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On Sense And The Sensible   

in the earth. Hence many of the old natural philosophers assert that

water has qualities like those of the earth through which it flows,

a fact especially manifest in the case of saline springs, for salt

is a form of earth. Hence also when liquids are filtered through

ashes, a bitter substance, the taste they yield is bitter. There are

many wells, too, of which some are bitter, others acid, while others

exhibit other tastes of all kinds.

As was to be anticipated, therefore, it is in the vegetable

kingdom that tastes occur in richest variety. For, like all things

else, the Moist, by nature's law, is affected only by its contrary;

and this contrary is the Dry. Thus we see why the Moist is affected by

Fire, which as a natural substance, is dry. Heat is, however, the

essential property of Fire, as Dryness is of Earth, according to

what has been said in our treatise on the elements. Fire and Earth,

therefore, taken absolutely as such, have no natural power to

affect, or be affected by, one another; nor have any other pair of

substances. Any two things can affect, or be affected by, one

another only so far as contrariety to the other resides in either of


As, therefore, persons washing Colours or Savours in a liquid

cause the water in which they wash to acquire such a quality [as

that of the colour or savour], so nature, too, by washing the Dry

and Earthy in the Moist, and by filtering the latter, that is,

moving it on by the agency of heat through the dry and earthy, imparts

to it a certain quality. This affection, wrought by the aforesaid

Dry in the Moist, capable of transforming the sense of Taste from

potentiality to actuality, is Savour. Savour brings into actual

exercise the perceptive faculty which pre-existed only in potency. The

activity of sense-perception in general is analogous, not to the

process of acquiring knowledge, but to that of exercising knowledge

already acquired.

That Savours, either as a quality or as the privation of a

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