§7. The Similarity of Feelings of Different Sensory Modes 1)


312. One of the old Scotch psychologists, whether it was Dugald Stewart or Reid2) or which other matters naught, mentions, as strikingly exhibiting the disparateness of different senses, that a certain man blind from birth asked of a person of normal vision whether the color scarlet was not something like the blare of a trumpet; and the philosopher evidently expects his readers to laugh with him over the incongruity of the notion. But what he really illustrates much more strikingly is the dullness of apprehension of those who, like himself, had only the conventional education of the eighteenth century and remained wholly uncultivated in comparing ideas that in their matter are very unlike. For everybody who has acquired the degree of susceptibility which is requisite in the more delicate branches of reasoning — those kinds of reasoning which our Scotch psychologist would have labelled »Intuitions« with a strong suspicion that they were delusions — will recognize at once so decided a likeness between a luminous and extremely chromatic scarlet, like that of the iodide of mercury as commonly sold under the name of scarlet [and the blare of a trumpet] that I would almost hazard a guess that the form of the chemical oscillations set up by this color in the observer will be found to resemble that of the acoustical waves of the trumpet's blare. I am only deterred from doing so by its being apparently true that our sense of hearing is entirely analytic; so that we are totally deaf to the wave of sound as it exists, and only hear the harmonic components regardless of the phases at which vibrations of commensurable lengths are combined.


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