In 1688 the Irish scientist and politician William Molyneux sent a letter to the philosopher John Locke. In it, he asked him a question: could someone who was born blind, and able to distinguish a globe and a cube by touch, be able to immediately distinguish and name these shapes by sight if given the ability to see? -/- The philosophical puzzle offered in Molyneux’s letter fascinated not only Locke, but major thinkers such as Leibniz, Berkeley, Diderot, Reid, and numerous (...) others including psychologists and cognitive scientists today. Does such a question represent a philosophical puzzle or a problem that can be solved by experimental tests? Can vision be fully restored after blindness? What is the relation between vision and touch? Are the senses linked through learning or bound at birth? -/- Molyneux’s Question and the History of Philosophy is a major collection of essays that explore the long-standing issues Molyneux’s problem presents to philosophy of mind, perception and the senses. In addition, the volume considers the question from an interdisciplinary angle, examines the pre-history of the question, and aspects of it that have been ignored, such as perspectives from religion and disability. -/- As such, Molyneux’s Question and the History of Philosophy presents a set of philosophically rich, empirically informed, and scientifically rigorous original investigations into this famous puzzle. It will be of great interest to students and researchers in philosophy, psychology, and the cognitive sciences including neuroscience, neurobiology and ophthalmology, as well as those studying the mind, perception and the senses. (shrink)
Molyneux’s question, whether the newly sighted might immediately recognize tactilely familiar shapes by sight alone, has produced an array of answers over three centuries of debate and discussion. I propose the first pluralist response: many different answers, both yes and no, are individually sufficient as an answer to the question as a whole. I argue that this is possible if we take the question to be cluster concept of sub-problems. This response opposes traditional answers that isolate specific perceptual features as (...) uniquely applicable to Molyneux’s question and grant viability to only one reply. Answering Molyneux’s question as a cluster concept may also serve as a methodology for resolving other philosophical problems. (shrink)
The study of perception and the role of the senses have recently risen to prominence in philosophy and are now a major area of study and research. However, the philosophical history of the senses remains a relatively neglected subject. Moving beyond the current philosophical canon, this outstanding collection offers a wide-ranging and diverse philosophical exploration of the senses, from the classical period to the present day. Written by a team of international contributors, it is divided into six parts: -/- Perception (...) from Non-Western Perspectives Perception in the Ancient Period Perception in the Medieval Latin/Arabic Period Perception in the Early Modern Period Perception in the Post-Kantian Period Perception in the Contemporary Period. The volume challenges conventional philosophical study of perception by covering a wide range of significant, as well as hitherto overlooked, topics, such as perceptual judgment, temporal and motion illusions, mirror and picture perception, animal senses and cross-modal integration. By investigating the history of the senses in thinkers such as Plotinus, Auriol, Berkeley and Cavendish; and considering the history of the senses in diverse philosophical traditions, including Chinese, Indian, Byzantine, Greek and Latin it brings a fresh approach to studying the history of philosophy itself. -/- Including a thorough introduction as well as introductions to each section by the editors, The Senses and the History of Philosophy is essential reading for students and researchers in the history of philosophy, perception, philosophy of mind, philosophical psychology, aesthetics and eastern and non-western philosophy. It will also be extremely useful for those in related disciplines such as psychology, religion, sociology, intellectual history and cognitive sciences. (shrink)
How does the mind attribute external causes to internal sensory experiences? Adam Smith addresses this question in his little known essay ‘Of the External Senses.’ I closely examine Smith's various formulations of this problem and then argue for an interpretation of his solution: that inborn perceptual mechanisms automatically generate external attributions of internal experiences. I conclude by speculating that these mechanisms are best understood to operate by simulating tactile environments.
Molyneux’s Question, also known as Molyneux’s Problem, soon became a fulcrum for early research in the epistemology of concepts, challenging common intuitions about how our concepts originate, whether sensory features differentiate concepts, and how concepts are utilized in novel contexts. It was reprinted and discussed by a wide range of early modern philosophers, including Gottfried Leibniz, George Berkeley, and Adam Smith, and was perhaps the most important problem in the burgeoning discipline of psychology of the 18th Century. The question has (...) since undergone various stages of development, both as a mental exercise and as an experimental paradigm, garnering a variety of both affirmative and negative replies in the next three centuries of debate and deliberation. (shrink)
Might the once-blind recognize shapes familiar to the touch by sight alone? “Not”, replied both Locke and the question’s designer, William Molyneux. Leibniz, by contrast, replied, “yes” to Molyneux’s Question. However, Leibniz’s reason for his affirmative answer has yet to be discussed directly with any depth, a lacuna this paper seeks to address. The main contention of this paper is that Leibniz cannot think that sensory representations based on the sight and touch of shape sufficient for this task, as several (...) commentators have suggested. Rather, I argue that Leibniz’s answer is based on the ability of the once-blind to unconsciously employ “common sensibles,” representations of shape that are independent of sight and touch. (shrink)
Research on skateboarding has sought to define it, place it in a spatial-temporal schema, and analyse its social and cultural dimensions. We expand upon skateboarding’s relationship with time using the Marxist theorist Henri Lefebvre’s temporal science of Rhythmanalysis. With the disruption of urban social production of capital by the Covid-19 pandemic, we find skateboarding renewed in urban disjuncture from Capitalism and argue that this separation is central to its performance and culture. We propose that skateboarding is arrhythmic: discordant, out of (...) step, and disruptive of the more predictable rhythms of everyday production of capital. Drawing on Lefebvre’s concept of ‘arrhythmia’, we attempt re-conceive a beat and tempo of skateboarding: offbeat, juxtaposed, tilted, and contradictory. We emphasise that this discordance is not a malady but part of a broader beat ontology in skateboarding. This very discordance also raises questions about the continued incorporation of skateboarding into competitive sports, wellbeing, and prosocial paradigms and reminds theorists that skateboarding continues to be unkempt, subversive and tacitly political. (shrink)
This book examines influential conceptions of sport and then analyses the interplay of challenging borderline cases with the standard definitions of sport. It is meant to inspire more thought and debate on just what sport is, how it relates to other activities and human endeavors, and what we can learn about ourselves by studying sport.