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XIV. Anatomy, Zoology and Physiology Index
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On the conditions of sight (834. 835).I say that sight is exercised by all animals, by the medium of light; and if any one adduces, as against this, the sight of nocturnal animals, I must say that this in the same way is subject to the very same natural laws. For it will easily be understood that the senses which receive the images of things do not project from themselves any visual virtue  431 . On the contrary the atmospheric medium which exists between the object and the sense incorporates in itself the figure of things, and by its contact with the sense transmits the object to it. If the object--whether by sound or by odour--presents its spiritual force to the ear or the nose, then light is not required and does not act. The forms of objects do not send their images into

p. 125

the air if they are not illuminated [8]; and the eye being thus constituted cannot receive that from the air, which the air does not possess, although it touches its surface. If you choose to say that there are many animals that prey at night, I answer that when the little light which suffices the nature of their eyes is wanting, they direct themselves by their strong sense of hearing and of smell, which are not impeded by the darkness, and in which they are very far superior to man. If you make a cat leap, by daylight, among a quantity of jars and crocks you will see them remain unbroken, but if you do the same at night, many will be broken. Night birds do not fly about unless the moon shines full or in part; rather do they feed between sun-down and the total darkness of the night.


No body can be apprehended without light and shade, and light and shade are caused by light.


124:431 4: Compare No. 68.

125:432 8: See No. 58-67.

Next: 835.