Illusions eBook

James Sully
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 358 pages of information about Illusions.
normal men agree in holding and what the individual holds, whether temporarily or permanently, in contradiction to this.  For our present purpose the real is that which is true for all.  Thus, though physical science may tell us that there is nothing corresponding to our sensations of colour in the world of matter and motion which it conceives as surrounding us; yet, inasmuch as to all men endowed with the normal colour-sense the same material objects appear to have the same colour, we may speak of any such perception as practically true, marking it off from those plainly illusory perceptions which are due to some subjective cause, as, for example, fatigue of the retina.

To sum up:  in treating of illusions we shall assume, what science as distinguished from philosophy is bound to assume, namely, that human experience is consistent; that men’s perceptions and beliefs fall into a consensus.  From this point of view illusion is seen to arise through some exceptional feature in the situation or condition of the individual, which, for the time, breaks the chain of intellectual solidarity which under ordinary circumstances binds the single member to the collective body.  Whether the common experience which men thus obtain is rightly interpreted is a question which does not concern us here.  For our present purpose, which is the determination and explanation of illusion as popularly understood, it is sufficient that there is this general consensus of belief, and this may provisionally be regarded as at least practically true.



If illusion is the simulation of immediate knowledge, the most obvious mode of classifying illusions would appear to be according to the variety of the knowledge which they simulate.

Now, the popular psychology that floats about in the ordinary forms of language has long since distinguished certain kinds of unreasoned or uninferred knowledge.  Of these the two best known are perception and memory.  When I see an object before me, or when I recall an event in my past experience, I am supposed to grasp a piece of knowledge directly, to know something immediately, and not through the medium of something else.  Yet I know differently in the two cases.  In the first I know by what is called a presentative process, namely, that of sense-perception; in the second I know by a representative process, namely, that of reproduction, or on the evidence of memory.  In the one case the object of cognition is present to my perceptive faculties; in the other it is recalled by the power of memory.

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Illusions from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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