Imagining Oneself as Another: Autism and the Problem of Other Minds

Williams, Matthew
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
Autism is a mystery wrapped in a conundrum and tied together by a bow made of occlusion: basically, for all the research that goes into trying to understand the nature of autism, we understand very little about it. What is understood about autism is merely facts about behavior and based in observable differences between individuals with autism from neurotypicals (non-autistic individuals). However, the theories that arise to explained what is observed, lacking a solid basis in autism itself, result in speculation and misrepresentation of the extent of the problems, if not their very nature. This leads to a great many problems, some of which are of major philosophical importance. The goal of this thesis is to address a number of these problematic theories and conceptions about autism, both directly and by the indirect means of addressing the problems with the assumptions regarding the natures of consciousness, cognition, and language, which all back these various theories. In addressing the background assumptions inherent in the position of scientists and autism researchers alike, we can better come to understand the true nature of the processes that undergird autism by analyzing closely the points of incongruence at the intersection between these ideas of scientists and the problems themselves.
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