24. The next question is whether perception is concerned only with need.
The soul, isolated, has no sense-perception; sensations go with the body; sensation itself therefore must occur by means of the body to which the sensations are due; it must be something brought about by association with the body.
Thus either sensation occurs in a soul compelled to follow upon bodily states- since every graver bodily experience reaches at last to soul- or sensation is a device by which a cause is dealt with before it becomes so great as actually to injure us or even before it has begun to make contact.
At this, sense-impressions would aim at utility. They may serve also to knowledge, but that could be service only to some being not living in knowledge but stupefied as the result of a disaster, and the victim of a Lethe calling for constant reminding: they would be useless to any being free from either need or forgetfulness. This This reflection enlarges the enquiry: it is no longer a question of earth alone, but of the whole star-system, all the heavens, the kosmos entire. For it would follow that, in the sphere of things not exempt from modification, sense-perception would occur in every part having relation to any other part: in a whole, however- having relation only to itself, immune, universally self-directed and self-possessing- what perception could there be?
Granted that the percipient must act through an organ and that this organ must be different from the object perceived, then the universe, as an All, can have [no sensation since it has] no organ distinct from object: it can have self-awareness, as we have; but sense-perception, the constant attendant of another order, it cannot have.
Our own apprehension of any bodily condition apart from the normal is the sense of something intruding from without: but besides this, we have the apprehension of one member by another; why then should not the All, by means of what is stationary in it, perceive that region of itself which is in movement, that is to say the earth and the earth's content?
Things of earth are certainly affected by what passes in other regions of the All; what, then, need prevent the All from having, in some appropriate way, the perception of those changes? In addition to that self-contemplating vision vested in its stationary part, may it not have a seeing power like that of an eye able to announce to the All-Soul what has passed before it? Even granted that it is entirely unaffected by its lower, why, still, should it not see like an eye, ensouled as it is, all lightsome?
Still: "eyes were not necessary to it," we read. If this meant simply that nothing is left to be seen outside of the All, still there is the inner content, and there can be nothing to prevent it seeing what constitutes itself: if the meaning is that such self-vision could serve to no use, we may think that it has vision not as a main intention for vision's sake but as a necessary concomitant of its characteristic nature; it is difficult to conceive why such a body should be incapable of seeing.