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On The Soul   


disappear from existence at one and the same moment, and so actual

savour and actual tasting, &c., while as potentialities one of them

may exist without the other. The earlier students of nature were

mistaken in their view that without sight there was no white or black,

without taste no savour. This statement of theirs is partly true,

partly false: 'sense' and 'the sensible object' are ambiguous terms,

i.e. may denote either potentialities or actualities: the statement is

true of the latter, false of the former. This ambiguity they wholly

failed to notice.

If voice always implies a concord, and if the voice and the

hearing of it are in one sense one and the same, and if concord always

implies a ratio, hearing as well as what is heard must be a ratio.

That is why the excess of either the sharp or the flat destroys the

hearing. (So also in the case of savours excess destroys the sense

of taste, and in the case of colours excessive brightness or

darkness destroys the sight, and in the case of smell excess of

strength whether in the direction of sweetness or bitterness is

destructive.) This shows that the sense is a ratio.

That is also why the objects of sense are (1) pleasant when the

sensible extremes such as acid or sweet or salt being pure and unmixed

are brought into the proper ratio; then they are pleasant: and in

general what is blended is more pleasant than the sharp or the flat

alone; or, to touch, that which is capable of being either warmed or

chilled: the sense and the ratio are identical: while (2) in excess

the sensible extremes are painful or destructive.

Each sense then is relative to its particular group of sensible

qualities: it is found in a sense-organ as such and discriminates

the differences which exist within that group; e.g. sight

discriminates white and black, taste sweet and bitter, and so in all

cases. Since we also discriminate white from sweet, and indeed each

sensible quality from every other, with what do we perceive that

they are different? It must be by sense; for what is before us is

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