I’m trying to understand Aristotle’s views on blindness, as given in these passages:
"just as the blind remember better, being released from having their faculty of memory engaged with objects of sight." -Eudemian Ethics VIII 2, 1248 b 1-3
"They [the senses] bring in tidings of many distinctive qualities of things, from which the knowledge of truth, speculative and practical, is generated in the soul.
Of the two last mentioned, seeing, regarded as a supply for the primary wants of life, and in its direct effects, is the superior sense; but for developing intelligence, and in its indirect consequences, hearing takes the precedence. The faculty of seeing, thanks to the fact that all bodies are coloured, brings tidings of multitudes of distinctive qualities of all sorts; whence it is through this sense especially that we perceive the common sensibles, viz. figure, magnitude, motion, number: while hearing announces only the distinctive qualities of sound, and, to some few animals, those also of voice. indirectly, however, it is hearing that contributes most to the growth of intelligence. For rational discourse is a cause of instruction in virtue of its being audible, which it is, not directly, but indirectly; since it is composed of words, and each word is a thought-symbol. Accordingly, of persons destitute from birth of either sense, the blind are more intelligent than the deaf and dumb." -De Sensu, book 1
Why does Aristotle think this? And within that, I would like to know
- How does blindness relate to knowledge and memory in Aristotle's thought?
- Is this linked with the importance of hearing for learning and knowledge?
- Do his views relate to or show influence of wider Greek culture, like the self-blinding of Sophocles' Oedipus, or Homer’s blindness?
- Are there any scholia or medieval commentaries on these views about blindness?