This is more of a scientific question perhaps -- not sure -- but how is it possible that we can close our eyes and still see light i.e. how is it possible we close our eyes and think of images or memories in which the sun is shining and objects can be seen as if the real sun were shining? To see a postcard or a picture with our eyes open requires an outside light source, the sun or a lamp. But then I can close my eyes and see the same postcard and picture without any outside light source. How is that possible? Erik

Great question -- and in fact you have your finger on a version of what is ultimately perhaps the strongest argument for a mind-body dualism -- ie the view that mind and body/matter are completely distinct sorts of things. One way to put it is this way: with eyes closed I am seeing (say) a shining sun; but it isn't the real physical shining sun I am seeing (b/c my eyes are closed); therefore I am seeing some non-physical thing, a mental thing, a mental image or representation OF the physical shining sun. Therefore there exist mental things which are distinct from all physical things .... So the phenomenon you invoke is at least strongly suggestive that there are two kinds of seeing, or two kinds fo things seen: mental and physical .... Now, having said that, there are various ways phlosophers have resisted these kinds of arguments -- you might want to look up a philosohper named JJC Smart, and his work on the "identity theory" (denying dualism) to see how he resists these arguments .... Also one other point to make: the way you frame the question is that "I close my eyes and see the SAME postcard and picture ..." You might want to think about what you mean by "same" here -- the argument I just presented suggests that what we see with eyes closed is not literally the SAME things we see with eyes open (the former are mental in nature the latter are physical) -- so do you think these are literally the 'same', or merely (say) 'similar' or 'resembling'?


Andrew Pessin

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