Skip to 0 minutes and 2 secondsMAN: FutureLearn. [THEME MUSIC] UNSW Australia. Introduction to Week 6.

Skip to 0 minutes and 12 secondsLOUISA SMITH: Welcome to week six of the MOOC, the final week. Congratulations. And thank you for joining us on this process of thinking through disability. This week we're going to be returning to a central concept that we've been exploring through the MOOC. And that's this relationship between a good life and disability. And how thinking about disability and thinking about a good life can help inform one another. So you've just watched a video where a number of people who we've been following through the six weeks of the MOOC have talked about what they think a good life is. And they start with this concept of-- that a good life is just meeting these basic needs. That it's a really relative idea.

Skip to 1 minute and 3 secondsThat we need to just start by having these things met-- food, shelter, these basic ideas. And everybody needs these needs met in order to have a groundwork and a foundation for a good life.

Skip to 1 minute and 16 secondsKELLEY JOHNSON: But then they also say that it's not enough.

Skip to 1 minute and 19 secondsLOUISA SMITH: Yeah, they do say that it's not enough. And that, in some ways, relates to impairment and disability. Jordana mentions that this idea of access means that food, and shelter, and these other elements need an extra layer of support. So I think one of the things that I really loved about talking to the people who were in these videos over a number of weeks was just thinking through, OK, what is it that disability can add to this concept of a good life. And I remember Duncan saying, well, if I didn't have my impairment, I'd be like everyone else with my iPhone on public transport not looking, you know, not engaging with anybody else.

Skip to 2 minutes and 8 secondsAnd so for him, his impairment meant greater connection with others. And that was really important to his sense of a good life. I think that this idea of "a" good life is very, very different from the conception of "the" good life. And when we think about a good life, it is something that we make for ourselves, that we forge. And where there's a diversity. A good life means very different things for different people. "The" good life is a much more defined, limited concept. And I think when we start thinking about "the" good life, we really close off the diversity of experience.

Skip to 2 minutes and 50 secondsAnd instead, we start settling for really normative ideas around things like the good life means happiness or the good life means marriage and children. And I think when we start thinking like that, we really limit down the concept of a good life. So this week, we're trying to unpick some of these ideas and these nuances and think about what can disability and what can these stories add to our conception of a good life.

Skip to 3 minutes and 19 secondsKELLEY JOHNSON: OK, so part of this week is to revisit some of the philosophy that we've talked a bit about before, but to go into that in a bit more detail. And I think that's important because although not many of us go off and read from Plato through to Foucault-- Yeah, no I did it, so-- it is, philosophy actually is part of the way in which we construct our societies. And it influences the way we relate to each other and the way in which we actually think about ourselves.

Skip to 4 minutes and 1 secondSo in thinking about Western philosophy, one of the things that you'll explore is that for a lot of philosophers over time in Western philosophy issues around reason, and being able to reflect on your life, and plan, and make decisions, and reflect on those was very important. It has meant that that appears, that whole idea of reason appears, in a lot of the rights documents that we have. It's even, if you go and look, in the UN Declaration of Rights, of Human Rights. So that whole concept of reason is quite central. And that-- have a think for a minute about what that might mean for not just people with intellectual disabilities, but for other groups within our society.

Skip to 4 minutes and 52 secondsSo the whole idea of philosophy and the different ways in which people have tried to explore a good life are really important in thinking about how people with disabilities live their lives now. And I'd encourage you, as well as looking at the Western philosophy videos that we have, to have a look also in the last part of this week at the Eastern philosophical position about a good life.

Skip to 5 minutes and 20 secondsLOUISA SMITH: Yeah, it's really interesting to have those comparisons, I think, and to see these really different nuances around what a good life is, and then think through, what does this mean for our understanding of disability and where it comes from. So thank you very much. And enjoy this final week of the MOOC.

Welcome to Week 6

In the above video, Kelley and Louisa respond to the stories from the previous step and introduce the week.

As we discussed at the beginning of this course, we have chosen “a good life” as a central theme. But we also suggested that whilst the concept of a good life underpins aspirations for all of us in the way we live our lives — and has been a central concern of Western philosophers — it is not often applied to disabled people, particularly to those with severe and complex impairments.

Next we will explore some Western philosophical concepts related to ideas about a good life and interrogate the value of some of these concepts, such as independence, rights, choice and inclusion. Whilst these are not “wrong”’ values, we need to see that these values

  • are often ill-defined when applied to people with disabilities;
  • may be inadequately connected to policy and implementation;
  • may prevent us from properly considering other important ideas that are equally or more relevant to disabled people themselves, such as respect, intimacy and interdependence.

However, whilst considering a good life is an important theme, we are not aiming to provide a recipe or solution for disabled people, support workers or policy-makers. Like many of the concepts we have explored in this course so far, the intention is instead to open up discussion, to provide a constructive and creative means of thinking about the current lives of people with disabilities — in all their many variations and differences, and in diverse locations and contexts across the globe.

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Disability and a Good Life: Thinking through Disability

UNSW Sydney

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: