In Hearing, the functions of sensation and perception are perhaps more nearly balanced than in any other of the senses. The subjective character of various sounds, as sources of pleasure or pain to the hearer, maybe contrasted with their objective character, as resembling or differing from each other; and as in the latter relation this sense affords more accurate distinctions than those of taste and smell, so in the former the sensation is less capable of being carried to an extreme degree of pleasure or pain.
A lover of music might perhaps demur to the conclusion that the pleasures of hearing are less intense than those of taste or smell. In explanation, it should be remembered that we are speaking only of the pleasure conveyed by the sensation itself. The pleasure derived from music is mainly intellectual, and is chiefly derived, not from the sound heard in any one sensation, but from the cognition of its relation to others, which are not heard, but remembered; or from associations which maybe suggested by, but are not actually contained in, the sound as heard.
In short, the natural sensation, which is common to all mankind, must be distinguished from the acquired sensation, which is in a great degree the result of education. Contributing in different degrees both to enjoyment and to information, may be characterised as a source of the latter rather than of the former; and if, according to the rule already mentioned, the sensation and the perception are in an inverse ratio to each other, it will follow, that in proportion as our attention is more directed to the discrimination of various sounds from each other, we are less immediately conscious of the pleasure or pain which they are capable of communicating.
In hearing, as in the senses previously described, we are directly cognisant, not of the sonorous body, but of the change of the condition of the auditory nerve produced by contact with a medium by which the vibrations are transmitted (the fluid enclosed in the labyrinth of the ear); and hence hearing, like the other senses, is a modification of touch, and does not directly inform us of the existence of any other material object than our own nervous organism.
Hence it followed that neither the distance nor the direction from which a sound proceeds is immediately perceived by the ear; and this conclusion is confirmed by the facts connected with the exercise of this sense in its uneducated condition, as by children, and occasionally also by adults. The child does not appear to be conscious at first of the direction or distance of voices that attract his attention; and it is a remarkable instance of the same kind in a grown person is mentioned by Dr. Reid. I remember he said that “once lying a-bed, and having been put into a fright, I heard my own heart beat; but I took it to be one knocking at the door, and arose and opened the door more than once, before I discovered that the sound was in my own breast.”
***Excerpt from Henry Longueville Mansel, B.d.. Metaphysics or the philosophy of consciousness