An essay on blindness diderot

My mistake was in allowing the odors to reach royal nostrils.

Blindness and the age of enlightenment: Diderot's letter on the blind.

Henceforth, I peddle my stinking truths underground or, if they are compliant truths, I shall dress them in suitable costumes, sufficiently powdered and pinned to ingratiate themselves to this foolish and frivolous city of mine. Ah Paris!


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How I adore your decadence. Let me die reaching for the cherry compote! I digress. Why I will denounce, without regret, my little Letter on the Blind. Last night I woke out of sleep into the body and mind of Saunderson.

Yes, my blind mathematician whose deathbed non-confession has stirred so much ire. I awoke into his blindness and found myself confronting not only the fumbling clergyman Holmes, but also the governor who has seen fit to thrust me into this cell.

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Understand me. I felt sharp as a whip, as brilliant of intellect as Saunderson must have been to inherit the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics a seat held by no less a luminary than Newton but there were no longer any images, no colors, no pictures of beauty or ugliness to be found in this Diderot-head of mine.

All memory of seeing had evaporated, and it was this blankness that frightened me almost to distraction.

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The deprivation terrified me even as I enacted the very dialogue that has landed me in prison. I have been condemned to spend my life in darkness, and you cite wonders quite out of my understanding, and which are only evidence for you and for those who see as you do. If you want to make me believe in God you must make me touch Him.

But even if the animal mechanism were as perfect as you maintain, what relation is there between such mechanism and a supremely intelligent Being? If it fills you with astonishment, that is perhaps because you are accustomed to treat as miraculous everything which strikes you as beyond your own powers. I have been myself so often an object of admiration to you, that I have not a very high idea of your conception of the miraculous.

I take your word for the present state of the universe, and in return keep the liberty of thinking as I please on its primitive state, with relation to which you are as blind as myself. In the first instances of the formation of animals some were perhaps headless and others footless, some stomachless and others lacked intestines.

Only those not defective in any important particular survived and perpetuated themselves.

Suddenly my fanciful dialogue shifted to nightmare and, instead of the tears gushing from the eyes of the sympathetic clergyman, the menacing voice of the governor materialized from the void. They will nicely condemn you in the court of God and man. We will take your deformity into consideration by removing the mask that we offer unblind if such things exist heathens. It will do the people good to see your vacant eyes roll with your head. Such a treat to see a monster as even you have named yourself demolished. With the demonic intoning came the arms out of hell to lift me onto the block where my neck was stretched.

The whoosh of the upswept blade penetrated my too-sensitive ears and the steel crashed down. Alternate Sources.

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Blindness and Enlightenment: An Essay : Kate E. Tunstall :

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About Blindness and Enlightenment: An Essay

Opening up the world: early childhood orientation and mobility intervention as perceived by young children who are blind, their parents, and specialist teachers Bronwen Susan Scott. References Publications referenced by this paper. Blindness and Enlightenment: An Essay.


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  • KE Tunstall. Letter on the blind for the use of those who can see. Britannia in Newgate - Street , Translation by Tunstall KE.