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Molyneux's Question

The celebrated Molyneux's question was addressed by the polymath Dublin lawyer, politician, and mathematician William Molyneux to John Locke, and is mentioned by Locke in Book II, Chapter IX of AnEssayConcerningHumanUnderstanding(1690). The question was as follows:

Suppose a man born blind, and now adult, and taught by his touch to distinguish between a cube and a sphere of the same metal…. Suppose then the cube and sphere placed on a table, and the blind man be made to see: query, whether by his sight, before he touched them he could now distinguish and tell which is the globe, which the cube … ? (Hoffman, p. 18)

In considering the question in the light of subsequent research, it is important to be clear that the question is not ...

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