The Cult of the Born Completely Blind Man, Revisited

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section


This chapter looks at the influence of Rene Descartes, Robert Boyle and John Locke on what I call, the Cult of the Born Completely Blind Man during the early years of the enlightenment (Hayhoe, 2016a). The study is designed to help the reader understand two important issues in philosophy: first, why modern Western academic literature still too often problematizes blindness - i.e. the loss or lack of experience of vision - as complete lack of vision, or a lack of understanding of visual concepts; second, our understanding of nature through scientific methodology and the mind-body problem.
This study’s discussion is necessary for those who are visually impaired, as it contributes to the cultural history of theories on blindness that affected institutional and cultural attitudes and social support. It is also necessary for those studying philosophy and scientific methodology, to inform the nature of these methods, to show how our biases can affect our writing and to show how this writing can negatively influence the lives of others.
Although this study is far from the complete story of understanding visual impairment, it is a foundation on which future research on blindness, visual impairment, disability and other forms of impairment can be developed. It also provides a critical model to frame future analysis of philosophical and scientific methods.
The study is laid out in the four sections following this introduction: the first section examines the context of this cult, the paradigms that arose from it and its earliest influences; the second section examines the influence of Descartes and Boyle on the earliest years of the cult during the enlightenment; the third section examines the influence of Locke on the mind-body problem and his analysis of a male with a visual impairment in the cult; the fourth section formulates a discussion on the cult. Finally, I conclude this study.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMolyneux’s Question and the History of Philosophy
EditorsBrian Glenney, Gabriele Ferretti
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780429671944
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sept 2020


  • Molyneux
  • Locke
  • blindness
  • blind
  • visual impairment
  • science
  • scientific methodology
  • mind-body problem
  • Descartes
  • Boyle
  • Colour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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