University of Pretoria Logo
English |  Afrikaans |    
Philosophy & Ethics of Mental Health

Open Seminar 7 - 11 Feb 2011


Core Concepts in Philosophy & Mental Health

Venue: Auditorium Building, Weskoppies Hospital, Ketjen Road, Pretoria-West

Time: Monday to Friday from 14:00 till 17:00


Monday 7 February
The Concept of Mental Illness; What can philosophy do for mental health & vice versa?
What is philosophy? What is psychiatry? What is mental illness? Prejudice and stigmatization of philosophy and mental health. Empirical and conceptual approaches to questions in mental health. Concepts of disorder. Anti-psychiatry and the debate about mental illness. What can philosophy do? Analytic, synthetic, and interpretative methods. Description and revision. Reasoning and arguments. Similarities and differences.


Tuesday  8 February
The Philosopher’s Toolkit
Kinds of definitions and usage of concepts. Distinction between use and definition of concepts in the debate about mental illness. Necessary, sufficient, and contingent conditions. Deductive and inductive reasoning. What counts as a valid, sound, & cogent argument? Kinds of arguments. Strengths and weaknesses of arguments. Mistaken arguments. 

 Wednesday  9 February
Logic, Linguistics, and Philosophical Research
Conjunction and disjunction. Conditionals. Implication and entailment. Sense and reference. Functions, relations, and concepts. Semantics, syntax and pragmatics.  Applications in mental health. Worthy topics and sensible questions. Differences and similarities in research and writing between ordinary mental health research and philosophy when it comes to making claims, the usage of literature, research processes, structuring of writing, and writing introductions and conclusions. Constraints on content and goals of form in writing.


Thursday  10 February
Philosophical History of Mental Disorder

Classical conceptions: Aristotle and the Stoics; Medieval minds and spirits. Renaissance, reformation and witchcraft. The trade in lunacy. The first biological phase and Karl Jaspers. Twentieth century schisms. Phenomenology. Jaspers' psychopathology; form and content; explanation and understanding; objective and subjective knowledge; subdivisions of psychopathology (perception, belief, thought and self­-awareness)


Friday 11 February

Mental Health Concepts: symptoms & diagnostic classification
 What are delusions, hallucinations, and psychosis? Psychiatric symptomatology. Diagnostic categories and classification systems. Personality and personality disorders. The respective preambles to the Mental Health section of the International Classification of Diseases (10th edition) and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM-IV).


Reserve your place for free at