Once introduced, the notion of sensation distorts the entire analysis of perception. As we have said, a “figure” on a “background” already contains much more than the currently given qualities. It has “contours” that do not “belong” to the background and that “stand out” from it; it is “stable” and of a “dense” color, while the background is limitless and of an uncertain color; and the background “continues” beneath the figure. The different parts of the whole – such as the parts of the figure closest to the background – thus possess, beyond a color and some qualities, a particular sense. The question is what makes up this sense, what do the words “border” and “contour” mean, and what happens when a collection of qualities is apprehended as a figure on a background? And yet once sensation is introduced as an element of knowledge, it leaves us no choice in our response. A being who could sense – that is, coincide absolutely with an impression or with a quality – could have no other mode of knowledge. That a quality, such as a red area, signifies something, that it is, for example, grasped as a patch on a background, means that the red is no longer merely this warm, experienced, 14and lived color in which I lose myself;1 rather, it announces some other thing without containing that thing, it sets an epistemic function to work, and its parts together make up a whole to which each is related without leaving its place. The red is, from now on, no longer merely present to me, but rather represents something for me, and what it represents is not possessed as a “real part” of my perception, but is merely aimed at as an “intentional part.”2 My gaze does not merge into the contour or the patch in the same way it merges into the red taken materially; rather, it glances over them or dominates them. For the punctual sensation to receive a signification into itself that truly penetrates it, to integrate itself into a “contour” linked to the group of the “figure” and independent of the “background,” it would have to cease being an absolute coincidence and, consequently, cease being a sensation at all. If we accept a classical understanding of “sensing,” then the signification of the sensible can no longer consist in anything other than present or virtual sensations. Seeing a figure can be nothing other than the simultaneous possession of its component punctual sensations. Each punctual sensation always remains what it is: a blind contact, an impression. The group makes itself into a “vision” and forms a scene before us because we learn to shift more quickly from one impression to the next. A contour is nothing but a sum of isolated visions and the consciousness of a contour is a collective being. The sensible elements that make up this collective being cannot lose the opacity that defines them as sensible in order to open themselves up to an intrinsic connection or to a common law of constitution.