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The Contender
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Can we see light?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/5/2017 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,071 times Debate No: 104301
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (13)
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Let's try this again.
Apply in comments.

See, visually perceive.
Light, electromagnetic radiation.


I accept the debate, and will argue for the motion that: "THB: we can see light".
Debate Round No. 1


Most people mistakenly believe we can see light. This is mainly due to the fact that they do not understand the physiology of vision. Without going into too much detail, I will attempt to explain the process so they cam "see the light". (Pun intended)

Our eyes detect light, that's a fact. But did you know that completely blind or nlp (no light perception) people also detect light with their eyes? Their pupils dilate and constrict, brain functions are altered and circadian rhythms are maintained. But they see nothing. View link 1.

The dictionary defines see as perceive with the eye. This is suitable for laymen, but neurologists have long been aware that vision occurs within the optic region of the brain. When we dream, we see, without any involvement of our eyes or light. We see with our brains, not with our eyes. What we see are objects.

Our eyes detecting light is just phase 1 of what ultimately results in visual perception. A phase which I've already pointed out, can be completely left out on occasion. When our eyes detect light, they send electrochemical impulses to different parts of the brain. One of these parts is the optic centre and here the brain creates a visual representation of what's in front of us. This simulation, for lack of a better word, is the reality we perceive. View link 2.

Within this simulation we perceive objects, colors and the sensation of light and dark. But this light is not the light (electromagnetic radiation) which science talks about. Brightness is not a property of light itself, but rather a virtual construct of our minds.

I rest here.


Con produces a daft, semantic argument, analogous to saying something like:

"I didn't stab him- my knife did".

Sure, the light isn't the stimulus which immediately impacts the brain- that undeniably is the neurones' wave- but it's still the light that causes it, just as it's the knife that does the stabbing, but it is you who effects this result.

As Con has not provided a definition of "see", I will do so at this stage:

"To see: to detect with the eyes and percieve with the brain".

Light IS being detected by the eyes, and it IS being percieved by the brain (albeit by decoding an electromagnetic impulse from the eye). We see light. My case rests.
Debate Round No. 2


Daft! Was that really necessary?

I don't see the analogy. My point is that although the knife technically does the stabbing it's me who's stabs the man. Our eyes detect light but detecting light is futile without our brains interpretation of the impulses from the eyes. A better analogy is to think of eyes as satelite dishes. They detect radio waves (which are not visible), send electrical impulses to our television, which converts the electrical impulses and create the images we see. Dreams would be analogous to watching a DVD. The only difference is that every object is a transmitter. If the object emits light our eyes can detect, our brain creates a mental image. It's this image which we perceive.

I'm interested to see where pro found this definition for see. Not one of the 30 sources I have seen mentions "detect with our eyes". They are careful not to insert this because they are fully aware of the fact that detecting light with our eyes does not constitute seeing.

Perhaps Pro is under the assumption that the reality we perceive is "out there" for us to see. If Pro had bothered to watch the documentary by David Eagleman, then Pro would realize this is not the case. The reality we perceive is a construct of our brain. We don't see reality as much as we create a visual representation of it.

Light consists of photons. To say photons are small is a gross understatement. They are not made of matter. They have no color. In fact, color only exists within the brain. It is physically impossible to see light.

Yes, light is being detected by the eye, but there it's journey ends. Once light strikes a cone, it's energy is converted through a process called phototransduction and what the brain detects are the resulting electrochemical impulses.

All we really see are objects. Cars, trees, people, etc. When we turn on a light in a dark room, objects become visible. When you look at the globe or any light source, you are not seeing light. You are seeing the source of the light. Try looking at a globe, but fix your eyes on one spot. After a while your eyes will adjust to the brightness and you will actually see the curved shape of the element. Close your eyes and you will still see a green after image. That's not light passing through your eyelids. You are seeing something without detecting light.

Thanks Pro for an interesting debate.


"The reality we perceive is a construct of our brain. "

Yes, we perceieve our own phanera (see source 2) but that doesn't mean reality doesn't exist. Even if it did mean that, then we'd simply have to change the definitions of words like "see" and "exist" to include a term to be percieved/present in our phanera rather than reality. This is not a problem of whether we see light but whether we can see anything, and once again, this is semantics- no reasonable definition of "see" would make it something which is impossible and include some nonsense which directly implies sollipsism.

"To say photons are small is a gross understatement. They are not made of matter."
Yes they are. Photons are a fundamental constituent of matter. They do not have mass, but they are matter. See source 1 for more.

"All we really see are objects. Cars, trees, people, etc. When we turn on a light in a dark room, objects become visible. "

We can also see light itself- If we are sat in an empty room, and a light beam is fired directly into our eyes (NB: this is extremely ill advised!), we see it. Light does not have to have reflected off something to be visible- we can see light which has not deflected off anything.

Debate Round No. 3
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 11 through 13 records.
Posted by Overhead 3 years ago
This debate is going to be semantic, so you should provide R1 definitions.
Posted by QueenDaisy 3 years ago
3rd year physics undergraduate here. Yes, you can see light.
Posted by What50 3 years ago
What kind of light or are you talking in general light levels?
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