William Molyneux : An American Scientist And Politician With An Interest Essay

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Locke was asked a question pertaining to senses by a man named William Molyneux. Molyneux posed the question, what happened to a man who was blind his whole life but suddenly gained sight, would that man be able to tell the difference between two objects just by looking at them, or would he have to rely on his sense of touch to make a connection? I will be discussing Locke’s response and several objections to his response to the question. Specifically, I will be arguing that Locke’s way of addressing the issue is incorrect, focusing on the response given by Berkeley, which supports actual concrete results we have found over the years. William Molyneux was an Irish scientist and politician with an interest in optics. During his first year in marriage his wife, Anne, became sick and went blind. This caused him question some of the most basic concepts in optics that have led to even current studies. William began to formulate a question about whether blind people were capable of recognizing objects without touching them if they happened to regain their sight back. “Suppose a man born blind, and now adult, and taught by his touch to distinguish between a cube and a sphere of the same metal and roughly of the same size, so as to tell when he felt each of them which is the cube and which the sphere. Suppose then the cube and sphere placed on a table, and the blind man made to see. Could he, by his sight before he touched them, tell which is the globe and which the cube?” William

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