Friday, March 19, 2010
Neurotypical Mental and Emotional Handicaps (Part III)
(Part I, II)
The neurotypical mind does not think of human beings as isolated minds. They operate on an Aristotelian "man is a political animal" model. Of course, even to talk about models, when dealing with neurotypicals is misleading because their method of thinking is a rejection of precisely the sort of abstract universal rule creation necessary for models. Neurotypicals tend to only think of human beings in terms of their interrelationship with others and the society building that results from this. This method of thinking emphasizes, not abstract rules, but arbitrary codes of behavior that serves to further the desired relationship. The neurotypical does not ask whether an action is in keeping with universal ethical imperatives, but whether it is good manners, whether, given one's place in a given social structure, it is acceptable to do something to someone else who in turn occupies their place in the social structure.
It should be obvious from this that, one, the neurotypical mind sets itself up for hierarchal non-democratic social structures. There is no reason for a neurotypical to reject hierarchy particularly as he strives to gain a favorable position in it. If one wonders as to the slow progress of democratic reform it can be placed on neurotypicals. It is the Asperger mental universe that insists that the world be governed by universal rational law applied equally to everyone as much as possible. All beings capable of a certain baseline of rational thought (including neurotypicals who reject their mental heritage) are welcome to this society as equals. Equality is inherent in that one is either capable of a baseline of reason or one is not. People like Thomas Jefferson, Immanuel Kant, and Adam Smith were most likely Aspergers; whether or not they were in fact, their thinking is distinctively Asperger. Even today, most people struggle with the notion that political rights only exist in so far as man is a creature of reason, capable of contemplating universal laws and thus come to form rules for all to live by. Modern liberalism is an attempt to force the concept of rights into a neurotypical social thought structure. Rights are said to belong to groups and defend social relations. For example, we now have the concept of gay rights and that they have some sort of right to have their social interaction of getting married recognized by the government and society. (Not that I object to gay marriage in of itself.)
The other thing that should be clear is that the neurotypical mindset is incapable of a "theory of mind." In the neurotypical mental universe, there is no such thing as individual minds. All minds exist in relationship with other minds. I have lived my life with the realization that other minds are not like mine. If I have one thing it is a theory of mind. With no hope of understanding other minds, I place my faith in reason as the only thing that can allow for the meeting of minds necessary to build a society. Neurotypicals, living in a world where people, at least on the surface, have similar minds, are not confronted with the life experiences to tell them otherwise and have no reason to form a theory of mind in the first place. Confident in the belief that everyone else is fundamentally like them they hoist their emotions on other people. These similar emotions are the product not so much of the similarity of minds, but the relationship network that passes on otherwise arbitrary sets of rules and expectations.
I would like to end with a word about emotions. Why should I not strive to be sensitive as to other people's emotions? To an extent obviously, I do make an effort. To do otherwise would be social suicide. What I refuse to do is grant moral legitimacy to emotions. One has no right to consider emotional hurt as a legitimate wrong or to counter with physical actions that could not otherwise be justified. I grant that this is an extreme position, but to say otherwise would set me up for blackmail. I am outside the relational thought structure of neurotypicals and do not understand the emotions that come from it. To say that I have to take such things into account means that I have to live my life jumping at the shadows of things I do not understand and being forced to accept whatever value other people put on their own emotions. To make things worse, since my emotions run on such a different track, as they are outside of a relational thought structure, I can never expect other people to take them into account. Thus, I would find myself enslaved to other people's emotional concerns at the same time as everyone else becomes exempt from taking my emotional concerns into account. I would de facto be relegating myself to a subhuman station; my emotional concerns being of less value than that of others. Either my emotions count the same as everyone else's or no one's emotions count. Since the former is not practical, the only ethical solution is to say that no person's emotional concerns are of any value outside of their own heads.
The only thing that can create meaningful relationships between people and ultimately create a just society is reason as we submit ourselves to universal laws that apply to all people in all times. This is not Asperger supremacy. On the contrary the authority of reason comes from the fact that it is universally accessible. This includes neurotypicals. Neurotypicals, despite their mental defects, are not beyond the saving grace of reason and are welcome to join the society of reasonable and rational beings.