Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/83

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

a few strokes of the clock, the reiterated impressions merge and cover one another; we lose count and perceive the quality and rhythm but not the number of the sounds. If this is true of so abstract and mathematical a perception as is counting, how emphatically true must it be of continuous and infinitely varied perceptions flowing in from the whole spatial world. Glimpses of the environment follow one another in quick succession, like a regiment of soldiers in uniform; only now and then does the stream take a new turn, catch a new ray of sunlight, or arrest our attention at some break.

The senses in their natural play revert constantly to familiar objects, gaining impressions which differ but slightly from one another. These slight differences are submerged in apperception, so that sensation comes to be not so much an addition of new items to consciousness as a reburnishing there of some imbedded device. Its character and relations are only slightly modified at each fresh rejuvenation. To catch the passing phenomenon in all its novelty and idiosyncrasy is a work of artifice and curiosity. Such an exercise does violence to intellectual instinct and involves an aesthetic power of diving bodily into the stream of sensation, having thrown overboard all rational ballast and escaped at once the inertia and the momentum of practical life. Normally every datum of sense is at once devoured by a hungry intellect and digested for the sake of its vital