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On The Soul   


water which wets their bounding surfaces; from all this it follows

that in water two bodies cannot be in contact with one another. The

same holds of two bodies in air-air being to bodies in air precisely

what water is to bodies in water-but the facts are not so evident to

our observation, because we live in air, just as animals that live

in water would not notice that the things which touch one another in

water have wet surfaces. The problem, then, is: does the perception of

all objects of sense take place in the same way, or does it not,

e.g. taste and touch requiring contact (as they are commonly thought

to do), while all other senses perceive over a distance? The

distinction is unsound; we perceive what is hard or soft, as well as

the objects of hearing, sight, and smell, through a 'medium', only

that the latter are perceived over a greater distance than the former;

that is why the facts escape our notice. For we do perceive everything

through a medium; but in these cases the fact escapes us. Yet, to

repeat what we said before, if the medium for touch were a membrane

separating us from the object without our observing its existence,

we should be relatively to it in the same condition as we are now to

air or water in which we are immersed; in their case we fancy we can

touch objects, nothing coming in between us and them. But there

remains this difference between what can be touched and what can be

seen or can sound; in the latter two cases we perceive because the

medium produces a certain effect upon us, whereas in the perception of

objects of touch we are affected not by but along with the medium;

it is as if a man were struck through his shield, where the shock is

not first given to the shield and passed on to the man, but the

concussion of both is simultaneous.

In general, flesh and the tongue are related to the real organs of

touch and taste, as air and water are to those of sight, hearing,

and smell. Hence in neither the one case nor the other can there be

any perception of an object if it is placed immediately upon the

organ, e.g. if a white object is placed on the surface of the eye.

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