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A Constructive Theology of Intellectual Disability:Human Being as Mutuality and Response

Human Being as Mutuality and Response

Molly C. Haslam

Publication Year: 2011

Responding to how little theological research has been done on intellectual (as opposed to physical) disability, this book asks, on behalf of individuals with profound intellectual disabilities, what it means to be human. That question has traditionally been answered with an emphasis on an intellectual capacity the ability to employ concepts or to make moral choicesand has ignored the value of individuals who lack such intellectual capacities.The author suggests, rather, that human being be understood in terms of participation in relationships of mutual responsiveness, which includes but is not limited to intellectual forms of communicating.She supports her argument by developing a phenomenology of how an individual with a profound intellectual disability relates, drawn from her clinical experience as a physical therapist. She thereby demonstrates that these individuals participate in relationships of mutual responsiveness, though in nonsymbolic, bodily ways.To be human, to image God, she argues, is to respond to the world around us in any number of ways, bodily or symbolically. Such an understanding does not exclude people with intellectual disabilities but rather includes them among those who participate in the image of God.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii

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pp. 1-18

People with disabilities in the United States have been mobilizing for more than a century in the struggle to overcome injustice and oppression. In 1850, deaf people established local organizations to advocate for their interests...

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1. Gordon Kaufman: Human Being as Intentional Agent

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pp. 19-35

For Gordon Kaufman, theology is work of the human imagination. It is not a description of how things “really” are. We have no direct access to the referent of our concept of God, and thus we have no way of determining the accuracy...

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2. George Lindbeck: Human Being as Language User

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pp. 36-52

Unlike Gordon Kaufman, whose theological anthropology is developed thoroughly and explicitly, George Lindbeck does not develop a full-fl edged theological anthropology in the course of his writings. His major work...

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3. Human Being in Relational Terms: A Phenomenology

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pp. 53-66

As an alternative to defining human beings as creatures who possess the capacity for conceptualization, in the next two chapters I claim that human being is better understood in relational terms, as participation in relationships...

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4. Martin Buber’s Anthropology

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pp. 67-91

For Martin Buber, there is no “nature of human being” in the sense of some isolatable capacity or metaphysical substance, such as the soul, located within an individual human being. Any attempt to understand human being in this...

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5. Imago Dei as Rationality or Relationality: History and Construction

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pp. 92-116

When throughout the centuries Christians have had questions about the meaning of human life, they have turned to a concept, traditionally rendered in Latin: the imago Dei. The term comes from the Hebrew scriptures...


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pp. 117-129


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pp. 131-134

E-ISBN-13: 9780823249299
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823239405
Print-ISBN-10: 0823239403

Page Count: 144
Publication Year: 2011