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7. LECTURE VII. THE DEFINITION OF PERCEPTION
In Lecture V we found reason to think that the ultimate constituents* of the world do not have the characteristics of either mind or matter as ordinarily understood: they are not solid persistent objects moving through space, nor are they fragments of "consciousness." But we found two ways of grouping particulars, one into "things" or "pieces of matter," the other into series of "perspectives," each series being what may be called a "biography." Before we can define either sensations or images, it is necessary to consider this twofold classification in somewhat greater detail, and to derive from it a definition of perception. It should be said that, in so far as the classification assumes the whole world of physics (including its unperceived portions), it contains hypothetical elements. But we will not linger on the grounds for admitting these, which belong to the philosophy of physics rather than of psychology.
* When I speak of "ultimate constituents," I do not mean necessarily such as are theoretically incapable of analysis, but only such as, at present, we can see no means of analysing. I speak of such constituents as "particulars," or as "RELATIVE particulars" when I wish to emphasize the fact that they may be themselves complex.
The physical classification of particulars collects together all those that are aspects of one "thing." Given any one particular, it is found often (we do not say always) that there are a number of other particulars differing from this one in gradually increasing degrees. Those (or some of those) that differ from it only very slightly will be found to differ approximately according to certain laws which may be called, in a generalized sense, the laws of "perspective"; they include the ordinary laws of perspective as a special case. This approximation grows more and more nearly exact as the difference grows less; in technical language, the laws of perspective account for the differences to the first order of small quantities, and other laws are only required to account for second-order differences. That is to say, as the difference diminishes, the part of the difference which is not according to the laws of perspective diminishes much more rapidly, and bears to the total difference a ratio which tends towards zero as both are made smaller and smaller. By this means we can theoretically collect together a number of particulars which may be defined as the "aspects" or "appearances" of one thing at one time. If the laws of perspective were sufficiently known, the connection between different aspects would be expressed in differential equations.
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