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On The Soul   


Smelling, like the operation of the senses previously examined,

takes place through a medium, i.e. through air or water-I add water,

because water-animals too (both sanguineous and non-sanguineous)

seem to smell just as much as land-animals; at any rate some of them

make directly for their food from a distance if it has any scent. That

is why the following facts constitute a problem for us. All animals

smell in the same way, but man smells only when he inhales; if he

exhales or holds his breath, he ceases to smell, no difference being

made whether the odorous object is distant or near, or even placed

inside the nose and actually on the wall of the nostril; it is a

disability common to all the senses not to perceive what is in

immediate contact with the organ of sense, but our failure to

apprehend what is odorous without the help of inhalation is peculiar

(the fact is obvious on making the experiment). Now since bloodless

animals do not breathe, they must, it might be argued, have some novel

sense not reckoned among the usual five. Our reply must be that this

is impossible, since it is scent that is perceived; a sense that

apprehends what is odorous and what has a good or bad odour cannot

be anything but smell. Further, they are observed to be

deleteriously effected by the same strong odours as man is, e.g.

bitumen, sulphur, and the like. These animals must be able to smell

without being able to breathe. The probable explanation is that in man

the organ of smell has a certain superiority over that in all other

animals just as his eyes have over those of hard-eyed animals. Man's

eyes have in the eyelids a kind of shelter or envelope, which must

be shifted or drawn back in order that we may see, while hardeyed

animals have nothing of the kind, but at once see whatever presents

itself in the transparent medium. Similarly in certain species of

animals the organ of smell is like the eye of hard-eyed animals,

uncurtained, while in others which take in air it probably has a

curtain over it, which is drawn back in inhalation, owing to the

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