The Epistemic Lives of Pictures and Visualisations
Edited By Nora S. Vaage, Rasmus T. Slaattelid, Trine Krigsvoll Haagensen and Samantha L. Smith
On Hands That Make Us See: "Tobias Healing His Father’s Blindness" (Samantha L. Smith)
Samantha L. Smith On Hands That Make Us See: Tobias Healing His Father’s Blindness On Seeing, Touching and Knowing When we talk about images we refer primarily to the sense of sight; an image is a visual object, it is the outward appearance of something. If we follow this no- tion we could argue that the idea of an image producing knowledge could in fact be reduced to the view that what is seen is known. Seeing has long been associ- ated with knowing, and common phrases we use every day underline this idea: we often say “I see” for “I understand” and “to look into” to mean that we want to comprehend an idea or the way something works. This traditional metaphor, adopted by figures such as Plato and Euclid, stems from the ancient understanding of seeing as a form of touch, namely the extramission theory, a theory of vision which advocated that the eye (or mind) reaches out with rays of light to touch its subject and in turn makes an impression on the viewer.1 In this process, seeing is never a disinterested glance; the viewer is connected to its object in a relationship in which subject and object affect and shape each other. The theory of extramis- sion was held by some up until the seventeenth century and is still embedded in the language we use today. 2 The use of the phrases “to grasp an idea” or “to attain knowledge” stemming from the Latin tangere meaning...
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