The History of Feeblemindedness: A Historico-philosophical Inquiry Into the Difficulty of Integrating a Particularly Unnoticed Presence of Feeblemindedness Into the Danish Competitive Work Market

Jonathan Hentze Drescher & Peter Niklas Birksted

Student thesis: Master thesis


In 1920, Karl Kristian Steincke expressed a concern for the unnoticed presence of Aandssvaghed (feeblemindedness) and its potential negative influence on the Danish competitive work market. This thesis is a historico-philosophical inquiry into the relations between this unnoticed presence of Aandssvaghed and how it became a concern in relation to the Danish competitive work market. The thesis covers the period between 1842 to 1920, from when Aandssvaghed appeared as a medicopedagogical term between 1842 and 1890, to its conception and formation as something the competitive work market should either be protected from or able to include. The inquiry it structured according to four chapters that allow for the conjoint examination of how Aandssvaghed emerged as a concern in relation to a work market on one hand and on the other of how Aandssvaghed through the formation between work market, developmental deficiency and traits of intelligence and self-control. Through the use of problematization and experience analysis, as conceived by Michel Foucault, conceptualized by Marius Gudmand-Høyer and further developed with the work of this thesis in mind, the thesis conducted this conjoint inquiry centered around the notion of the unnoticed presence of Aandssvaghed, and the investigation found the notion to have emerged as an object of concern in relation to a competitive work market due to the inherent double-binding relationship of responsibility to be inherent to the collective experience of Aandssvaghed. It is further indicated that even though Aandssvaghed is no longer applied as diagnosis or as classification of any kind of mental deficiency, the way in which build our contemporary understanding of what competitiveness and development means in relation to work market, and that it these aspects have a stronger correlation with the emergence and relevance of Aandssvaghed than what was expected to be the case.

EducationsMsc in Business Administration and Philosophy, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages123
SupervisorsMarius Gudmand-Høyer