Molyneux’s Question and the History of Philosophy  book cover
1st Edition

Molyneux’s Question and the History of Philosophy

ISBN 9780367030926
Published September 16, 2020 by Routledge
370 Pages 30 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

Part I: Historical Advances in Molyneux’s Question

Introduction to Part I

1. Epicureanism and Molyneux's Question

Giulia Scalas

2. Molyneux, Mysticism, Empiricism, and Independent Thinking

Lenn E. Goodman

3. A Spinozistic Answer to Molyneux's Question

Daniel Schneider

4. Amo on Molyneux's Question

Chris Meyns

5. Margaret Cavendish and Molyneux’s Question: Patterning, Perception, and Touch

Marcus P. Adams

6. Dmaris Masham and Molyneux’s Question: What Response would Masham have given?

Anna Vaughn

7. Molyneux’s Question: The Irish Debates

Manuel Fasko and Peter West

8. Molyneux’s Question at the Erasmiaans Gymnasium, Rotterdam

Marjolein Degenaar

9. Molyneux's Vision

Nicholas J. Wade

Part II: Ethical Advances in Molyneux’s Question

Introduction to Part II

10. The Cult of the Born Completely Blind Man, Revisited

Simon Hayhoe

11. The Molyneux Cult

Georgina Kleege

Part III: Empirical Advances in Molyneux’s Question

Introduction to Part III

12. Molyneux's Question and the Semantics of Seeing

Berit Brogaard, Bartek Chomanski and Dimitria Electra Gatzia

13. Molyneux's Question and Neuroscience of Vision

Valeria Occelli

14. No Yes Answers to Molyneux

Shaun Gallagher

Part IV: Philosophical Advances in Molyneux’s Question

Introduction to Part IV

15. Molyneux’s question and interpersonal variations in multimodal mental imagery among blind subjects

Bence Nanay

16. Molyneux’s Question and Perceptual Judgments

Josefa Toribio

17. Action at First Sight

Gabriele Ferretti

18. Molyneux’s Question and Somatosensory Spaces

Tony Cheng

19. Molyneux’s Question on LSD

Brian Glenney

20. What Was Molyneux’s Question a Question About?

Jonathan Cohen and Mohan Matthen

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Gabriele Ferretti is a NOMIS Fellow at the Eikones – Center for the Theory and History of the Image at the University of Basel, Switzerland.

Brian Glenney is Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Program at Norwich University, USA. He is co-editor of The Senses and the History of Philosophy (Routledge, 2019).