Modern conception of disability

GSSR announces the 14 Seminar in our New Seminar Series addressed to both early career and established researchers.


Damian Wyżkiewicz, PhD student (Year 4, Philosophy) at GSSR presents on “Modern conception of disability.”Dr. Monika Rogowska-Stangret (University of Białystok) provides comments, while Agata Bielińska, GSSR doctoral candidate in Philosophy, moderates the discussion.

The Seminar Series brings together PhD students and faculty from GSSR and beyond who are working in the same field, to promote closer interaction and open collaboration opportunities. GSSR students present well-advanced research related to their dissertation, with experienced scholars from academic centres in Poland and abroad taking the role of commentators.

Seminar #14, Programme

  • Chair: Agata Bielińska, GSSR
  • 3.00 pm – Introduction: Prof. Agata Bielik-Robson (supervisor), IFiS PAN
  • 3.05 pm – Presentation: Damian Wyżkiewicz “Modern conception of disability”
  • 3.50 pm – Comments, Dr. Monika Rogowska-Stangret, University of Białystok
  • 4.10 pm – Discussion
  • 4.25 pm – Final remarks


Damian Wyżkiewicz
PhD candidate, Philosophy
GSSR, Year 4

The aim of my research is to construct a modern concept of disability based on modern philosophy. Today, there are many different disciplines dealing with the subject of disability, especially intellectual disability. Poland and world scientific literature focuses on helping people with intellectual disabilities from the medical, psychological (clinical psychology), pedagogical (special education) and social (disability studies or cultural anthropology) point of view, but does not take into account the most important issue – what is a disability? What is the ontic status of a person with a disability, is the disability a real being, is there a difference between a physical and intellectual disability. Philosophy, and more specifically philosophical anthropology, should seek answers to these questions. However, philosophy as such deals a priori with healthy man and all disease whether dysfunction is treated as evil. Such thinking in the context of the philosophy of suffering was presented, for example, by Viktor Frankl, and in Poland by Wojciech Chudy. However, the lack of a broader reflection on the essence of mental disability repeatedly led to people being misunderstood with intellectual disability, and in extreme cases to their discrimination. In my work I will be trying to break the paradigm of disability as evil or suffering. Instead, I would like to propose a new paradigm that will be open to new achievements in research on disability, especially disability studies. Person with a physical or mental disability is not a person with some kind of handicap, deficiency, suffering from “God’s punishment”, but a person who fully deserves to live in harmony with other people without the burden of stigmatization.

My main research hypothesis is the possibility of going beyond the philosophy of suffering in the discourse on disability and basing it on broader horizons, such as existential philosophy and the philosophy of relations based on a deep analysis of the writings of various modern philosophers, starting with Johann G. Herder including his “The origins of language”.

My research will be divided into three stages, in which it will take into account the following aspects: in the first part ontological-phenomenological; in the second part, the cognitive aspect and communicative (forms of communication); in the third part, the feminist aspect, the biopolitical aspect and the oriental from the point of view of Eastern philosophy.

The basic method of my research work will be the analytical-synthetic method. I will present the journals (books, articles, interviews, etc.) of selected authors: incl. Johann G. Herder, Barry Smith, Jacques Lacan, Antoni Kępiński, Arnold Gehlen, Wojciech Chudy, Michel Foucault, Viktor Frankl, Peter Singer, and many more.

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