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Diderot, Denis (1713-1784).

Lettre sur les aveugles : a l'usage de ceux qui voyent.

A Londres:[s.n.], 1749.

"Diderot was a man of letters and philosophy who from 1745 to 1772 served as chief editor of the Encylopedie, one of the principal works of the Age of Enlightenment. An Essay on Blindness is remarkable for its proposal to teach the blind to read through the sense of touch, and for the presentation of the first step in his evolutionary theory of survival by superior adaptation. This daring exposition of the doctrine of materialist atheism, with its emphasis on human dependence on sense impression, led to Diderot's arrest and incarceration in the prison of Vincennes for three months" (Britannica).

"In his first truly original work, An essay on Blindness, a prominent contemporary figure is adopted to be spokesman for views that Diderot was just then trying out. Through the person of Nicholas Saunderson, a blind mathematician who was Lucasian professor in Cambridge, Diderot exhibited how unconvincing it is in the eyes of the sightless to base the existence of God upon the evidence for design in nature. In handling this favorite psychological puzzle of eighteenth-century sensationalism Diderot found himself questioning the artificiality with which the associationists, and notably his friend Condillac, abstracted the operation of the five senses one from another in some mechanical and imaginary sensorium" (Dictionary of Scientific Biography).

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