But why does a sighted person recognise blindness? Do they recognise it because they have an understanding of what it is to be blind? Would they be capable of explaining blindness to a sighted person?
One learns to recognize blind people through seeing blind people, by EXPERIENCE. Blind people do not move like sighted people. They are not as relaxed; one would guess that that is because they do not have the confidence about not bumping into things. They do not move their heads in the same way, because they are not using their eyes to look around; rather they are using their ears. If you switch off the lights the blind person carries on as before while the sighted person starts to bump into things. There are all sorts of ‘give-away’ signs that tell you whether a person is using their eyes or not, or whether they have the full use of all their senses or not.
That is not to say that I would claim to understand fully what it is to be blind --- and it is not just a matter of putting on a blind-fold for a while. That will not do it at all. The film …………………. Is interesting. It is a true story about someone who had been bind all his life but was finally able to have his sight restored by a medical operation. He then nearly cracked up because he could not handle the sensory overload. His mind just was not used to having so much sensory information to handle.
I think that is the sort of thing you just would not think of --- till it happens. Also, it is hard to imagine what it must be like to have, and what the consequences would be of having, a mind that is so impoverished --- though, in this regard, there would be a difference between those who went blind later in life and those who were born blind.
So, I DO claim to be able to tell whether a person is blind or not, but I DO NOT claim to understand fully what it is to be blind.
And the same sort of thing applies to understanding: I claim to be able to tell whether a person has understanding or not because of the way their mind ‘moves’. Those who do not have understanding just do not have the relaxed, confident movement of those who do have understanding. And, like a blind person, put someone without understanding in a strange environment, intellectual or physical, say a foreign culture, and they will have a hard time, they will struggle to get their bearings and will ‘blunder’ about ‘treading on people’s toes’ and so on.
In other words, even if you are one of the sighted, it is a mistake to think that this one ability conveys any superiority of any kind, be it intellectual, moral, or spiritual, over those who are blind. Such thoughts have led to some of the worst acts of humanity in our short history
If you are sighted you have superior visual skills as compared to the blind. Also, the consequences of having sight affect the way one thinks and uses one’s mind, which implies that sighted people have mental abilities that the blind do not. Of course, the blind, as far as I am aware, have superior hearing as compared to the sighted. Also, I would suppose that their blindness forces their minds to develop ways of thinking that make up for their lack of sight, and that those are mental abilities that the sighted would not develop.
I feel one can get too caught up in trying to avoid using words like ‘superior’ so that one loses sight of the fact that there are differences, and that these differences lead to superiorities on both sides.