Let's imagine a race of humans who evolved without sight.
They didn't survive. Natural Selection swung her broadsword and it was all over. Apes rule the earth.
That was a smart-ass answer, but it's got its share of truth. In order to evolve to be a species we consider intelligent (never mind the one that dominates the planet), it is necessary to develop a dominant sense, such as vision, that allows for the location and identification of distant objects.
- If a creature evolving under earthly conditions has developed the requisite intelligence to derive, study, and share complex physical laws like the universal speed of light or the universal theory of gravitation, it will also have developed vision or a comparable sense (like sonar).
- If a creature evolving under earthly conditions has not developed vision or a comparable sense, it will not have developed the requisite intelligence to derive, study, and share complex physical laws.
- If you found a society of creatures (such as ours) that had already developed a dominant sense of sight and stripped it from them along with all of their knowledge of complex physical laws, then yes, they would probably have a difficult time re-deriving said laws. They would also have a hard time surviving, having lost something upon which their survival had relied throughout their evolution. Their inability to re-derive their physical laws, therefore, would be no more special than their inability to cut their lawns or edit their databases.
Keep in mind that I'm assuming an evolutionary process rooted on Earth. Contemplating network sentiences based on electrically active algae dispersed through a liquid planet is fun but it is also pure speculation, unrooted in any science we know and not compatible with the apparatus of evolution as we understand it. Even if one did run with such a premise, the resulting thesis would read "Aliens wholly outside of our understanding of life think differently than we do." No kidding :)
Anyway, I think all of this debate falls entirely outside the intended premise of the nodeshell. Such is life when science invades metaphor. It's a mess.