The Nature of Things: Book 4 The Senses

Book 4 was interesting with its discussion of how our senses affect us, and then it also goes into sex. It amazes me that Lucretius knew so much about the human body and science, when it was only around 50 B.C. I understand that many of the topics he approaches are what we consider common sense now, but to think of a time when these were new discoveries and observations is intriguing. Below are some quotes I found interesting within this chapter.

Eyes can’t grasp the true nature of things. So do not claim
The fault’s with them, when really it’s the mind that is to blame.” pg. 118

This is true because of things like depth perception. We cannot actually tell how far away something is, we can guess, but it would take getting up and physically measuring to know for sure. It is our mind’s fault that the perception could be distorted, possibly by optical illusion.

That no one starts to undertake a single act until
The mind has looked ahead and has decided that it will.” pg. 133

Sometimes I feel this isn’t true. I feel some things I do are second nature, I don’t have to image the action before performing it because I already know how it will most likely turn out. Although I imagine that at some point I probably had to visualize the action before I performed it, if it was for the first time; therefore, currently I am uncertain to the validity of this statement.

Now then, regarding sleep and how it floods the limbs with rest,
Loosens the mind from troubles and unknots cares from the breasts…” pg. 134

Occasionally I awake abruptly, unrested, and very troubled, I call these moments nightmares. They completely counter every aspect of this quote, except that I am sleeping at the time of the occurrences. A couple of weeks ago I woke up suddenly around 2 am to find that my arm was numb (from sleeping on it weird) and my heart was racing faster than it does after a hard workout. I wish all sleep caused the mind to be free of troubles and restful, but it is not always true.


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