Irina Metzler
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The infantile and the irrational
Mind, soul and intellectual disability
in Fools and idiots?
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Philosophically, and subsequently judicially, medieval intellectual disability (ID) was considered the absence of reason, the irrational, which contrasted the intellectually disabled with the bowdlerised Aristotelian concept of man as the rational animal. Late antique and early medieval authorities already debated the importance of intellectual abilities, especially logical reasoning and abstraction, for example Nemesius in his tractate on the soul. This chapter enhances our understanding of how late antique through to medieval notions of reason, intellect and the definition of being human had informed a discourse of ID. Augustine could consider that while people with ID 'may not be particularly valued in this world, they are at least part of the divine plan and as such human'. Albertus Magnus, in Ethica, considered the three things within the soul that guide action and truth, namely sensory perception, intellect and the appetitive urge.

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Fools and idiots?

Intellectual disability in the Middle Ages


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