Blindness : the history of a mental image in western thought


Blindness : the history of a mental image in western thought

Moshe Barasch

Routledge, 2001

  • : hb
  • : pbk

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Includes bibliographical references and index



This is a remarkable study of how Western culture has represented blindness, especially in that most visual of arts, painting. Moshe Barasch draws upon not only the span of art history from antiquity to the eighteenth century but also the classical and biblical traditions that underpin so much of artistic representation: Blind Homer, the healing of the blind, blind musicians, blindness as punishment, blindness as a special mark. The book discusses blindness in antiquity, in the Early Christian world, in the Middle Ages, and in the Renaissance, with a final consideration of Diderot.


  • Introduction 1. Antiquity
  • Attitudes of the Bible
  • Classical Antiquity
  • Causes of blindness
  • Blindness and guilt
  • The blind seer
  • Ate 2. The Blind in the Early Christian World
  • The healing of the blind
  • Blindness and revelation
  • the story of Paul
  • A concluding observation 3. The Middle Ages
  • The Antichrist
  • Allegorical blindness
  • The blind beggar
  • The blind and his guide 4. The Renaissance and its Sequel
  • The blind beggar
  • Metaphocial blindness
  • The revival of the blind seer
  • Early secularization of the blind
  • The blind beggar in the seventeenth century 5. The Disenchantment of Blindness: Diderot's Lettre sur les aveugles

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