On Vision, February 25 2009

Vision: Life in the Light
Michael Richards (Ophthalmology)

Light energy, which surrounds and sustains life on our planet, forms the basis for the sensory modality of vision. We will touch on the nature of visible light, then discuss the structure and function of the human visual system. We will then explore the implications of binocularity, including 3-dimensional depth perception. Finally, exploration of some recent experiments may provide a striking link between structure and visual perception.

Autism and Blindness
Janette Dinishak (Philosophy)

People with the “autism” label experience social, linguistic, and perceptual difficulties and differences of varying qualities and degrees. These difficulties and differences are sometimes characterized as forms of “blindness.” This presentation explores three questions.? In what contexts is “blindness” used to describe autism? Is this talk of blindness metaphorical or literal? Is it apt to describe the difficulties and?differences associated with autism spectrum disorder as forms of blindness?

Between the Body and God: Spiritual Vision in Augustine’s Literal Interpretation of Genesis
Michael Barbezat (Medieval Studies)

Medieval visions of the Other World (Purgatory, Heaven, or Hell) belong to a special category of experience quite different from regular human sight. How can the human mind gain knowledge of incorporeal extramental realities? Why are these realities revealed through images similar to those gained through bodily eyes? Are these things more real than an image in a dream or a hallucination? This paper explores these questions through an examination of Augustine of Hippo’s commentary on Paul’s vision in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4, and how the issues Augustine raises, and often does not solve, go on to influence visionary experience throughout the rest of the Middle Ages.

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