‘Will-nots’ and ‘cannots’
Tracing a trope in medieval thought
in Intellectual disability
Abstract only
Log-in for full text

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

manchesterhive requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals - to see content that you/your institution should have access to, please log in through your library system or with your personal username and password.

If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/extracts and download selected front and end matter. 

Institutions can purchase access to individual titles; please contact manchesterhive@manchester.ac.uk for pricing options.

ACCESS TOKENS

If you have an access token for this content, you can redeem this via the link below:

Redeem token

For medieval thinkers, a prominent philosophical, religious and legal problem concerned how to distinguish between the ‘will-not’ and the ‘can-not’. Amassing medieval evidence for the characterization these 'types', this chapter considers the tension between people regarded as not wanting to do something and people incapable of doing something despite perhaps wanting to. The 'genuine fool' was accorded preferential treatment in all these realms, but the 'pretend fool' was regarded with suspicion, and was perceived as morally dubious, even dangerous. Precisely because cognitive disability is not something writ large on the body, like a crippled limb, medieval commentators were worried by it, just as they were worried by deafness (equally invisible and also causing communication and moral issues). It is the behaviour rather than the physique that is highlighted as being different from 'the norm'. It is a sign of more modern times that physical appearance comes to be more strongly linked to cognitive disability. Medieval children appear to have been categorised by their learning ability as expressed through behaviour, not physiognomy.

Intellectual disability

A conceptual history 1200–1900

INFORMATION

TABLE OF CONTENTS
METRICS

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 80 22 0
Full Text Views 28 6 0
PDF Downloads 20 5 0
RELATED CONTENT