Download Vision's invisibles : philosophical explorations by Fóti, Véronique Marion PDF

By Fóti, Véronique Marion

Examines the development of imaginative and prescient within the works of Heraclitus, Plato, Descartes, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Foucault, Nancy, and Derrida.

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Blindness, in contrast, is not explictly mentioned until Phaedrus 243a-b, where Socrates notes that the blindness that afflicted Homer and, temporarily, Stesichorus was punishment for their slander of Helen, the bearer of godlike beauty. This entire discussion recalls Gorgias’s Encomium of Helen which not only likens the persuasive power of words to witchcraft and pharmaka but also stresses the power of sight over the soul. 9 A blinding of clear-sighted judgment is already, in fact, the agenda of the first of the three speeches contained within the dialogue, the speech attributed to Lysias (230e-234d).

Deprived of the familiar structures of visual meaning, he longs only to slip back into his fetters and take up his accustomed place in the half-light. 2 There he simply abandons him, to cope alone with disorientation, blindness, and searing pain. The liberator’s compassioante zeal does not, it seems, go beyond this traumatic exposure of an individual (picked quite at random from the deluded crowd) to the sudden light of truth. The freed captive achieves a gradual empowerment of his sight by working methodically first with nocturnal darkness and then with the gentler radiance of moon and stars, and with shadows and reflections seen in daylight, until he can at last train his eyes not merely on the daylight panorama but on the sun itself as the ultimate source of both light and visibility (see Rep.

26 In this perceptive reading, nonetheless, the fragment’s preoccupation with the extinguishing of vision is not attended to. Engulfed by night, a human being must, as though struck blind, gropingly orient herself by touch, letting touch take the place of vision, which depends on light. Although there is no independent evidence that Heraclitus either did or did not hold a version of the “fiery eye” theory of vision (first formulated in antiquity), according to which the eye itself emits fiery rays rather than merely responding to light,27 such a theory could help clarify the sense in which sight can be said to be quenched or extinguished at night, as well as the resonance of “kindles” in the first haptetai.

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