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Can Toyota and Reason Overcome Blindness? – Article by Edward Hudgins

Can Toyota and Reason Overcome Blindness? – Article by Edward Hudgins

The New Renaissance HatEdward Hudgins

If you’ve shut your eyes at the ugly spectacle of political and cultural decline around you, look in the right direction and you’ll see what’s best in the world, including innovations from Toyota that are helping the visually impaired.

Technology helping the blind see

The research department at the world-class auto maker is doing more than designing Priuses. It recently unveiled Project BLAID, a shoulder and neck-worn device that can help guide visually-impaired folks through building interiors with cameras, speakers and other technology. This is just one nice bit of good news in a world where the media is ruled by “if it bleeds, it leads.” This is one of many innovations in a world that is being transformed by exponential technologies.

For example, in January an Australian research team at Monash University announced development of another system to help the blind that it will test soon. It bypasses the eyeball, which is often damaged beyond use in blind people, and uses a pair of glasses that feeds visual data directly into the brain. At this time that technology at best would give blind people very limited vision, only enough to let them maneuver around like the Toyota technology does. But it’s a start.

Technology helping the deaf hear

Let’s remember that in recent decades, some 190,000 deaf individuals have received cochlear implants. These devises do not simply amplify sound as do hearing aids. They translate sound into electrical impulses that directly stimulate the cochlear nerve in the ear so the individuals can hear. It is estimated that around 150,000 children are born each year with hearing impairment so serious that they could benefit from such implants.

So as the costs of these implants decrease, we will see the gradual elimination of the ago-old scourge of deafness just as the blight of blindness will gradually disappear from list of human woes as companies like Toyota continue their work.

Reason as the cure

The proximate cause of all this good news is the exponential increase in information processing capability, usually called “Moore’s law.” Since the mid-1960s the capacities of semiconductors have doubled every eighteen months. A capacity of 1,000 at that time is 2,000,000,000 today. That means not only the advent of laptops, tablets, and smart phones but also medical devises that would have been thought science fiction decades ago.

But what is really behind these achievements is a moral code that treats rationality as our highest virtue and human achievement as our highest purpose. It is a commitment by individuals to objective reasoning and to understanding the world so that they can control it to enhance human life and flourishing. And it is a joy that individuals take in the process of understanding and creating.

Ayn Rand called machines “the frozen form of living intelligence.” Do you want to live in a world from which blindness and other illnesses or physical defeats are banished? Then fight for this morality of reason.

Dr. Edward Hudgins directs advocacy and is a senior scholar for The Atlas Society, the center for Objectivism in Washington, D.C.

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The Destructive Nature of the Mystical Rebellion Against Reason in Lisel Mueller’s “Monet Refuses the Operation” (2003) – Essay by G. Stolyarov II

The Destructive Nature of the Mystical Rebellion Against Reason in Lisel Mueller’s “Monet Refuses the Operation” (2003) – Essay by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
July 29, 2014
Note from the Author: This essay was originally written in 2003 and published on Associated Content (subsequently, Yahoo! Voices) in 2007.  The essay received over 1,200 views on Associated Content / Yahoo! Voices, and I seek to preserve it as a valuable resource for readers, subsequent to the imminent closure of Yahoo! Voices. Therefore, this essay is being published directly on The Rational Argumentator for the first time.  
~ G. Stolyarov II, July 29, 2014


Monet Refuses the Operation” by Lisel Mueller, though unintentionally, reveals an intriguing insight; that mystical rebellion against reason is primarily fueled by physical shortcomings and defects.

In the poem, Claude Monet, the aging artist heading inexorably toward blindness, rejects a doctor’s offer to restore his vision. He extols his present incapacitated state by discarding as purportedly insignificant all that had been previously accessible to him. He rejects artistic principles necessary for conveying a realistic three-dimensional perspective, such as the horizon line and even the entire objective of creating a three-dimensional portrayal.

Moreover, the fictional Monet seeks to abolish “fixed notions of top and bottom” and the essential characteristics of Euclidean regularity, identity, and consistency which ubiquitously dominate actuality. Instead, he, with his link to reality (his sight) severed, reverts to the dazed, bumbling, confused notion of Heraclitean flux, which in itself incapacitates man’s reason, understanding, and cognitive capacity. The absolutes, which he has departed from, he disdainfully dubs “youthful errors.”

But what, in fact, is senescence but a departure from an optimal link with reality? With senescence, the body decays, as do the physical aspects of consciousness. The senses are no longer as keen, nor one’s insights as adaptable to the attainment of fresh, innovative, yet still firmly grounded and objective discoveries, as they had once been. This deterioration in Monet is amplified by the decay of his sight and causes him to lapse from clarity to delusion. The old, blind, sick Monet is fomenting a reaction against youth, health, certainty, and forthrightness.

Descriptions of the habits of the blind in Annie Dillard’s “Seeing” also suggest a direct link between physical incapacity and mystical tendencies. For example, many of the blind, having no knowledge of the appearance of their gestures and exterior to the receptacles of sight, do not groom themselves properly and mar their undertakings by aesthetically awkward movements. Despite their knowledge that a world of the seen and objectively perceptible exists, many nevertheless continue to act in utter disregard of it.

This belief in the irrelevancy of reason is an instance of mysticism. The disease, is, however curable along with its physical symptoms. Once cataract operations are performed on these unfortunate individuals, they reform their habits and begin to distinguish objects instead of viewing random and indeterminate color patches. They become conscientious about their appearances and gradually renounce their former abhorrence of the visual world. A girl who spends her first two weeks of sight in denial, a spillover remnant of mysticism, later on admits the beauty of her new endowment and thereby gains access to a tool of empowerment.

While blindness is a physical defect, mysticism is a defect of the mind. It is not curable automatically, as the fictional Monet’s actively resisting example proves. However, a removal of the physical obstacles between one and the absolute enable an exposure to the world of truth, to which delusional untruth can then be compared. The inclinations of a man’s reason and common sense are evident, and it takes extensive self-deceit to subvert them. Thus, he whose physical state is sound is dependent solely on his volition to cure his mysticism. Will he choose darkness and flux, like the fictional Monet, or light, color, and proportion, like the newly-sighted girl?