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To affirm the existence of reality in general is merely to affirm that I have a feeling. Now, while I may make an incorrect identification of one present feeling with another merely remembered, I can never be in any doubt that I feel, and this fact is altogether independent of whether there be any external cause producing my feeling. I may think I am loaded down when I am merely fatigued, thus mistaking the feeling of weakness for that of weight; but this does not interfere with the fact that I have a feeling. Unless I had a feeling I could not even misinterpret it. My feeling is always equally a reality, whatever be its origin. It follows from this that the essence of reality is beyond all mistaking. One must be careful not to confound with ideal being, which is essentially indeterminate, the indeterminate concept of real being. The former is the simplest of all ideas; the latter, the vaguest of all concepts, the individuum vagum of the Schoolman. The individuum vagissimum is pure reality, completely undetermined.
In perception we
add the essence of being to the felt activity, but we never confound the two.
It may be said that, since we must add the essence of being to feeling, before we can affirm or know it as a being, therefore we know in feeling what is not in it. Let us observe, however, that this objection would be valid only if we affirmed that the feeling itself was the essence of being. But this we do not do. We do, indeed, add the essence of being to the felt activity in order to render it a perceptible and knowable being; but we are perfectly aware, at the same time, that the felt activity is not by itself the essence of being, but only a contingent realization or mode of it, the term of its action. The essence of being, which we add to it, is only the means whereby we know it, the felt activity not being knowable except when seen in being (§ 31). We may cite a parallel case. We cannot perceive accident without perceiving it in substance, and yet we never mistake the one for the other : we always know perfectly that the accident is something different from the substance which we add to it in the act of perceiving it.
It would seem plain enough that the sensation of pain and the thought or concept of the same pain are two different things ; in other words, that sensation is not perception. This distinction was made as early as Plotinus, who says that aionosc are not rán, but are energies in relation to corporeal things and judgments in regard to spiritual ones.* It has been frequently restated, more or less perfectly, by many philosophers since his time ; but no one before Rosmini clearly marked the distinguishing element. In modern times the distinction was made current mainly by Reid, who expresses it as follows :"If ... we attend to the act of the mind which we call perception of an external object of sense, we shall find in it these three things : first, some conception or notion of the object perceived ; secondly, a strong and irresistible conviction and belief of its present existence ; and, thirdly, that this conviction and belief are immediate, and not the effect of reasoning."
“ Almost all perceptions have corresponding sensations, which constantly accompany them, and, on that account, are very apt to be confounded with them. ... When I smell a rose, there is in this operation both sensation and perception. The agreeable odour I feel, considered by itself, without relation to any external object, is merely a sensation. It affects the mind in a certain way; and this affection of the mind may be conceived, without a thought of the rose or any other object. This sensation can be nothing else than it is * Enneads, iii. 6, 2; in Kirchhoff's edition, xxv. I, vol. i. p. 206.
felt to be. Its very essence consists in being felt; and when it is not felt, it is not. There is no difference between the sensation and the feeling of it ; they are one and the same thing. . . . Let us next attend to the perception which we have in smelling a rose. Perception has always an external object; and the object of my perception, in this case, is that quality in the rose which I discern by the sense of smell. Observing that the agreeable sensation is raised when the rose is near, and ceases when it is removed, I am led, by my nature, to conclude some quality to be in the rose which is the cause of this sensation. This quality in the rose is the object perceived ; and that act of the mind, by which I have the conviction and belief of this quality, is what in this case I call perception.”* The distinction is excellently drawn, but the ground of it is not given. We are merely told that perception has always an external object, though what this means is not explained, and that we are compelled by our nature to place our sensations in some such object. This is stating, rather than explaining, a fact. Sir William Hamilton, who, though contemporary with Rosmini, was earlier in the history of philosophy, says of Reid's distinction, “The opposition of perception and sensation is true, but it is not a statement adequate to the generality of the contrast. Perception is only a special kind of knowledge, and sensation only a special kind of feeling. . . . Now, as perception is only a special mode of knowledge, and sensation only a special mode of feeling, so the contrast of perception and sensation is only the special manifestation of a contrast, which universally divides the generic phænomena themselves. It ought, therefore, in the first place, to have been noticed that the generic phænomena of knowledge and feeling are always found coexistent and yet always distinct; and the opposition of perception and sensation should have been stated as an obtrusive, but still only a particular, example of the general law. But not only is the distinction of perception and sensation not generalized—not referred to its category by our psychologists; it is not concisely and precisely stated. A cognition is objective, that is, our consciousness is then relative to something different from the present state of the mind itself; a feeling, on the contrary, is subjective, that is, our consciousness is exclusively limited to the pleasure or pain experienced by the thinking subject. Cognition and feeling are always coexistent. . . . Perception proper is the consciousness, through the senses, of the qualities of an object known as different from self; sensation proper is the consciousness of the subjective affection of pleasure or pain, which accompanies that act of knowledge. Perception is thus the objective element in the complex state—the element of cognition ; sensation is the subjective element—the element of feeling" (Lectures on Metaphysics, vol. ii. pp. 98 sq.).
* Intellectual Powers, Essay ii. ch. xvi., Collected Works, p. 310.
It will be seen from this that Sir William Hamilton had no clear notion of the distinction between perception and sensation. According to him, we should have no perception of self or its qualities, and no sensation of anything but pleasure and pain. This is plainly false, and Sir William would not have assumed such grounds of distinction, had he been able to state the true ones. This he was unable to do, because he had only a very vague and negative notion of what constitutes objectivity. Indeed, in this respect, as in many others, he is inferior to Reid. Rosmini (who had great respect for Reid, and indeed owed him much) adopted his distinction between sensation and perception, gave these terms the generality claimed by Hamilton for cognition and feeling, and showed what was the real distinction between them ; viz., that, while sensation is merely a modification of the subject involving no act on its part, perception is the result of a synthetic judgment, wherein the subject, by the addition of being to sensation, objectifies the latter and so cognizes it. Thus sensation and perception are, or, at least, may be, co-extensive. It is curious that though Hamilton (1788–1856) and Rosmini (1797-1855) were contemporaries, and though the former was acquainted with Italian philosophers, and the latter with nearly all the thinkers of the Scotch school, the one seems never to have heard of the other. For Rosmini's distinction between sensation, sensitive perception, and intellective perception, see under $ 74.
When we say that felt activity is realized being, it is plain that being must be realized in that mode which constitutes the felt activity. Therefore, if it is true that, when I pronounce a judgment on a mode of being, I merely pronounce and affirm that activity which I feel, nothing more and nothing less, it is evident that my judgment must be true.
Here then I have found the condition whose fulfilment will enable me to escape error even in my judgments respecting the mode of perceived being. It is this, that I affirm simply what I feel, nothing more and nothing less. It remains to be seen whether this condition is necessarily present in all such judgments, or whether it is necessarily not present, or finally whether, though it may always be present, it is not necessarily so. In the first case, my judgment would be necessarily true ; in the second, necessarily false; in the third, it might always be true, if I chose to proceed with fairness and caution, but might be false, if I chose to proceed otherwise. Now, it is quite obvious that I am not obliged always to say to myself exactly what I feel. I may lie to myself; I may say I feel more, or less, or otherwise than I really do. I may take
I one feeling for another-an internal image, for example, for an external perception. I may, in a word, deceive myself. But it is also plain that I
ceived being, but we are not necessarily SO.