On Aristotle On Sense Perception (Ancient Commentators on Aristotle)

On Aristotle On Sense Perception (Ancient Commentators on Aristotle)

Alexander of Aphrodisias

Language: English

Pages: 239


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In his work On Sense Perception, Aristotle discusses the material conditions of perception, starting with the sense organs and moving to the material basis of colour, flavour and odour. His Pythagorean account of hues as a ratio of dark to light was enthusiastically endorsed by Goethe against Newton as being true to the painter's experience. Aristotle finishes with three problems about continuity. First, in what sense are indefinitely small colour patches or colour variations perceptible? Secondly, which perceptible leap discontinuously like light to fill a whole space, which have to reach one point before another; and do observers of the latter perceive the same thing if they are at different distances? Thirdly, how does the central sense permit genuinely simultaneous, rather than staggered, perception of different objects?
Alexander's highly explanatory commentary is most expansive on these problems of continuity. His battery of objections to vision involving travel, which would lead to collisions and interference by winds, inspired a tradition of grading the five senses in respect of degrees of immateriality and of intentionality. He also introduces us to paradoxes of Diodorus Cronus about the relations of the smallest perceptible to the largest perceptible size.





















92,9 osmês dektikon, osphranton houtô ginomenon (Wendland). 352. Alexander means that air and water as media for the perception of smell do not themselves possess flavour. 353. The ‘moist bodies’ are air (cf. n. 346) and water, bodies which were described as transodorant by analogy with transparent bodies at 88,18-89,5. 354. cf. 57,1-2. 355. cf. 82,21-87,4 (commenting on Sens. 4, 442a29-b26). 356. Reading hupo tês enkhumou xêrotêtos paskhein ti in the lacuna in 94,7 (Wendland). 357. GC 2.3,

actually perceptible on its own. The excess which contributes to the perceptibility of the whole body of which it is part is not actually perceptible on its own but is potentially perceptible in the sense that it makes the aforesaid contribution. 405. Reading di’ hênômenôn for di’ hôn in 119,25 (Wendland). 406. Reading presbutera hê for hê hustera in 120,8 (Wendland). 407. Reading meros tou for meros autou in 122,13 (Wendland). 408. Diodorus Cronus, who was active around 300 BC, was an

cause as there are few sounds which go together harmoniously, or that all the colours are generated depending upon certain numbers of the juxtaposed with each other, but there are ordered juxtapositions, out of which the pleasant colours , and disordered ones, and the disordered ones are not generated because of the incommensurability of the predominance but because of the disorder of the juxtaposition.248 For ten can be juxtaposed with five in various ways, and it is

said to be generated in that way in accordance with the juxtaposition of the invisible , since no magnitude is invisible, but this second opinion mentioned would itself also become responsible for the mixture of the colours, the opinion in accordance with the painting over and superimposition of one by another. He will describe another and this is more authoritative. Although there are no invisible magnitudes, he nevertheless says (440a29-31) that nothing prevents a

locomotion, but this is not so with visibles. He says: air and water, the media of hearing and smell, through which hearing and smelling come about when are affected and moved by the perceptibles, are continuous in the same way as each other, water clearly with water and air with air (for bodies, and just as air is continuous with itself so water is too), but the movements which come about in them come about in a manner involving division into parts and

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