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and so, in a purely mechanical way, more or less purposive move-
ments are set free in response to the stimulus. It is a disputed
point how far such " purposive " reflex-movements are accompanied
by consciousness ; but even if they are accompanied by a faint
consciousness (as appears to be the case in the foetus) they are
certainly not the fruit of conscious deliberation. Elementary
feelings and sensations may possibly be present, but they arc not
subjected to any further elaboration. The direct transition from
excitation to movement is, indeed, characteristic of reflex movement.
Reflex action is just as involuntary as spontaneous movement.

The simplest reflex movement would be one set up by a single
excitation. As soon as several excitations occur together, their
effect will turn upon the fact of the movements, which they
severally tend to bring about, harmonizing or not. If the excita-
tions have a tendency to set up movements not admitting of com-
bination, it becomes a question of which movement is the strongest ;
this, though somewhat weakened by opposition, will determine the
result. A frog, deprived of the cerebrum, croaks if its back is
gently stroked ; but if its hind leg is at the same time powerfully

1 Die Secle des Kindcs, p. 127, scq. (Eng. trans, i. ji. 201).


stimulated, it does hot croak. — The most effective inhibitions to
reflex movement come from the cerebrum. In the first years of
childhood, while this organ is as yet undeveloped, no reflex move-
ments are inhibited.

4. When the cerebrum has a share in determining movements,
there arises a spontaneity of a higher kind. Because of its wealth
in cells this organ can both subject the impulses which it receives
from without to a thorough elaboration, and initiate active
movements independently of the excitation of the moment. With
these movements consciousness is undoubtedly present.

In so far as a line can be drawn between reflex movement and
instinct, it must be by describing instinct as more complex, more
active, and more conscious than reflex movement. In instinctive
movements we seem to have a combined system of means directed
to an end that lies outside the individual's present field of
consciousness, and that he may not live to reahze. Instead
of the momentary discharge which we have in spontaneity and
elementary reflex movement, there is the direction of various
powers to a more or less distant end. Stimulus is required to set
instinct to work, but the action is determined far more by the
motor-tendencies implanted in the individual than by the nature
of the stimulus. This latter serves only as the opening of a valve.
This is why an animal is so easily deceived, as, ^._^., when an insect,
misled by the smell, lays its eggs on the " carrion plant." The
incentive is so strong that the excitation is subjected to no control.
In the case of an instinct meeting with obstacles, an impulse to
carry out the instinctive movement may be excited {cf. IV. 4 ;
VI. B. 2 c).

It is not quite clear whether or no instinct is linked with the
cerebrum. Already Flourens showed that the removal of the latter
causes the destruction of the feeding and the sexual instincts.
Goltz reports of several of his dogs that, after removal of consider-
able portions of the cerebral cortex, they no longer shrank with
disgust from eating dog's-flesh. But, on the other hand, there is
very clear evidence of instinct in creatures whose cerebrum is yet
undeveloped (as in the feeding instinct of new-born infants).
Hence it seems probable that instinctive movements may have
their source also in the mesencephalon (the corpora striata and
the optic thalami).^

Volition proper, on the other hand, is linked with the cerebrum.

1 Vulpian, Physiol, du Syst. Nerv., p. 692, scg.


Volition proper is characterized psychologically by the ideas of the
end of the action and the means to its realization, and by a
vivid feeling of the worth of that end. The phenomena of
volition are thus so closely connected with cognition and feeling
that to ascribe to them a separate scat would be to revive the
errors of phrenology. On this point the latest inquirers arc at one
(see 1L,4</). Not so, however, with respect to the initiation of
movement. If those investigators are right who assume motor-
centres in the cerebrum, then the transition from conscious to
motor organs takes place here ; those centres being necessary
media in directing the volition to the motor nerve-tracks.^ But
if those are right who, with Goltz, deny that motor-centres in the
cerebrum can be assumed, then that transition does not take place
till the tracks connecting the cerebrum and the lower parts of
the brain are reached- If for any reason the transition from
the will (or rather from the corresponding physiological processes)
to the motor nerve-tracks is interrupted, then there is incapacity
to carry out what is willed, although the will itself is not wanting.
In the slighter cases of aphasia (or better agraphia), which are not
accompanied by word-blindness, the patient sees the word before
him and endeavours to copy it, but writes it wrongly and is unable,
in spite of all his endeavours, to remedy the mistake. Motor-
presentations, and with them the possibility of an innervation of
the motor-centres, are completely lost {cf. above, p. 147? note).
Dogs which have been deprived of large portions of the front
brain are unable, although they try, to carry out the movements

5. The backward history (Vorgeschichte) of volition must needs
lead us beyond the limits of psychology, agreeably to the law
that the unconscious precedes the conscious. On the other hand,
the history will be properly understood only after acquaintance has
been made with the phenomena of the will in actual consciousness.
The psychological connection of will with the other conscious
elements must now be pointed out.

