Two MEN Stand with their faces toward the setting sun. One has the ordinary power of vision, the other is blind. To the one there appears a beautiful phenomenon, to the other, nothing. Both are facing the same juxtaposition of elements,—energy, matter, space and time, which constitutes the sunset sky.
To the one there is a transfer of external relations through the organs of vision into correlative internal relations within the brain and the production within the brain of a cognition or knowledge of the external relations, which he is able to contemplate. He contemplates with wonder and admiration this cognition of changing color and form, and he calls it a beautiful phenomenon. His companion, facing the same juxtaposition of elements, receives no cognition, no knowledge of anything to admire or contemplate.
The phenomenon is, therefore, not the combination of elements, but the cognition of this combination, the cognition produced within the brain of the individual through the organs of vision. To him who has no organs of vision there is no phenomenon, though the juxtaposition of elements is the same in both cases. But if the blind man has only recently become blind and has previously had the vision of a sunset sky, then the words, “sunset sky,” if mentioned by his companion, are transferred as an external relation through the organs of hearing into correlative internal relations within the brain.
And there is then the production of a cognition, not of the external relations in this case, but a cognition of a previous cognition, that is, a re-cognition, recollection or memory of the cognition of a previous juxtaposition of elements of the same general nature. And he is able to contemplate anew the cognition of a former sunset.
If, however, this blind man has always been blind, has never had the cognition of a sunset sky, then there is no avenue through which the present external relations may transfer correlative internal relations, and there can be no previous cognitions of vision and, hence, no re-cognition. Such a person can have no conception of a sunset sky.
So with two persons seated in the auditorium of a grand opera, one having the ordinary power of hearing, the other being entirely deaf. There is on the stage another juxtaposition of elements, energy, matter, space and time. To the person who hears there is a transfer of external relations through the organs of hearing into correlative internal relations within the brain and the production within the brain of a cognition or knowledge of melody, of external relations, which may be contemplated. To the other person there is no transfer of external into correlative internal relations and no sound, no phenomenon.
***Excerpt from Charles John Reed: The Law of Vital Infusion and the Phenomenon of Consciousness