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On The Soul   


which shows that in us the organ is inaccurate. It is probable that

there is a parallel failure in the perception of colour by animals

that have hard eyes: probably they discriminate differences of

colour only by the presence or absence of what excites fear, and

that it is thus that human beings distinguish smells. It seems that

there is an analogy between smell and taste, and that the species of

tastes run parallel to those of smells-the only difference being

that our sense of taste is more discriminating than our sense of

smell, because the former is a modification of touch, which reaches in

man the maximum of discriminative accuracy. While in respect of all

the other senses we fall below many species of animals, in respect

of touch we far excel all other species in exactness of

discrimination. That is why man is the most intelligent of all

animals. This is confirmed by the fact that it is to differences in

the organ of touch and to nothing else that the differences between

man and man in respect of natural endowment are due; men whose flesh

is hard are ill-endowed by nature, men whose flesh is soft,

wellendowed.

As flavours may be divided into (a) sweet, (b) bitter, so with

smells. In some things the flavour and the smell have the same

quality, i.e. both are sweet or both bitter, in others they diverge.

Similarly a smell, like a flavour, may be pungent, astringent, acid,

or succulent. But, as we said, because smells are much less easy to

discriminate than flavours, the names of these varieties are applied

to smells only metaphorically; for example 'sweet' is extended from

the taste to the smell of saffron or honey, 'pungent' to that of

thyme, and so on.

In the same sense in which hearing has for its object both the

audible and the inaudible, sight both the visible and the invisible,

smell has for its object both the odorous and the inodorous.

'Inodorous' may be either (a) what has no smell at all, or (b) what

has a small or feeble smell. The same ambiguity lurks in the word

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