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Elvis Imafidon

wow!!! An amazing interview. Just a general comment folks. I really do wish - and I hope I am not wishing for too much - that the dialogues on disability series could have a more wider reach such as becoming an interview aired on an international TV channel. i feel strongly about this because the issues raised and discussed here are not just important to a the academics who participate, read or comment on them, but to a much larger audience of non-academic persons dealing with similar existential issues. everyone can definitely benefit from this.

More ink to your pen Shelley and I wish your interviewees the very best.


Dear Elvis,

thank you so much for your comment. It's important to me that everyone interviewed feel very happy with the series and how they are represented in it. I'm sure that Jesse, Tommy, and Audrey wish the same for the reactions of other interviewees to their comments on the interviews.

As far as global television coverage goes, I certainly wouldn't be opposed to that happening. I do think that many of the issues that get discussed in the interviews have resonance beyond philosophy and academia. That said, I think we shouldn't underestimate how difficult it is to get people to think beyond a narrow, conventional medicalized conception of disability. Furthermore, these interviews may not meet the requirements of the ideas about (for instance) self-governance and self-management that neoliberalism generates in order to reproduce itself.

Christine Overall

Thanks for this wonderful discussion celebrating the second anniversary of the series. I really enjoyed it, and loved the way the themes ran through the various comments.

I have long believed that academia in general, and philosophy in particular, require the development of a particular kind of persona. The function of the persona is, in part, to mask (to the extent possible) characteristics that fail to correspond to the dominant image of the academic--white, male/masculine, cisgendered, heterosexual, young-ish, middle- or owning-class, and without disabilities. When it is not possible to mask their non-conforming characteristics, individuals are expected to strive to help others not to feel uneasy or threatened by virtue of the ways in which they do not correspond to that dominant image.

One of the many great virtues of the "Dialogues on Disability" series is that it both probes the personal and intellectual costs of upholding the dominant image in academia, and reveals the ways in which many people refuse to play along.

Philosophy as a collection of ways of thinking about the world can indeed serve as a form of therapy. But philosophy as an *institution* has often been responsible for sustaining the dominant image, and perpetuating the costs that that image inflicts on anyone who cannot or will not fall in line.

Audrey Yap

I agree very much, Christine! Thanks for that putting that so nicely.


Dear Christine (and Audrey!), thank you for your appreciation of the anniversary installment and the series more generally. Your remarks are, as ever, insightful and thought provoking. I especially like your distinction between philosophy as a cluster of ways to think about the world and philosophy as an institution with its own norms and their attendant costs.

Cecilea Mun

Thank you Shelley, Jesse, Tommy, Audrey, and those contributors that some of you mentioned (Bryony, Joshua, Audrey, Karl, Elvis, Femi, and Anne),

This was a great anniversary installment, and I really appreciated how this interview/discussion summarized and highlighted some of the most important issues that academia (as well as our society at large) is currently facing. One thing I wanted to add to this discussion was the following question that I think must be answered in order for us (as a community of scholars who are also simply ordinary people in our day to day lives): How can we speak to those who we really need to reach the most in order to help them understand the perspectives and concerns of those of us who are marginalized?

This is an especially difficult question, I think, in our current time mostly due to the current economic and political conditions that we are all currently living in. Given the incorporation of technology in our daily lives and short term investment strategies (which have both contributed to the diminishing middle-class), the problematic business model of education that has been active in academia, and the general struggle for resources (including that of social status) that is a consequence of these foregoing factors plus the ever present factors of race, gender, age, and privilege, I think we are living under conditions in which non-marginalized communities have come to conclude that life is a zero-sum game between themselves and the marginalized. Such fears have widened the gap between the marginalized (who have always had to struggle to survive) and the non-marginalized (who are now experiencing the pressure of struggling to survive), especially in these times of great technological advancements. How do we get "them" to see that "our" struggles ought to be recognized and justly addressed if not for any reason other than the simple fact that our struggles may one day also be their struggles.

I think this is one of the most difficult problems of our time, and I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle--in "us" listening to "them" as well as "them" listening to "us." In short in comprise...but how are such compromises reached?

Jake Jackson

Sorry for the slow to move response, but I do want to thank Audrey Yap for her comments, which have given me much to think on.

I don't see myself as opposed to José Medina's arguments for a larger plurality of knowledges, so much as there needs to be a better account of how to navigate competing claims. Further to Medina's point, we have to situate a sense of "epistemic responsibility" (his term) to figure out how better to help those who are marginalized by systemic concerns about mental health.

What I envision, which I see very in line with (some) of the epistemic injustice crowd is developing a marginalized-first discussion of mental health and disorder. There are plenty of instances of chatter across disciplines about the metaphysics of mental illness, but what is more important is not the question of seeking causality, but seeking what helps individuals cope and live flourishing lives in the here and now. Where race and gender theorists often look past the mythology of the "original difference" when discussing praxis, mental health theorists need to do the same, as there is no likelihood in discovering a final breakthrough in our lifetimes. Yes, there is much work to be done in expanding knowledge in psychiatry and medicine to better understand mental health, but importantly now is those left by the wayside of expert and inexpert opinions regarding conditions.

Unlike hermeneutical injustice as it is described in general as looking back on a previous paradigm (think sexual harassment before the coining of the term), being epistemically adrift is in part being left to one's own devices without even the experts agreeing on what the right course of action is.

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