Chapter

Blind Man Seeing

Edith Wyschogrod

in Crossover Queries

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2006 | ISBN: 9780823226061
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235148 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fso/9780823226061.003.0008

Series: Perspectives in Continental Philosophy

Blind Man Seeing

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In The Phenomenology of Perception, Maurice Merleau-Ponty argues that the world is both preconstituted and made. Here, Merleau-Ponty's interrogation of the experience of blindness followed by sight becomes significant both for his theory and the chapter's theme, the hyperreal. The blind person is constantly challenged to imagine what sight must be like, to attach significations to descriptions of shape and color as they must appear to the sighted. These indications are, however, intellectual constructs, so that if sight is later acquired the seen world differs radically from the one anticipated. However, intelligence cannot achieve the synthesis of touch, the blind person's way of encountering the world, with sight, a synthesis that is only possible in the realm of the sensory itself. The removal of cataracts from the eyes of those blind from birth may unlock the experience of sight but not that of space, which already inheres in tactility, Merleau-Ponty contends. If the patient denies the spatiality of the tactile experience, that is only because it appears impoverished when compared with that of visual space.

Keywords: Maurice Merleau-Ponty; blindness; hyperreal; color; intelligence; synthesis; sight; visual space; tactile experience

Chapter.  5342 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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