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Seeing with the HandsBlindness, Vision and Touch After Descartes$
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Mark Paterson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474405317

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474405317.001.0001

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Voltaire, Buffon, and Blindness in France

Voltaire, Buffon, and Blindness in France

(p.85) Chapter 4 Voltaire, Buffon, and Blindness in France
Seeing with the Hands

Mark Paterson

Edinburgh University Press

After Voltaire introduced an enthusiastic French readership to Molyneux’s question and Cheselden’s case study, there followed intense interest in blindness in La Mettrie, Condillac, Diderot in his Letter on the Blind for the Use of Those Who See (1749), and Buffon in his Histoire Naturelle, Générale et Particulière (1749). To illustrate his ideas Buffon considers a hypothetical neonate who must correlate hands with eyes in order to see, the hand is “constantly measuring” so that distance and perspective can be learnt, implying that the blind still have spatial concepts.

Keywords:   Voltaire, Buffon, Cheselden, Blindness

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