A Shift in Mindset: Lévinas as Inspiration: Otherness instead of difference and sameness

Bidragets oversatte titel: et skift i tankesæt: Lévinas som inspiration:: "Otherness" i stedet for forskel og "lissom"

Britta Kusk Nørgaard

Publikation: AndetIndlæg i netbaserede medier

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The background for this paper is an ongoing curiosity towards a strange – and probably very tenacious - phenomenon. I have a ph.d.-work behind me, where I analyzed the professional encounter between the professional in a broad social field and the adult human being with some intellectual – and often invisible –impairment. My focus was the quality of this encounter related to (social philosophical) values as recognition, understanding, dignity and autonomy.
In my work I found a surprising silence about this area and about people with intellectual and invisible impairments from this point of view. Very few philosophers take an interest in these people in a positive sense. Kittay and Carlsson are the exceptions who try to give voice to this area, e.g. in Cognitive Disability and its Challenge to Moral Philosophy” (Kittay et al.:2010).
In the disability research you might see some of the explanation to this distance to the area. Waldschmidt refers to Foucault, when she says: disability studies with a touch of “diversity studies” throw the order that science made into disorder, and she also says that a traditional understanding of disability is reductionistic when categorizing (Waldschmidt, Schneider: 2007; Waldschmidt: 2010). In his Foucault-introduction ”The Empty Human Being” Dag Heede says: The modern power of normalization does not seek to standardize the subjects to zombies without any differences, but more effectively by defining the conditions that define individual differences. (Heede:2004:103, my translation).
Attending conferences about policy, practice and education in the field of intellectual disability seem to confirm this experience (IASSID 2016). Differences from a medical point of view are very interesting, and research in this area is very important and helpful. I will not deny or question that. But the transformation into implementing research into very practical and concrete practice seems very difficult, and terms as: “The service providers should take care of this” were mentioned several times without any additional comments. I raised the question how the transformation should take place and of course I thought of education. And still I think that there are more to the success of the encounter between the professional and the human being with an intellectual disability than knowledge of the differences. This knowledge helps the professionals if the diagnosis is important – and sometimes the diagnosis really is crucial – and sometimes the encounter should be based on quite other values of more humanistic art.
Bidragets oversatte titelet skift i tankesæt: Lévinas som inspiration:: "Otherness" i stedet for forskel og "lissom"
Publikationsdato11 dec. 2016
StatusUdgivet - 11 dec. 2016


  • pædagogik


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