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Headword: Ὀφθαλμός
Adler number: omicron,1011
Translated headword: eye
Vetting Status: high
Aristotle wonders whether the perception of things that are objects of perception is apprehensible, and [whether] the organs of senses through which we have perception also are objects of perception, [and] why perception does not apprehend each one of them when nothing external is present. For instance, why the eye does not see itself if it is composed out of those things that are seeable (I mean the elements, of course). [...] So what [is] the solution? That perception is in potentiality what precisely it is, but all that is in potentiality is led toward actuality by the action of something that is in actuality. So perception, which is in potentiality, is also led toward actuality by what is an object of perception, since the external object of perception [...] also is in actuality. [...] But if it is led toward actuality by what is an object of perception, and the organ of sense in which perception is also is an object of perception, why it is not led toward actuality by such [an organ of perception]? Otherwise, if it is not possible for perception to apprehend its own organ of sense, which is an object of perception, why does it sometimes apprehend its excesses? For the sense of touch does not apprehend the natural heat existing in any body. But when the heat [present] in us falls into disproportion, such as occurs in the case of fevers, then, [the sense of touch] perceives heat. And similarly, sight does not apprehend the eye which is in its natural condition, such as happens in the case of wet things or the color of tunics. But when it suffers something contrary to nature, such as occurs to those suffering jaundice, it has a perception of the yellowness of the eye; that is why people think that everything is yellow. Similarly also if some other humor falls on the crystalline [lens], it also apprehends the color and its form. Hence also in the beginnings of cataracts, before the activity of the eye-pupil is completely hindered by being blocked, people seem to see mosquitoes and things of that sort.
Greek Original:
Ὀφθαλμός: διαπορεῖ Ἀριστοτέλης, εἰ ἡ αἴσθησις τῶν αἰσθητῶν ἐστιν ἀντιληπτική, αἰσθητὰ δὲ καὶ τὰ αἰσθητήρια δι' ὧν αἰσθανόμεθα, διὰ τί οὐχὶ ἑκάστου τούτων ἡ αἴσθησις ἀντιλαμβάνεται, καὶ μηδενὸς ἔξωθεν παρόντος. οἷον διὰ τί ὁ ὀφθαλμὸς οὐχ ὁρᾷ ἑαυτὸν συγκείμενος ἐκ τούτων ἅ ἐστιν ὁρατά, λέγω δὴ τῶν στοιχείων: τίς οὖν ἡ λύσις; διότι ἡ αἴσθησις δυνάμει μέν ἐστι τοῦτο ὅπερ ἐστί, πᾶν δὲ τὸ δυνάμει προάγεται εἰς ἐνέργειαν ὑπό τινος ἐνεργείᾳ ὄντος: οὐκοῦν καὶ ἡ αἴσθησις δυνάμει οὖσα προάγεται εἰς ἐνέργειαν ὑπὸ τοῦ αἰσθητοῦ, αἰσθητοῦ δὲ τοῦ ἔξωθεν καὶ ἐνεργείᾳ ὄντος. ἀλλ' εἰ ὑπὸ τοῦ αἰσθητοῦ προάγεται εἰς ἐνέργειαν, αἰσθητὸν δὲ καὶ τὸ αἰσθητήριον, ἐν ᾧ ἡ αἴσθησις, διὰ τί μὴ καὶ ὑπὸ τούτου προάγεται εἰς ἐνέργειαν; ἄλλως τε εἰ μὴ οἵα τέ ἐστιν ἡ αἴσθησις τοῦ οἰκείου αἰσθητηρίου ἀντιλαμβάνεσθαι αἰσθητοῦ γε ὄντος, τί δήποτε τῶν ὑπερβολῶν αὐτοῦ ἀντιλαμβάνεται; τῆς μὲν γὰρ κατὰ φύσιν θερμασίας τῆς ἐν τῷ παντὶ σώματι ἡ ἁπτικὴ αἴσθησις οὐκ ἀντιλαμβάνεται: ἐπειδὰν μέντοι εἰς ἀμετρίαν ἡ ἐν ἡμῖν θερμότης ἐκπέσῃ, ὡς ἐπὶ τῶν πυρετῶν, τὸ τηνικαῦτα αἰσθάνεται ταύτης. καὶ ἡ ὄψις ὁμοίως τοῦ μὲν ὀφθαλμοῦ κατὰ φύσιν ἔχοντος οὐκ ἀντιλαμβάνεται, οἷον ποῖόν ἐστι τὸ τῶν ὑγρῶν, τὸ τῶν χιτώνων χρῶμα: ἐπειδὰν μέντοι παρὰ φύσιν τι πάθῃ, ὡς ἐπὶ τῶν ἰκτεριώντων, τῆς ἐπὶ τῷ ὀφθαλμῷ ὠχριάσεως αἴσθησιν ἴσχει: διὸ οἴονται πάντα ὠχρὰ εἶναι. ὁμοίως καὶ εἰ ἄλλος τις χυμὸς ἐνσκήψει ἐν τῷ κρυσταλλοειδεῖ, καὶ τοῦ χρώματος καὶ τοῦ σχήματος αὐτοῦ ἀντιλαμβάνεται. ὅθεν καὶ ἐν ταῖς ἀρχαῖς τῶν ἐπιχύσεων, πρὶν τελείως κωλυθῇ ἡ ἐνέργεια τῆς κόρης σκεπασθείσης, δοκοῦσιν ὁρᾶν κώνωπας καί τινα τοιαῦτα.
Abridged from John Philoponus, Commentary on Aristotle's de anima 291.2-33 Hayduck (with some variations).
Keywords: medicine; philosophy; science and technology; zoology
Translated by: Marcelo Boeri on 27 October 2003@12:58:39.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (removed misplaced translation material (and associated note and keyword); internal rearrangement; other cosmetics) on 28 October 2003@08:29:18.
David Whitehead (tweaks to tr; more keywords) on 3 August 2009@10:11:08.
Catharine Roth (tweaks) on 30 July 2010@13:43:06.
Catharine Roth (tweaks, status) on 30 July 2010@14:18:19.
David Whitehead on 2 August 2013@07:18:14.


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