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Blind people

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JJJJ
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This may be a bit difficult to answer, but as i have had trouble sleeping at night, i just wonder about all kinds of pointless stuff and wanted to ask.

Is it possible to explain what colors look like to a person that has always been blind? I understand that a blind person can understand why certain things look different to people with eyesight, but can you ever get them to understand what they "look like"? I get it that a blind person may be able to create a somewhat accurate depiction of what a shape like a cube may look like, because he can use his other senses(touch) to guide him.

Also, when a seeing person loses his eyesight completely(goes blind), is it just black that "he sees"? I understand that they can still create "visions" like seeing people can when they dream, but is it just blackness that they see when they go blind. This is obviously something that is easy to answer, as all you need is to find a person that has "gone blind", and ask him/her.

I guess the first question is really the one i want to know, as the second one is a bit obvious......

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One possibility is that the world "looks" to them like directly behind you looks to you (i.e., outside of your peripheral vision). YOu don't "see" black behind you; you don't see anything at all. Another way of looking at it is does the inside of a glove look black to your hand? You don't perceive anything at all there, much less a sense of "blackness"

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Is it possible to explain what colors look like to a person that has always been blind?

Nope. The concepts "Red" and "Blue" are direct percepts. Without having EVER perceived those colors, there's no way to understand it. Can you describe the smell of fresh cookies to someone who doesn't have a sense of smell or taste?

Also, when a seeing person loses his eyesight completely(goes blind), is it just black that "he sees"?

That, I have no idea.

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One possibility is that the world "looks" to them like directly behind you looks to you (i.e., outside of your peripheral vision). YOu don't "see" black behind you; you don't see anything at all.

Thats actually really creepy when you try and somehow "see what you see" in places where you cant see(like whats behind you). My head literally starts to hurt when i do that.

That, I have no idea.

I absolutely have to know now that i started thinking about what "i see" when i "look at" whats behind me. Why would you actually see black, now that i come to think about it? But this should be fairly easy to answer, all you have to do is ask(or just poke at your own eyes until you go blind, as any rational objectivist would do :D )

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Is it possible to explain what colors look like to a person that has always been blind?
No, because to them it doesn't "look like" anything (orange kind of "looks like" red, only lighter and more yellowish, which works if you know what red "looks like"). With direct cortical stimulation you might be able to give them an experiential basis, or you might cook up an acoustic translation so that they could hear purple. I've heard that the latter is an actual gadget though maybe specially engineered.
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Perhaps Helen Keller's book, The Story of My Life, would be of interest to you? I haven't read it, but from what I remember of The Miracle Worker, Anne Sullivan taught her all about her surroundings, including color. I am not sure, it's been a really long time since I saw it, but it may be a good resource for you.

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Regarding your second question, the section of the brain normally used for image interpretation gets rewired for other uses in blind people, usually sound interpretation as I recall - here's the result of a quick google. The general concept or brain rewiring is neuroplasticity. Of course, just because the visual cortex's systems get shanghaied into alternative uses this doesn't mean there's anything the blind actually 'see'. Why not go ask some real neurologists?

JJM

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