Psychologically, we speak of volition wherever wc arc conscious
of activity, and are not entirely receptive. But the psychology of
cognition and of feeling has shown that we never are purely

1 Wundt, i., p. 156, scg. (3rd ed. i. pp. 218, .rt-?.).— Panum, Ker-jci'&vcts Fysiologi
("The Physiology of the Nerve-tissue"), pp. 205. 223. , . .

2 Goltz in Pfliiger's Archiv, vol. 26, 1881, pp 36-37. ISIunk, Vberdit hunktionen ,ffr
Grossltimrini/r (" On tlic Functions of the Dur.i Mater"), p. 52.

3 Goltz in Pfliiger's Archiv, vol. 34, 1884, p. 475.


receptive. In all sensuous perception, in all thought and all
feeling, there is some activity on the part of the individual.
Absolute passivity would be reached only if it were possible to
represent consciousness as a series of single sensations with
passive after-effects. A single and passive sensation appears,
however, to be an abstraction, only approximately realized under
certain abnormal conditions. Now since it has been shown
to be the most essential feature of consciousness, that all the
individual elements and states are united through one synthetic
activity, it may be said that to volitional activity is due the
existence of consciousness itself. {Cf. II. 5 ; V. D. 5, 8 c). It is
not, then, correct to say that the will presupposes cognition and
feeling, for these latter, looked at from one side, are themselves
manifestations of will in the wider sense of the term.

The stronger the individual sensations and ideas are in them-
selves, the more does the volitional activity fall into the background.
Exclusive sensations have a tendency to bring about hypnotic
states. Bonnet has observed with justice, that if a being were
all its life to experience only one single sensation, and a sensation
unvarying in intensity, it would have no will at all. We may add
that such a being would have no consciousness either (see II. 5).
Only just in the instant when the sensation makes its appearance
would an elementary activity of will be excited, since the attention
would be turned to the excitation. No excitation occurs without
arresting the attention and calling forth more or less activity, which
contributes to the most clear and explicit apprehension possible of
the excitation. Together with the sensation, we notice more or less
\\\\% involuntary instinctive attentio7i ; in any case it helps to give
the momentary condition its special character.

Change among sensations affords an opening for a somewhat
higher form of volitional activity. When a new sensation emerges,
it is more or less welcome according to the relation which it bears
to preceding sensations. If it is in sharp opposition to them, or
for any other reason excites discomfort, the mind will strive to
repress it and to turn away from it. The contrary is the case, if
(as with complementary colours) it affords a welcome relief or for
any other reason brings about a feeling of pleasure. These move-
ments of pleasure and pain are naturally as a rule so slight, that
we are not clearly conscious of them ; and yet they determine in
every single case the manner in which things shall present them-
selves to us, since they lead to an involuntary selection, an eleinen-

VII] THE PSYCiioi,f)(;v of tiii: wii.i, 315

tnry choice (V. A. 7) among the emerging sensations. As plants
turn to the light, our perceptive faculties turn to that which excites
pleasure and interest, and away from that which excites pain.

The transition from in\nluntary to voluntary aftcn/ion and
choice is effected gradually in the course of the development of the
memory and of the free idea {cf. V. B.). The choice among
emerging sensations can then be determined by earlier experiences.
While involuntary attention has the character o{ instinct, voluntary
attention makes its appearance as an impulse, being guided by an
idea of that which it desires to perceive, and it is capable of
development into clearly-conscious, choosing, will. We may deter-
mine, for example, to follow certain melodies or a certain theme in
a piece of music, or to listen to the timbre of one single instrument.
The investigations into physiological time have shown how great
an influence strained attention may have on the rapidity of per-
ception, being even capable of anticipating the percept. The
difference between voluntary and involuntary attention lies in this,
that in the former the straining, the turning of the powers of the
mind in a certain direction is present before the stimulus, while in
the latter this straining is produced only by the stimulus itself.
Recognition (perception) naturally takes place more quickly and
easily when we have ready in consciousness a preliminary idea of
the phenomenon, and it is precisely the gathering of energy round
some one idea as the centre of association, that constitutes atten-
tion. The fusion of the sensation with the corresponding idea,
whence perception arises, thus takes place in inverse order in
voluntary and in involuntary attention. — We see in great measure
what we wish to see, and as a general rule are able to see only
what we wish. Hence the possibility of strokes of genius
and prophecies, as also of illusory interpretations of facts. The
originally sanguine tendency of human nature anticipates experi-
ence, and only gradually and often reluctantly accepts correction
from it. Fortunately experience has the power to open our eyes
and force us to see. But the activity of the will is always an
essential condition.

