chapter  2
54 Pages

Two Kinds of Perceptual Organization Near the Beginning of Life

ByMarc H. Bornstein

In the second edition of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, John Locke (1690/1961, p. 114) recounts an epistolary exchange with his friend, that “very ingenious and studious promoter of real knowledge” William Molyneux. Molyneux had been provoked by Locke’s first edition to ponder the role of experience in thought, and he wrote to Locke asking whether a man born blind, but experienced in touch, and suddenly given the gift of sight as an adult, could distinguish a cube from a globe by vision alone. Molyneux himself reasoned in the negative; being a fellow empiricist, Locke concurred that “the blind man, at first sight, would not be able with certainty to say which was the globe, which the cube, whilst he only saw them, though he could unerringly name them by his touch.”