Disavowing Disability examines the role that disability, both as a
concept and an experience, played in seventeenth-century debates
about salvation and religious practice. Exploring how the use and
definition of the term 'disability' functioned to allocate agency
and culpability, this study argues that the post-Restoration
imperative to capacitate 'all men'-not just the 'elect'-entailed a
conceptual circumscription of disability, one premised on a
normative imputation of capability. The work of Richard Baxter,
sometimes considered a harbinger of 'modernity' and one of the most
influential divines of the Long Eighteenth Century, elucidates this
multifarious process of enabling. In constructing an ideology of
ability that imposed moral self-determination, Baxter encountered a
germinal form of the 'problem' of disability in liberal theory.
While a strategy of 'inclusionism' served to assimilate most
manifestations of alterity, melancholy presented an intractability
that frustrated the logic of rehabilitation in fatal ways. This
title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.
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