Observations upon experimental philosophy to which is added The description of a new blazing world
Newcastle, Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of, 1624?-1674.

36. Of the different Perceptions of Sense and Rea∣son.

HAving declared in the former discourse, that there is a double Perception in all Parts of Nature, to wit, Rational and Sensitive; some might ask, How these two degrees of Motions work; whether differently Page  177 or unitedly in every part to one and the same percep∣tion?

I answer: That regularly the animal perception of exterior objects, is made by its own sensitive, rational, corporeal and figurative motions; the sensitive pat∣terning out the figure or action of an outward object in the sensitive organ; and the rational making a figure of the same object in their own substance; so that both the rational and sensitive motions work to one and the same perception, and that at the same point of time, and as it were by one act; but yet it is to be observed, that many times they do not move together to one and the same perception; for the sensitive and rational motions do many times move differently even in one and the same part; as for the rational, they being not incum∣bred with any other parts of matter, but moving in their own degree, are not at all bound to work always with the sensitive, as is evident in the production of Fancies, Thoughts, Imaginations, Conceptions, &c. which are figures made onely by the rational motions in their own matter or substance, without the help of the sensitive; and the sensitive, although they do not com∣monly work without the rational, yet many times they do; and sometimes both the rational and sensitive work without patterns, that is, voluntarily and by rote; and sometimes the sensitive take patterns from the rational, as in the invention of arts, or the like; so that there is no necessity that they should always work together to Page  178 the same perception. Concerning the perception of exterior objects, I will give an instance, where both the rational and sensitive motions do work differently, and not to the same perception: Suppose a man be in a deep contemplative study, and some body touch or pinch him, it happens oft that he takes no notice at all of it, nor doth not feel it, when as yet his touched or pinched parts are sensible, or have a sensitive perception thereof; also a man doth often see or hear something without minding or taking notice thereof, especially when his thoughts are busily imployed about some o∣ther things; which proves, that his Mind, or rational motions work quite to another perception then his sen∣sitive do. But some perhaps will say, because there is a thorow mixture of animate (rational and sensitive) and inanimate matter, and so close and inseparable a union and conjunction betwixt them, it is impossible they should work differently, or not together: Be∣sides, the alledged example doth not prove, that the rational and sensitive motions in one and the same part that is touched or pinched, or in the organ which hears or seeth, do not work together, but proves onely, that the sensitive motions of the touched part or organ, and the rational motions in the head or brain, do not work together; when as nevertheless, although a man takes no notice of another mans touching or pinching, the rational motions of that same part may perceive it. To which I answer: First, I do not deny that there is a Page  179 close conjunction and commixture of both the rational and sensitive parts in every body or creatnre, and that they are always moving and acting; but I deny that they are always moving to the same perception; for to be, and move together, and to move together to the same perception, are two different things. Next, al∣though I allow that there are particular, both rational and sensitive figurative motions in every part and par∣ticle of the body; yet the rational being more obser∣ving and inspective then the sensitive, as being the de∣signing and ordering parts, may sooner have a general information and knowledg of all other rational parts of the composed figure, and may all unitedly work to the conceptions or thoughts of the musing and contem∣plating man; so that his rational motions in the pinched part of his body, may work to his interior conceptions, and the sensitive motions of the same part, to the exte∣rior perception: for although I say in my Philosophi∣cal Opinions, that all Thoughts, Fancies, Imagi∣nations, Conceptions, &c. are made in the head, and all Passions in the heart; yet I do not mean that all ra∣tional figurative actions are onely confined to the head, and to the heart, and are in no other parts of the body of an Animal, or Man; for surely, I believe there is sense and reason, or sensitive and rational know∣ledg, not onely in all Creatures, but in every part of every particular Creature. But since the sensitive organs in man are joined in that part which is named Page  180 the head, we believe that all knowledg lies in the head, by reason the other parts of the body do not see as the eyes, nor hear as the ears, nor smell as the nose, nor taste as the tongue, &c. all which makes us prefer the rational and sensitive motions that work to those percep∣tions in the mentioned organs, before the motions in the other parts of the body; when as yet these are no less rational or sensible then they, although the acti∣ons of their sensitive and rational perceptions are after another manner; for the motions of digestion, growth, decay, &c. are as sensible, and as rational as those five sensitive organs, or the head; and the heart, liver, lungs, spleen, stomack, bowels, and the rest, know as well their office and functions, and are as sensible of their pains, diseases, constitutions, tempers, nourish∣ments, &c. as the eyes, ears, nostrils, tongue, &c. know their particular actions and perceptions; for although no particular part can know the Infinite parts of Na∣ture, yet every part may know it self, and its own acti∣ons, as being self-moving. And therefore the head or brains cannot ingross all knowledg to themselves; but the other parts of the body have as much in the design∣ing and production of a Creature, as the brain has in the production of a Thought; for Children are not produced by thoughts, no more then digestion or nou∣rishment is produced by the eyes, or the making of blood by the ears; or the several appetites of the body by the five exterior sensitive organs; But although Page  181 all, (interior as well as exterior) parts of the body have their particular knowledges and perceptions dif∣ferent from those of the head and the five sensitive or∣gans, and the heads and organs knowledg and percep∣tion are differing from them; nevertheless, they have acquaintance or correspondence with each other; for when the stomack has an appetite to food, the mouth and hands endeavour to serve it, and the legs are wil∣ling to run for it: The same may be said of other Ap∣petites. Also in case of Oppression, when one part of the body is oppressed, or in distress, all the other parts endeavour to relieve that distressed or afflicted part. Thus although there is difference between the particular actions, knowledges and perceptions of every part, which causes an ignorance betwixt them, yet by reason there is knowledg and perception in eve∣ry part, by which each part doth not onely know it self, and its own actions, but has also a perception of some actions of its neighbouring parts; it causes a ge∣neral intelligence and information betwixt the parti∣cular parts of a composed figure; which information and intelligence, as I have mentioned heretofore, is more general betwixt the rational then the sensitive parts; for though both the sensitive and rational parts are so closely intermixt that they may have knowledg of each other, yet the sensitive parts are not so gene∣rally knowing of the concerns of a composed figure as the rational, by reason the rational are more free and Page  182 at liberty then the sensitive, which are more incumbred with working on and with the inanimate parts of Mat∣ter; and therefore it may very well be, that a man in a deep contemplative study doth not always feel when he is pinched or touched; because all the rational motions of his body concur or join to the conception of his mu∣sing thoughts; so that onely the sensitive motions in that part do work to the perception of touch, when as the rational, even of the same part, may work to the conception of his thoughts. Besides, it happeneth oft that there is not always an agreement betwixt the rati∣onal and sensitive motions, even in the same parts; for the rational may move regularly, and the sensitive ir∣regularly; or the sensitive may move regularly, and the rational irregularly; nay, often there are irregu∣larities and disagreements in the same degree of moti∣ons, as betwixt rational and rational, sensitive and sen∣sitive; And although it be proper for the rational to inform the sensitive, yet the sensitive do often inform the rational; onely they cannot give such a general in∣formation as the rational; for one rational part can in∣form all other rational parts in a moment of time, and by one act: And therefore rational knowledg is not onely in the head or brains, but in every part or particle of the body.

