Over the coming weeks, I will document Alan Griswold’s examination of Wittgenstein and autism in his recent book Autistic Symphony (iUniverse, Inc., 2007). It is also available online here


The book divides into five parts, or “five movements”, as Griswold puts it:

I. On the Presence of Autism Within the Human Population
II. The World as Wittgenstein Found It
III. The Score is Still Q to 12
IV. Did Jesus Christ Have Autism?
V. Worldblindness 

According to Griswold, autism is much more than a neurological condition. Many of the most innovative autistics have made profound contributions to society. Autistic traits evident in individuals such as Michelangelo, Einstein, Yeats, Turing and Wittgenstein play an essential part in the immense impact of their innovations. Those of us who are non-autistic owe in large measure a great debt to autistics for helping mankind take the “dramatic leap from savannah-bound primate to questing knight to a massive universe.”

Autistics develop a cognition based on patterns and symmetries to be found in the larger environment. This stands in stark contrast to the identification of the human surroundings in non-autistic thought processes.  In “The World as Wittgenstein Found It”, Griswold treats Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus as a model to bring the essential features of autistic cognition to light. The TLP serves as the autistic cognitive model par exellence because it combines the fundamental elements of autistic autobiography and the world as a form of cognition, or a living, unfolding thought process.  

Next: Griswold on the TLP as a model of autistic cognition