Voluntary attention (like apprehension in general) may also be
directed to mere ideas, memory-images or imaginations. The
endeavour to call forth and retain these is accompanied by a
feeling of effort, similar to that which we have in trying to observe
a dark object. This sensation appears, however, to be differently
localized. Fechner has called attention to the fact — which the e.x-


pcricnce of every individual will confirm — that while in voluntary
perception of external objects there is a feeling of tension in
the sense organ chiefly affected, this wholly vanishes when
memory or imagination becomes active, and appears as tension
and contraction in the skin of the head, and as pressure from
without inwards on the entire skull.' This muscular tension
is not, however, always present, and is not, in any case, the whole of
the physiological process connected with attention. It is possible
that impulses return from the centres with \\hich the voluntary
concentration of consciousness is linked, to the centres of sensuous
perception (as in other cases to motor-centres), in which way their
effect may be strengthened.^ This would be the physiological form
of the psychological fact that an idea becomes clearer if we give
ourselves up to picturing it. Some individuals can even call forth
voluntary hallucinations. Finally, Carpenter has tried to establish
the theory that in attention as in all volitional activity there is a
pressure of blood on the organ whose function is strengthened.
In the endeavour to retain an idea or a train of thought, this in-
creased pressure of blood would occur in certain parts of the cerebrum
(ideational hyperaemia). The influence which all stir of feeling
has on the circulation of the blood is in favour of this view. In all
volition there is in fact some stir of feeling.^

An activity of will is present not least in the retention of the con-
nection between our ideas and in all thought. This activity is
necessary to prevent purely fortuitous associations of ideas from
taking the lead in the arrangement of the elements of con-
sciousness. As a waking is distinguished from a sleeping state
by the stronger "latent innervation" which prevents the body from
falling into positions determined purely by gravity, so a waking is
distinguished from a dreaming consciousness by the more or less
conscious direction of all thoughts to a single end. In its most
primitive form this end is the knowledge of the external world,
as a means to the maintenance of existence. But even at the
highest stages of mental development, a purpose and a feeling
aroused by this purpose rule the course of thought. The more

1 Eleinente der Psychopliysik, ii., pp. 475, 491. The expression of a person sunk in
thought is especially remarkable for the undetermined direction of the eyes : their lines of
vision are often even divergent on account of the relaxation of certain muscles consequent
on the concentration of tension on other organs. The head is usually sunk, equally on
account of muscular relaxation. Darwin, Expr. of Eiiiot., 2nd ed., p. 239.

* Wundt, i., p. 218 seg. (3rd ed. i.,p. 233 seg.). — Kussmaul, Die Storungen der Sprache,
p. 187.

3 Mental Physiology, p. 382, seg


such a mental centre of gravity (the real self, cf. \' . />'. 5) is
wanting, the more disconnected will consciousness become, until
at last it will be resolved into momentarily changing ideas.

In involuntary as in voluntary attention, feeling and will act
in immediate conjunction. Several of the phenomena coming
under the present head might, therefore, have been dealt with
in the chapter on the psychology of feeling. The unity of mental
life becomes evident here, when we consider the importance of
attention in sensuous perception and thought, the intimate union
of the feeling and the will, and the union, deeper than all association
between ideas, of the feeling and the idea.

(^a. P.efore tracing further the development of the will in its
interaction with cognition and feeling, we must note how the
will gradually brings bodily movements under its control. This
is the first important course of training for the will, and is
so important that jnotor-iikas have e\en been considered as
essential elements of all conscious volition. To all appearance
action is always outwardly directed ; but there is constantly pre-
supposed an itnier action^ a determining of the ideas by the
thought of the end. The thought of the end is thus the most im-
portant element, and it becomes only a special, if a frequent, case,
when the thought of the end attracts and determines motor-ideas.

The condition for the formation of motor-ideas, is that move-
ments shall be made, which are felt. As has been seen, the
organism does not wait for external incentives to set it in motion ;
it is itself a little world with the power of creating incentives from
within. Spontaneous and reflex movements are the material
which serves as the basis of the motor-ideas. By involuntary in-
centive we are thus led to acquire the experiences necessary for the
development of the externally directed will.