Some Learned conceive, That all knowledg is in the Mind, and none in the senses: For the senses, say they, present onely exterior objects to the mind; who Page  183 sits as a Judg in the kernel or fourth ventricle of the brain, or in the orifice of the stomack, and judges of them; which in my apprehension is a very odd opinion: For first, they allow that all knowledg and perception comes by the senses, and the sensitive spirits; who like faithful servants run to and fro, as from the sensitive organs to the brain and back, to carry news to the mind; and yet they do not grant that they have any know∣ledg at all: which shews, they are very dull servants, and I wonder how they can inform the mind of what they do not know themselves. Perchance, they'l say, it is after the manner or way of intelligence by Letters, and not by word of mouth; for those that carry Let∣ters to and fro, know nothing of the business that inter∣cedes betwixt the correspondents, and so it may be be∣twixt the mind, and the external object. I answer: First, I cannot believe there's such a correspondence between the object and the mind of the sentient, or per∣ceiver; for if the mind and the object should be com∣pared to such two intelligencers, they would always have the like perception of each other, which we see is not so; for oftentimes I have a perception of such or such an object, but that object may have no percepti∣on of me; besides, there's nothing carried from the ob∣ject to the mind of the sentient by its officers the sensi∣tive spirits, as there is betwixt two correspondents; for there's no perception made by an actual emission of parts from the object to the mind; for if Perception Page  184 were made that way, not onely some parts of the ob∣ject, but the figure of the whole object would enter through the sensitive organ, and presentit self before the mind, by reason all objects are not perceived in parts, but many in whole; and since the exterior fi∣gure of the object is onely perceived by the senses, then the bare figure would enter into the brain without the body or substance of the object: which how it could be, I am not able to conceive; nay, if it were possible, truly it would not be hidden from the Minds officers the sensitive spirits, except they did carry it veiled or co∣vered; but then they would know at least from whence they had it, and to whom and how they were to carry it. Wherefore it is absurd, in my opinion, to say, that the senses bring all knowledg of exterior ob∣jects to the mind, and yet have none themselves; and that the mind chiefly resides but in one part of the bo∣dy; so that when the heel is touched, the sensitive spi∣rits, who watch in that place, do run up to the head, and bring news to the mind. Truly if the senses have no knowledg of themselves, How comes it that a man born blind cannot tell what the light of the Sun is, or the light of a Candle, or the light of a Glow-worms tail? For though some objects of one sense may be guessed by the perception of another sense, as we may guess by touch the perception of an object that belongs to sight, &c. yet we cannot perfectly know it except we saw it, by reason the perception of sight belongs Page  185 onely to the optick sense. But some may ask, if a man be so blind, that he cannot make use of his optick sense, what is become of the sensitive motions in that same part of his body, to wit, the optick sensorium? I an∣swer, The motions of that part are not lost, because the man is blind, and cannot see; for a privation or absence of a thing, doth not prove that it is quite lost; but the same motions which formerly did work to the percep∣tion of sight, are onely changed, and work now to some other action then the perception of sight; so that it is onely a change or alteration of motions in the same parts, and not an annihilation; for there's no such thing as an annihilation in Nature, but all the variety in Na∣ture is made by change of motions. Wherefore, to conclude, the opinion of sense and reason, or a sensi∣tive and rational knowledg in all parts of Nature, is, in my judgment, more probable and rational, then the Opinion which confines all knowledg of Nature to a mans Brains or Head, and allows none neither to the Senses, nor to any part of Nature.