling to tolerate behavior informed by it.