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On The Soul   

We have now given an outline account of each of the several senses.


The following results applying to any and every sense may now be


(A) By a 'sense' is meant what has the power of receiving into

itself the sensible forms of things without the matter. This must be

conceived of as taking place in the way in which a piece of wax

takes on the impress of a signet-ring without the iron or gold; we say

that what produces the impression is a signet of bronze or gold, but

its particular metallic constitution makes no difference: in a similar

way the sense is affected by what is coloured or flavoured or

sounding, but it is indifferent what in each case the substance is;

what alone matters is what quality it has, i.e. in what ratio its

constituents are combined.

(B) By 'an organ of sense' is meant that in which ultimately such

a power is seated.

The sense and its organ are the same in fact, but their essence is

not the same. What perceives is, of course, a spatial magnitude, but

we must not admit that either the having the power to perceive or

the sense itself is a magnitude; what they are is a certain ratio or

power in a magnitude. This enables us to explain why objects of

sense which possess one of two opposite sensible qualities in a degree

largely in excess of the other opposite destroy the organs of sense;

if the movement set up by an object is too strong for the organ, the

equipoise of contrary qualities in the organ, which just is its

sensory power, is disturbed; it is precisely as concord and tone are

destroyed by too violently twanging the strings of a lyre. This

explains also why plants cannot perceive. in spite of their having a

portion of soul in them and obviously being affected by tangible

objects themselves; for undoubtedly their temperature can be lowered

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