Reason and Normative Embodiment

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Reason and Normative Embodiment:

On the Philosophical Conception of Disability


This essay attempts to explain the traditional and contemporary philosophical neglect of disability by arguing that the philosophical prioritization of rationality leads to a distinctly philosophical conception of disability as a negative category of non-normative embodiment. I argue that the privilege given to rationality as distinctive of what it means to be both a human subject and a moral agent informs supposedly rational norms of human embodiment. Non-normative types of embodiment in turn can only be understood in contradistinction to these rationalized norms, which are predicated on the elimination of certain features and types of embodiment deemed inimical to reason. To establish this thesis, I focus on Platonic philosophy and the Republic as Platonic conceptions of reason and normative types of embodiment have a historical and conceptual influence on contemporary assumptions concerning rational human nature, medicine, mental health, vice, disease, and impairment.

Key Words:
Philosophy and Disability

Normative Embodiment





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