As the psychology of cognition begins with the sensation, so
the psychology of the will ends with the nioior-impuhe. .Only
indirectly do we learn what precedes the sensation — the trans-
mission, namely, of the physical excitation from the object to
our sense-organ, and thence through the nerve-fibres to the brain—
and what succeeds the motor-impulse — the transmission, namely,
of the physiological process corresponding to the act of volition,
through the central motor-organs and nerves, to the muscles,
together with the changes in the extcinal world produced by
muscular movements.

In the most primitive expressions of the will the distinction be-


tween sensation and motor-impulse does not yet appear. Reflex
movements and instinctive actions are characterized by the fact
that the excitation immediately sets up movement ; a sensation
may, indeed, be felt, and also a feeling of pleasure or pain together
with a certain disquiet (especially if the movement is not at once
executed or meets with obstacles) ; but memory, and consequently
motor-memories, play no part, A motor-impulse presupposes the
memory of executed movement. This may be either the tnctnory
of the appearance of the movement or a motor-idea proper (repro-
duction of the motor-sensation).! If the movement has had un-
favourable, painful consequences, its memory-image will be
associated with pain, which may prevent the repetition of the
movement when the same state of consciousness reappears. On
the other hand there will be a tendency to the repetition of move-
ments, the execution and consequences of which were attended
with pleasure.

If attention is turned to a motor-idea when we are already pre-
disposed to execute the movement, we accomplish it quickly and
easily. This pre-disposition or internal prcparatio7i^ — by means of
which a movement is, as it were, adopted or fixed in consciousness,
since we become absolutely one with the motor-idea and the cor-
responding feeling, — does not admit of more minute description.
It is the fundamental element in the consciousness of an intended
movement, and can be known only by direct introspection, as is the
case generally with the internal process by which we call out and
retain an idea or a train of thought. As in memory I identify
myself with the self that experienced an event in the past, so the
decisive act of volition consists in the thought of my present self
as acting in a certain manner in a more or less distant future.
While memory is directed to the past, is va^awXy passiiie perception^
the act of volition is directed to the future, is mainly active per-

The will and the motor-impulse are not entirely coincident, but
the latter is an element of the former when the act of volition con-
cerns an externally directed movement, just as the impulse to think,
i.e. the incentive to set up a certain series of ideas, is in thought
proper an element of the volition [cf. V. B. 1 1). I will to see a definite
object, and therefore direct my eyes to it ; but the impulse to move
the eyes need not appear as something independent beside the will

1 As already mentioned (VII. A. 4), memories of the appearance of movements may
lie preserved, although motor-ideas proper have dropt out.


to see the object. And similarly, when the will aims at following a
train of ideas ; the impulse to stir up each separate member of this
train docs not appear as something independent beside the will to
think of the thing as a whole, except, indeed, where special
difficulties have to be overcome. When the movement necessary
to the attainment of an end meets with opposition, it may become
the object of express volition.

The intended movement is often carried out without either impulse
or volition stirring at the moment of its accomplishment. Thus the
investigations into physiological time have proved that if prepara-
tion is made to execute a certain movement at a given signal, the
movement comes involuntarily, no time being required to set it up,
and no fresh volition being necessary. Conversely it takes some
time to undo that state of preparation, or, as it were, to annul the first
volition ; and if the signal occurs before this is accomplished, the
movement may be set up with or without our will. It may happen,
for example, that a signal expected with strained attention is kept
back, and the person making the experiment turns round im-
patiently to see if the apparatus is out of order ; that then the signal
sounds, and the movement previously intended but now given up
simultaneously takes place.^ The preparation for the movement
still takes effect, although the act of will has given way. By thus
preparing, in the event of a given signal, to carry out a certain
movement, the person making the experiment puts himself in a
condition analogous to that of an animal guided by instinct, or to
that which moves an individual to obey commands received in a
state of somnambulism and afterwards entirely forgotten.

{d) Nature paves the way for our volition. But she gives us at
once too much and too little. The original spontaneous movement
is strong ; but it has to be guided into a definite direction, and
modified in degree and form, before it can serve for our purposes.
In involuntary movements several muscles are set in activity at
once. It then becomes sometimes important to resolve these
conjoint movements, and to form instead of them other complex
movements, so that a process of selection is carried on, which leads
partly to isolation, partly to combination of movements.

In this way the voice organs are at first involuntarily moved, as
the child gives vent to its dissatisHiction or to its satisfaction. Of
the sounds thus produced, it is especially those which showed

1 Sigin. