Do blind people see darkness?

My brother asked me this question earlier today and well, I’m stumped… so I figured I would pass it on to you guys. Aren’t you just so lucky? :smiley:

Okay. If a person is born blind, do they “see” darkness? Or if a person gets into an accident and is rendered blind, do they see darkness?

I can’t figure it out since if you’re blind you don’t see anything… but then if you don’t see anything it kind of insinuates that you would see nothing but dark. But then if you’re born blind you don’t know what dark is. Ergh. I confused me again.

I believe those born blind, don’t see anything. They have a void. How would you preceive a void? --that’s a question! I would lean on black.

For us who see, when we are in a pitch black room, and have our eyes shielded from stimuli, we would still have the ability to see something because our cones and rods would eventually ‘‘fire’’ and our brain would interpret it somehow. --possibly with color.

Ever rubbed your eyes hard enough to see a private fireworks show? This is your cones and rods firing.

From Jim Knipfel’s memoir, Slackjaw:

“It’s a dirty little secret most members of the blind community don’t want the sighted to know about. Only a very small percentage of the people we call ‘blind’ are completely blind; that is, very few live in complete darkness. Those who do are blind mostly as a rsult of accidents… or birth defects. The rest, myself included, can still discern shadows and movement, light and dark, occasionally even color if it’s bright enough, though granted, we can’t see these things very well.”

Famous story about SF author Isaac Asimov: he was sitting in editor John Campbell’s office, and they were having one of their weird discussions.

Campbell: If you close your eyes, what do you see?

Asimov: Nothing.

Campbell: What? Don’t you see darkness and occasional flashes of light?

Asimov: Well, that’s nothing.

Campbell: Really? Then what do you see with your ear?

I suspect the truly blind – those born that way, or who have lost all sight – see what I see with my ear.

For those who are totally blind, CalMeacham nailed it. I have a dear friend who is completely blind since birth. One time, on this very board, I read a remark that went something like this: a blind person, when asked just what he sees, responded “What do you see with your big toe?” For me, this really made the whole concept of total blindness easier to grasp; I checked it with my friend, who said, “yup, that’s pretty much it”. IOW, my friends’ eyes are as useful to him for seeing stuff as his big toe is. He has no sense of brightness, color, shape, or anything.

no blackness/darkness either, right? In other words, if I could remove the lights and fireworks of our cones, that blackness in between would no be what they see, but truly nothing?

Man, i’m slow today. :o

That has, since childhood, been my standard remark to questions like the OP.

<slight hijack> On the other hand, what do you see through a pair of binoculars? That is something I have always wanted to know. </hijack>

Just to clarify: Floater, you’re asking sighted people what they see through binoculars?

On the case of accidental blindness, not from-birth blindness:

My Dad lost one eye some time in his late 50’s. Prior to that he’d had normal vision in all respects. His perception from that eye was blackness, pure and simple, as if he was total darkness.

I once took a tour of a coal mine. While deep underground they switched off the lights in the chamber we were in. Blackness like that is something I’ve never experienced. After two minutes of dark adaptation there was still no sense of my hand in front of my face. I’m sure 20 minutes would have produced the same result. Even starlight on the open ocean is lots brighter than that.