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Essentialism

December 26, 2007

I would say that “Asperger’s” is merely a name for a category of neurological attributes. Scientists observe similar attributes in certain individuals and term it a “syndrome.” However, the syndrome is nothing more than a word, a social construction, not the attributes themselves. Treating the category or construction as a universal, as a real thing, is called essentialism (or “naive” ontological realism). Nominalists, like myself, reject essentialism as metaphysical speculation.

It assume that Asperger’s autism is not a “thing” which one adjusts to. Rather, it is a useful convention which explains certain categories of neurological diversity. Accepting the label is not the same as accepting it uncritically and without modification.

For instance, I have observed that some people relate to Asperger’s autism as an object and ask whether they “have it.” I relate to Asperger’s autism as a category, a social construction, which can be deconstructed.

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