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Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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Habit accustoms us to everything. What we see too much, we no longer imagine; and it is only imagination which makes us feel the ills of others. It is thus by dint of seeing death and suffering that priests and doctors become pitiless.
--
Book IV

 
Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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Would I if I could by pushing a button would I kill five thousand Chinamen if I could save my brother from anything. Well I was very fond of my brother and I could completely imagine his suffering and I replied that five thousand Chinamen were something I could not imagine and so it was not interesting.
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You imagine that what you can't understand is either spiritual or does not exist. The conclusion is quite wrong; rather there are obviously a million things in the universe that we would need a million quite different organs to understand. For example, I perceive by my senses what makes a magnet point north, what makes tides rise and fall, and what becomes of an animal after death. Your people are not proportioned to perceive such miracles, just as someone blind from birth cannot imagine the beauty of a landscape, the colors of a painting or the shadings of an iris. He will imagine them as something palpable, edible, audible or olfactory. Likewise, if I were to explain to you what I perceive by the senses you do not have, you would interpret it as something that could be heard, seen, touched, smelled or tasted; but it is not like that.

 
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