TED: Temple Grandin

by Jason Stotts

In one of the most epistemologically interesting videos I’ve ever seen, Temple Grandin talks about what it is like to think as an autistic person.  From the description:

Temple Grandin, diagnosed with autism as a child, talks about how her mind works — sharing her ability to “think in pictures,” which helps her solve problems that neurotypical brains might miss. She makes the case that the world needs people on the autism spectrum: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart geeky kids.

The implications for epistemology that different minds can think differently is astounding!  In fact, it could completely change the way that epistemology is done today.  Instead of assuming that one human nature means that there is one right way to think, it might mean that there are multiple valid ways to think.  This means that we may have to have an epistemology that is capable of accommodating these different thinking styles.  For example, “pattern thinkers” have a distinct advantage for mathematics and music.  As an abstract cognitive thinker, I find music and art impossible, but Philosophy very easy.  Epistemology should be able to integrate all of these different ways of thinking and be able to give a cogent account of them.

I’m going to be getting her book soon and I’m planning an essay on this subject for sometime in the near future, after I learn more about it.  Until then, take a look at her video from TED.

3 Responses to “TED: Temple Grandin”


  1. Lady Baker

    I actually link to this video in a post for next week's Objectivist Roundup. Her books are fascinating and often inspiring to me as a parent.

    http://theplayfulspiritrachel.blogspot.com/2010/03/autism-experience.html

  2. Jason

    Lady Baker,

    Thanks, I'll check out your post. Can you recommend one of her books over the others that deals specifically with the differences in thinking between autistic minds and non-austic minds?

    ~Jason

  3. Lady Baker

    This is the one that I have experience with, besides that I've listened to many of her lectures and read her articles:
    Thinking In Pictures: and Other Reports from My Life with Autism (Paperback)

    Her website has articles and offers options for further study:
    http://www.templegrandin.com/templehome.html