Monday, November 22, 2010

Wittgenstein, Understanding, and Autism

The new piece on The Stone, "Beyond Understanding," would have been much better if the author had just used the point about "mind-blindness" associated with autism to open up the more general problem of understanding others in everyday life, rather than trying to use autism to explain those various misunderstandings (or the particular idiosyncrasies of Wittgenstein and other philosophers).

"Everyone is mad" is just too cliched for me. It seems like every mental disorder goes through a period of interpretation during which people try to suggest that everyone has the disorder to some degree. This leads to silly-sounding claims, but I can see how this kind of idea, done properly (and I'm not sure the author, Andy Martin, completely succeeds here) would help generate an appropriate kind of empathy for those who are more seriously afflicted.


  1. I couldn't quite tell whether he was saying that everyone is mad, but he certainly gives the impression that famous male philosophers tend to be. This is not helpful in a blog intended to encourage a wider audience to take an interest in philosophy. I don't think it's true, either, although there is a bit of an Asperger's feel about some contemporary philosophy. And empathy (or at least sympathy) for the afflicted seems to be completely lacking from the article.

  2. There is quite a ripping of this piece on Leiter Reports now.