3 questions about touch

Francois Quiviger francois at SAS.AC.UK
Sun Sep 28 18:31:54 UTC 1997

Dear Indologists,

I wonder whether anyone could help me with the following three
questions on the history of the sense of touch.

1. The standard Western conception of sensation, at least up to the 17th
century, is based on the Aristotelian formula that there is nothing in the
intellect which has not been been previously in the senses. Several
passages of the Upanishad suggest that Indian thought processed sensation
according to rather different parameters. But is there an Indian locus
classicus, a text comparable to Aristotle's *De Anima* in terms of
authority and influence?

2. To study touch I study objects intended to be touched. In this respect
Western rosaries provide remarkable evidence. I want to compare them to
Indian `rosaries', the type still sold on the Ghats in Benares; but is
there some reliable text dealing with their use and meaning.

3. Studying the history of touch is also studying the history of the
perception of the fingertips. In this context does anyone knows why and
since when Indian musicians count beats by touching the tip of their thumb
with the tip of their fingers?

                        With many thanks in advance.

                        Francois Quiviger
                        Warburg Institute
                        University of London

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