The way one’s mind interprets sensation is the referred to as perception of the world around them. With advanced technology as well as improved study of the human anatomy, doctors can now restore the sight of blind person. However, there is a major problem that is more likely to be experienced. Upon restoration of the eye sight, the person who was initially blind now interprets the world around them in a way that is different from the way they interpreted the world before losing the sight.
Sensation refers to the process through which sensory receptor’s stimulation produces neural impulses which the brain interprets as sound, odor or visual image. It involves conversion of sensory stimulation into a form which the brain is able to understand. It occurs whenever a sensory receptor is activated by a stimulus. When sensation is interpreted, perception occurs. Sensation’s boundary blurs into perception’s boundary. Sensation is a passive process while perception is an active process. However, perception never produces a perfect representation of the surroundings. Even though images of objects change constantly on the eyes’ retinas, we are able to recognize familiar objects under varying conditions like location, distance and lightning. Perceptual constancy involves color constancy, size constancy and shape constancy. Color consistency enables us to color as the same under various viewing conditions. Size constancy enables us to see an object as the same size under various distances. Finally, shape constancy enables us to see objects as the same shape under various angles .
Perception refers to the process of organizing, identifying and interpreting sensory information so as to understand our surroundings. It involves nervous system signals. These signals arise from sense organs physical stimulation. For instance; vision comes about when light strikes the retina. It is possible to shape perception through memory, expectation and learning. Perception involves both ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top –down’ processes of the sensory input. The bottom-up processes are basically information of low level and are used in building up of information of higher level. Top-down processes refer to the concepts and expectations of people. They affect perception. Perception is dependent on nervous system’s complex functions. However, it seems to be effortless since processing occurs outside the conscious awareness. The brain’s perceptual systems enable an individual to see things that surround them as steady despite the fact that sensory information could be rapidly varying or incomplete .
Molyneux problem refers to a thought experiment in the philosophy’s history that concerns restoration of sight to a blind person. This problem was developed by a scientist known as William Molyneux. The problem was in form of a question sent to John Locke, “If a man who is born blind is able to feel the differences that exist among shapes like cubes and spheres, could he distinguish these things by sight lest his sight is restored?”.
The history of issues that surround Molyneux problem reveals that Molyneux could not easily answer his question. On the contrary, no problem in philosophy’s history has ever provoked as much thought as Molyneux problem. This has been considered one of the most prolific thought experiments that have ever been proposed in philosophy. The problem is still intriguing.
The idea of sensation, perception and Molyneux problem has been incorporated in the film ‘At First Sight’. This film stars Val Kilmer and Mira Sorvino. Val Kilmer as Virgil, blind massage therapist at a spa in the countryside, meets Mira Sorvino as Amy, an architect in a particular spa in Pine Crest, at his spa. After a massage, she realizes that he is blind . He takes her out on a date and reveals to her that he became blind at the age of three. She manages to convince him to undergo an eye surgery to regain his sight. Fortunately, the doctor performs the operation successfully and Virgil regains his sight. However, he becomes disoriented, confused and unable to perceive distance and light. Dr. Aaron proposes to him to see a visual therapist. The therapist known as Webster suggests to him to discover things from scratch through experience. Amy and Virgil start living in New York City. However, as Virgil often finds it very hard to read and look at Amy’s face, they begin drifting apart. This forces her to regularly explain fundamental things to him .Webster suggests that Virgil should ‘look’ instead of ‘seeing’. After some time, he experiences a long vision blackout and knows he has little time left with his sight. Unfortunately, he becomes blind again. .
I chose the film because it best describes sensation and perception. While Virgil is blind, he is unable to sense and perceive things since light cannot strike his retina. This implies that his sight organs are not stimulated. However, after regaining his sight, he can sense and perceive objects. He is recognizes familiar objects and can shape perception through memory, expectation and learning. At first, he cannot decipher the look on Amy’s face but as she explains everything to him, he is able to understand. He even remembers the last thing the he saw before he became blind when he sees something similar to it.
The most essential psychological issue addressed in the film is coping with restored sight. Before the operation, Virgil thinks Amy is disrupting his orderly life and smarts at her idea that he should undergo an eye surgery to regain his sight. His first moments after regaining sight are frightening, as he has no idea of what he is seeing. He becomes disoriented, confused since he finds it very difficult to perceive distance and light. He also finds himself in a disorienting world and tries so hard to adjust. Moreover, Amy tries to adjust to the disorienting relationship between them. Webster, the visual physiotherapist takes him to a strip club and talks to him about not losing sight of what he wants. Webster tells him that he should ‘look’ instead of ‘seeing’. This comes in handy whenever he experiences setbacks. Amy believes that she was the cause of the problems between them since she moved too fast in order to change his life .
In conclusion, technological advancement as well as improved study of the human body, enables doctors to restore the sight of a blind person, although, there is a major problem that is more likely to be faced by patient. Upon regaining the eye sight, the patient now interprets the world around them in a way that is different from the way they interpreted the world before losing the sight. Virgil regains his sight through an eye surgery. However, he experiences a problem in light and distance perception. Unfortunately, his sight does not last long. This means that there is a possibility of losing sight after regaining it. Indeed, restored sight is a fascinating concept.
At First Sight. Dir. Irwin Winkler. Perf. Val Kilmer, et al. 1999.
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McGillicuddy, Larry. "At First Sight." 4 September 2009. IMDb. 4 September 2009 <http://www.imdb.com/reviews/165/16534.html>.
Movie Clips. "At First Sight." 4 May 2013. Movie Clips. 4 May 2013 <http://movieclips.com/kEWZ-at-first-sight-movie-videos/>.
Vancheri, Barbara. "Movie Review: 'At First Sight'." 15 January 2008. Post Gazette. 15 January 2008 <http://old.post-gazette.com/magazine/19990115sight4.asp>.
Wallace, Jean G. and Richard Gregory Langton. "Recovery from Early Blindness - A Case Study." (2001): 1-44.