It is sometimes asked whether mentalists have a direct perception, or whether they merely have a sensation or a perception of external objects, which they have to reproduce from external stimuli and which do not directly communicate with them.
As far as we are able to know, the answer to this question depends upon the way in which the mentalist thinks, and it is in every respect an open question. It is possible to give a plausible form of the whole question:
How does one explain “a sensation” for which one does not direct one’s attention? This is done by the mere reception of a sensation from external objects, with which one is not directly concerned. What is called a sense that corresponds to a sensation is a sensation that has a certain quality in common with the sensation. A certain number of such sensations, the product of different sensory faculties, are known as “substances of contact,” in the sense that the “sense” is one of substances that have a certain kind of similarity in their internal structure. Thus in a given case the sensation will be one which has a certain relation to a particular object. “An act may be described in terms of its object and by one or several of the senses. Such descriptions are called “sensations of an act.” And if these descriptions relate to an object, they must also be called such because they involve an element of the object’s properties. This means that one must be able to show that a given description is not a particular case of the sensation, and that if this were so, no description could be called a description of the act; there would be no relation. In general it is not necessary to prove that a description has an element of the object’s properties to show that it has no relation to the act. In fact, the idea which is commonly presented of relation is merely an image of real relations or relations which are not in the least connected with the act. For instance, I cannot describe the feeling of heat as a sensation of heat because the same sensation does not really occur in the sensation if I do not know my sensations. But the sense-object may be thought of as analogous to hot and cold. An object of the first kind of sensation corresponds to a “hot” or “cold” feeling, and so I cannot define it to mean a particular kind of feeling but only a specific kind. By giving another definition, in accordance with the analogy of objects of heat and cold, to cover the case of a sensation of heat, I would
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