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Perceiving 'Other' Minds: Autism, 4E Cognition, and the Idea of Neurodiversity

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The neurodiversity movement has called for a rethinking of autistic mindedness. It rejects the commonplace tendency to theorize autism by foregrounding a set of deficiencies in behavioural, cognitive, and affective areas. Instead, the idea is, our conception of autistic mindedness ought to foreground that autistic persons, often in virtue of their autism, experience the world in manners that can be immensely meaningful to themselves and to human society at large. In this paper I presuppose that the idea of neurodiversity is worth taking seriously and I explore to what extent it can be accommodated within a 4E cognition framework by scrutinizing two 4E approaches to autistic mindedness: Shaun Gallagher's interactionism (2004; 2008) and Hanne De Jaegher's autopoietic enactivism (2013). Although these accounts share a number of theoretical commitments, they are also marked by different points of emphasis. Though seemingly innocuous, I show that these differences end up having a significant impact on how autistic mindedness is brought in view and how, correspondingly, the idea of neurodiversity can get a foothold.
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Keywords: 4E cognition; autism; autopoietic enactivism; interactionism; neurodiversity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: January 1, 2020

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