As you are aware, no perceptions obtained by the senses are merely sensations impressed on our nervous systems. A peculiar intellectual activity is required to pass from a nervous sensation to the conception of an external object, which the sensation has aroused. The sensations of our nerves of sense are mere symbols indicating certain external objects, and it is usually only after considerable practice that we acquire the power of drawing correct conclusions from our sensations respecting the corresponding objects.
"On the Physiological Causes of Harmony" (1857), p. 81
There is a kind, I might almost say, of artistic satisfaction, when we are able to survey the enormous wealth of Nature as a regularly ordered whole a kosmos, an image of the logical thought of our own mind.Hermann Von Helmholtz
The last decades of scientific development have led us to the recognition of a new universal law of all natural phenomena, which, from its extraordinarily extended range, and from the connection which it constitutes between natural phenomena of all kinds, even of the remotest times and the most distant places, is especially fitted to give us an idea of what I have described as the character of the natural sciences, which I have chosen as the subject of this lecture.Hermann Von Helmholtz
The quantity of force which can be brought into action in the whole of Nature is unchangeable, and can neither be increased nor diminished.Hermann Von Helmholtz
In speaking of the work of machines and of natural forces we must, of course, in this comparison eliminate anything in which activity of intelligence comes into play. The latter is also capable of the hard and intense work of thinking, which tries a man just as muscular exertion does.Hermann Von Helmholtz