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Sensation and Perception

Abstract

HAVING in the Journal of Mental Science tried to show how Sensation and Intellect are distinguished from each other, allow me to state, in regard to Dr. Bastian's views on this head, that Dr. Lockhart Clarke, after a careful review of what has been written on Sensation, rejects Sir W. Hamilton's statement that “it is manifestly impossible to discriminate, with any rigour, sense from intelligence.” “Although, in the lowest animals, there is this apparent identity of sense and intelligence, which seem as it were to be fused into one common state of consciousness, yet when we find them in the course of development, either in the fœtus or in the scale of animal life, emerge each in a distinct and different form out of that common or indifferent state, are we to ignore the distinction, and assert with Sir W. Hamilton and others, that sensation is simply a function of the intellect? It might with equal reason be maintained that there is no real difference between any other two organs of the body, because in the ovum they are developed out of one homogeneous tissue or common germinal mass.”† According to Von Baer's law, it seems that while in the lower animals sense and intelligence are fused into one, in the higher they become differentiated, each having a separate seat. When Dr. Bastian then, contends, with the metaphysicians, for the identity of sense and intelligence, he seems to be reversing the method of evolution, and going back to the medley out of which well-defined organs with improved functions were evolved. He would make us believe that as the sense-ganglia become more defined and eliminate the rudiments of intelligence, they assume a lower function than they had before, one not to be distinguished in kind from that of the excito-motor system previously differentiated. Is this likely? As to the impossibility of discriminating sense from intelligence there are the following facts indicating the contrary. Physiology shows that the external object of the many must be revealed in a seat that is not at the periphery; but such an object is not an idea or notion; therefore, there is a marked distinction between an external object in sense and an idea of one in intellect. A sense-object may be common to two-distinct sets of ideas, as when it is now interpreted to be a ghost, now the stump of a tree. A sense-object is antecedent to an ideal object, for the latter only exists as a representation of the former. A feeling in sense may cause coughing or sneezing, e.g., in spite of the veto of the intellect. A feeling in sense may be so intensely painful as, for the time, to paralyse intellectual energy. But what about the following argument? What is known at first hand is known as it is, for if you say not as it is; but as it is not, you imply that it is not known at first hand, but through something which does not even represent it, which is absurd. Therefore, as sense and intelligence must be known at first hand, and, as thus known, are distinguishable from each other in many respects, pre-eminently, the one as the sphere of objects at first hand, the other at second hand; the one as pertaining to the organic ego, the other to the non-organic ego—each must be known as it is, not as it is not.

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DAVIES, W. Sensation and Perception. Nature 1, 407 (1870). https://doi.org/10.1038/001407b0

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