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Obsessive-Compulsive Ir/rationality in Watt

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image of Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd'hui

This article argues that the novel Watt (1953) enacts a veritable thought experiment, which posits endless obsessions and compulsions as an inevitable component of rigorous adherence to the Cartesian Method. This has ironic implications as Watt depicts how adherence to the supposedly rational principles of the Method necessitates the presence of obsessions and compulsions, which, from a contemporary biomedical perspective, point towards an irrational disorder of the self: obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Subsequently, Beckett challenges our ability to neatly define ‘rational’ philosophical methodology when it is so closely aligned with the components of ‘irrational’ disorder.

Affiliations: 1: Doctoral Candidate, Department of English, University of Bristol, United Kingdom


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