Temple Grandin’s “The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum” [1] belongs to a new(ly fashionable but old) way of thinking that supports my own approach, namely that pathologic (psychopathic) thinking is necessary for new-enlightenment, for example in the face of existential dangers evolving in the technological substrate (Robopocalypse, Global Suicide). There are less techno-age fashionable justifications for abnormal perspective-taking philosophy also [2] and putting yourself in someone’s shoes is not a new idea anyway – but doing so with pedophiles, mass murderers, or so called ‘terrorists’ happens to be the edge of acceptable today.

One perspective is Asperger syndrome/autism spectrum like cognitive closure toward normal social perception, which is likely relevant to future AI, or for understanding psychopathic feigning of social fitting-in, including pretend moral concern and empathy. Aiming also for advanced authenticity, I (high on and off all kinds of spectra) ask:

Am I completely ‘wrong’ relative to the ‘proper’ social description (?),

 namely in that my ‘insights’ about ‘others just playing the game and partially not noticing and not being able admitting to do so’ are simply ‘sick thoughts’, because the good and normal others are ahead of me in that they ‘play the game’ much better than I can do, and thus, they play it ‘all the way’? Do they not only deceive others, but, as proper social beings, do they ‘deceive’ even themselves, and is that precisely what a healthy pre-frontal cortex and ‘Emotional Intelligence Quotient’ are about?

We have two perspectives here, one as closed to the other as the other to the first! The above implicitly defined ‘good’ philosopher cannot possibly conclude that she “plays the game all the way”, because admitting so equals not playing it all the way. Neither can the 'autistic system' feel the way the socially adept one does (it is like a bat to her), nor is it any use to ask the social system something like “Hey, just between you and me, I won’t tell others you said so, promised, they won’t trust me saying so anyway if I were to tell, so tell me, do you actually admit the house of cards you are living to yourself?

The ‘properly’ social one cannot, depending on definitions, admit even to ‘itself’. Complex cognitive systems have non-trivial self-identification (discussed in authenticity). Any such system harbors suppressed modules that could take over if somehow induced, say by chemical means (MDMA is social glue and ‘empathogen’ for some, ‘anti-social drug’ according to others). Since this is how we function, what is dishonesty, what authenticity?

The ‘Asperger system’ is uncertain about whether the social system is this or that way, which is part of its (miss)functioning, and a label like “advanced” can only be assigned by some or other particular perspective. Conceivable futures have one or the other type of thinking more prevalent or involved in power structures. Relative to some perspectives, any claimed ‘good answer’ to the ‘do we all just self-deceive in different ways’ question will always appear as a conveniently legitimized removal of that version from the (thus) ‘established’ discourse (~ Foucault).

A related issue is the fundamental question of philosophy (compare [3]): Can one admit conceivably accessible ‘truth’ if such tells how “should” is meaningful and that we should deny it? Put dialectically again (as a dialogue between me and you perhaps):

Is the other not (yet) able to grasp the issue like I already can, or has he/it already seen much further before me, thus concluded correctly, and is thus denying what I hold self-evident?

Now tell me, especially those ‘on the spectrum’****, the psychopaths, the paranoid and psychonauts or otherwise abnormal, the robots and sentinels (that philosophical system which speaks about and to the future, talks about and to systems, not only humans, but such cognitive structures as virtual reality embedded AI and complex social systems):

Does this speak to you and how so?

(Stop - dear potential commentators - this is alphameme (on the 'next level' by design), the article is in the philosophy section, it is a science column, and the title claims a core question in philosophy (~ love of a certain concept called "truth"), and there are sentences like "We have two perspectives here, one as closed to the other as the other to the first!" in an article on perspective taking - hmmmm - soooooo - think before you comment! New tautological comment policy: I delete whatever I delete.)


[1] Temple Grandin and Richard Panek: “The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum” Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


[2] A single uniquely convincing fundamental description can at most be achieved implicitly, in a ‘merely’ implied way. We must thus illuminate equivalences between descriptions that are mutually exclusive (relative to naïve truth concepts), and show where they cannot be transformed smoothly into each other, denying a peaceful coexistence. Progress on fundamental physics (Postmodern Physics as Description Relativity) and philosophy of mind cannot be had otherwise (see also ‘postmodern core belief PCB’ in Reformulating the Postmodern Core Insight).


[3] Compare with PMCI in [2]: “In my description, the Postmodern Core Insight (PMCI) is that the conceivable state of having a ‘deeper’ truth beyond this PMCI, is strictly logically negated by that “I”* can never trust (!)** such truth without a substantial and thus always corrupting transformation of what is (defines) me.”


* Understanding this PMCI properly needs personal-identity theory

** Trust relates to ‘social constructionist’ analysis of power structures, for example academic scientific community in terms of evolution of enforced belief systems, but all thought is social/inter-subjective***.

*** Mind and perception emerge via and imply a society of modules in mutual selective discourse, e.g. inside our brains (Society of Mind [M.Minsky], Neural Darwinism [G. Edelman], Consciousness as Fame in the Brain [D. Dennett], non-anthropocentric, transhuman version of the ‘Publicity of Sense’ [Wittgenstein: “Philosophical Investigations.” (1953)]); all thought is “social” as inter-subjective, this puts Wittgenstein’s ‘private language’ arguments in the proper perspective. Language and perception/mind are thus not just social, but doubly so, from above and below.


**** The Autism-Spectrum Quotient [AQ] was created by Psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen and coworkers at Cambridge's Autism Research Centre. It measures the extent of autistic traits in adults. An average score in a control group was 16.4.  80% of those diagnosed with autism or related disorders score 32 and above. Many who score above and meet the diagnostic criteria for mild autism or Asperger's report no difficulty functioning in their everyday lives.