Relating Asperger’s and rationality is not equivalent to the claim that Asperger’s is all good. Asperger’s can render people more honest and sincere, but Aspies are insincere, too. There can be less self-censorship, less falling for deception by social norms. This ‘antisocial’ aspect of Asperger’s syndrome helps rationality, but is nevertheless asocial. Many a campus shooter is afflicted to some extend. Narrowly focused morality can be part of this. Naively, it may sound like a throughout positive aspect if one claims that Asperger sufferers have “Internal motivation – as opposed to being motivated by praise, money, bills or acceptance. This ensures a job done with conscience, with personal pride.” However, what kind of asocial guidelines lurk beneath that “conscience” and “personal pride”? “Praise” and “acceptance” tell us much about the socially endorsed ones, and in a sense, there are fundamentally no others.
Humans are just not that clever; often especially the relatively clever ones are not as clever as they think themselves to be. Intelligence as measured by IQ is not the only issue here. Rationality fails fundamentally anyway because there is no fundamental aim and the socially prescribed aims are inconsistent. Moreover, even relative to clearly defined intermediate aims, humans usually fail to get good results through the application of rationality, because we use rationality usually in order to rationalize, to excuse an already committed act, explaining and justifying our behavior to others and to our own conscience. This is how rational argumentation evolved and it is still its main function!
Rationality fails 1) fundamentally, 2) embarrassingly often practically even for people with high IQ; see “Asperger Love” for example; and moreover 3) rationality of course fails usually with those who are not clever to begin with! Presented with many possible responses that could be delivered, the evolved gut feeling of a socially well functioning person will be better than the rational analysis of an uneducated dimwit. Problems mostly arise from what you do not know, not from the failed juggling of known facts.
Manifestos of the Ted Kaczynski’s and loner-type rampage killers show impressive intelligence but are also intellectual failure. Their inconsistency reveals a character flaw and intellectual failure simultaneously. If they were as honest and rational as they like to believe, they would attack their own inconsistencies. More important than rationality is what you rationalize with it. Simply grabbing a socially endorsed norm and functioning may seem bad, but without, how far can I analyze before I run out of patience with having no face left in the mirror? To go through until the self is deconstructed is extremely difficult, getting stuck somewhere in a dark alley is dangerous for the person itself (suicide) and those around.
Why are many Asperger’s minds depressed?
Asperger’s minds often question. The more questions, the more decisions. The more choices you make, the more alternatives you reject. Every one of those choices can be expressed as a failure in the eyes of other perspectives. If there was no perspective in which the alternative would have been the correct choice, there would not have been a question about it, no decision would have been necessary. In complex political discourse for example, there is always another perspective; every tiny act is a decision; there is always somebody who could be conceivably negatively affected. In this example, it is not just misguided interpretation about other humans. Other humans do indeed identify in complex ways, each aiming to mark him or herself as a unique individual by identifying with a whole assortment of perspectives, including political ways of perceiving issues.
The typical Asperger’s rationality is tuned into the avoidance of potentially hurtful choices. Perspectivism, the conceiving to walk in someone’s shoes, allows such negatively focused analysis to easily construct a timeline of 100% negative choices to be sorry for: In somebody’s eyes, all I do is wrong, and she may turn out correct in the end.
Aspergers’ depression also correlates with persistent, early onset existential stress starting with school ground mobbing and going over into lifelong misinterpretation and discrimination that especially those on the highfunctioning autism spectrum often quietly suffer. And there are other hypotheses. It would be wrong to stress perspectivism in cases of campus shooters like Elliot Rodger, who failed to take the perspective of those who avoided him. The Asperger’s moralizing and clinging to the fair-world illusion relate to depression, too.
Nevertheless, rationalism alone can be argued to naturally tend to the opposite of “ignorance is bliss”. The opposite of bliss is depression. Or as Andrew Solomon in Depression, the Secret we share states, the opposite of depression is vitality. Vitality, the ‘life force’, the will to act, to decide – the opposite of life is death.
Awareness of death and a partial dying before death are necessary for enlightenment; all the wiser teachings have this in common, from A as in Ascetic self-mortification of Indian holy men going through their death initiation ritual, over B as in Buddha, all the way to Z for Zen. Plato held all philosophy to be preparation for death. Castaneda introduced death as your best personal friend. To which I add: You do not need to run after death; death does not run away; he waits for you so you can take life slowly. Death is always there for you; even in your darkest hour you can summon him to your side and he will be there for you.
Death and suicide is more easily on the Asperger’s mind, because we are able to look at taboo issues less impeded by social norms. This can make her or mostly him indeed dangerous to others. People who want to end their lives are immune to the force of deterrence, of punishment by the consequences of their acts. Loose cannons!
Postmodern Paralysis, Taoist Wu Wei (without action)
All of this can be said to be malfunctions, deficiencies, and illness to be medicated away! All of this can be said to be wonderfully cool and creative instead, especially in a coffee house TED talk atmosphere: “Pamper me”, I scream in fear of the mob, “let me survive as a potentially adaptive aberration in the reservoir of variability that any evolved system keeps in order to participate in the accelerating Red Queen races.” Perhaps Aspies are your last weapon against the robopocalypse. The truth is not somewhere in between. There is no truth here but what you happen to believe in or fight for.
The ancient philosophers tried to find the truth and the good. Modern philosophers do not claim to be able to say what is good; they claim to merely say what is, not how it should be. Postmodern philosophers understand that if you “merely say what is”, you prescribe a perspective, a way in which “what is” should be seen! Therefore, the postmodern thinker (not merely) questions perspectives rather than “saying what is”. This is in a way just another level of “saying what is”, because it describes options, the options of “what can be seen as existent”, or worse: “what does my questioning construct by steering your attention that way”. Postmodern philosophers question while being aware of the power of questioning over the discourse. The next step over (not “after”) this is silence.