"It is not only colours and sounds and so on that are absent from the scientific world of matter, but also space as we get it through sight or touch. It is essential to science that its matter should be in a space, but the space in which it is cannot be exactly the space we see or feel. To begin with, space as we see it is not the same as space as we get it by the sense of touch; it is only by experience in infancy that we learn how to touch things we see, or how to get a sight of things which we feel touching us. But the space of science is neutral as between touch and sight; thus it cannot be either the space of touch or the space of sight."

[The Problems of Philosophy, Bertrand Russell, Chapter III]

How should I understand the bold text?

  • 1
    Can you give us some hints about why you are having trouble understanding this? (preferably with an edit to your question, not with comments down in the comment section)
    – J.R.
    Oct 22, 2018 at 15:15

1 Answer 1


we learn how to touch things we see This is similar to "we learn how to ride a bicycle". A child must learn how to co-ordinate its limbs in order to touch something. This is called hand-eye co-ordination.

how to get a sight of things which we feel touching us We learn to move our head or body in order to see what is touching us.

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