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Posted By Patrick

This blog is born on the road. And I expect it will continue to travel, as I intend to focus on how different social issues and cultural beliefs have been connected, however  loosely, to ideas of intelligence, and have shaped our ideas of intelligence. Why do we – mainstream western types – believe intelligence to be one thing today, when people in another time or in another place might believe it to be something else?

When I was writing the history of ideas of intellectual disability for my book Idiocy: A Cultural History, I was struck that not only had no-one ever tried to take the idea of idiocy and track it through different social and cultural contexts, but that there was next to nothing on intelligence either. Given how much weight we place on intelligence – our own and that of our friends, family, co-workers, enemies, and so on – it seems like there should be plenty of writing on what we understand intelligence to be, and how that might have changed over time and in different cultures, and why those differences across time and space might exist, and finally what all that says about how we think of ourselves as rational, intelligent beings. 

I’m in Australia today, as part of a couple of symposia (love those Latin plurals) on the history of ideas of intellectual disability, one on May 13 at Griffiths University here in Brisbane, the next in Sydney tomorrow on the 18th.

And this seems as good a time as any to launch this blog. Keep posted…