SAAP Annual Meeting 2014

Papers Proceedings »

Disruption and Plasticity: Dewey, Disability and Re-conceiving Well-Being

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Recently, scholars working in disability studies have called for re-conceiving accounts of well-being in a disabled figure. In response to this call, I show that Dewey’s work on habits and plasticity enables these conceptions. In examining S. Kay Toombs’ analysis of the experience of disability as the “disruption of the lived body,” we see that conditions of disability necessitate continually re-confronting disruptions to one’s working organization of the environment. Dewey’s analysis of plasticity and habit-formation allow us to articulate an account of well-being in a person equipped to face the disruptions that Toombs describes. This conception informs goals of education for disabled individuals, and, insofar as we are inclined to think that experiences of disability are more broadly shared, we should think of this conception as generally applicable. Finally, it provides a challenge to other, culturally popular, accounts underlying education in terms of a tendency to produce disruptions.


Nate Jackson    
Baylor University
United States


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