Molyneux’s question and neuroscience of vision

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In his renowned letter to John Locke, the Irish scientist William Molyneux poses the question that has borne his name ever since. Molyneux was interested to know whether a man who was born blind, and who thus learnt to distinguish and name a sphere and a cube by touch only, would be able to distinguish and name these objects only by looking at them once he acquired sight. Molyneux’s question raises several pivotal issues, in variety of fields, ranging from philosophy and epistemology to psychology. Molyneux’s question raises the issue of whether sensory experience is inherently specific to each sensory modality or instead supramodal. According to the empiricist theory of knowledge, although the functioning of one sense can be improved and accelerated by the observations of another, the senses maintain a specificity of their own. As for other newly sighted individuals, the change from condition of independence and autonomy to that of uncertainty and inadequacy eventually resulted in depressive disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMolyneux’s Question and the History of Philosophy
PublisherTaylor and Francis Inc.
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780429671944
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


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