“Greasing the Skids”: Interdisciplinary Rhetoric and Mindblindness

John Marinan


The idea of mindblindness reaching outside of neuroscience is an important one. It is significant because there is concern in all quarters about the prevalence and meaning of autism diagnoses. Secondly, mindblindness rhetoric reflects the kinds of rhetorical devices scholars use to analyze this theory. Finally, mindblindness is a fertile ground for research collaboration between neuroscientists, social scientists and humanities scholars as it skirts the boundaries of disciplinarity.

What about mindblindness theory makes it an interdisciplinary phenomenon, complete with interdisciplinary collaborations and mutual knowledge-seeking? I argue in this paper that specific forms of rhetoric “grease the skids,” meaning that they can be construed flexibly in both the neuroscientific language and the “other-discipline” language. Because of the flexibility of these rhetorical conveyances, interdisciplinary collaboration has exploded around mindblindness dialogue, despite the traditional differences in disciplinary methodology.


autism; mindblindness; rhetoric; interdisciplinarity


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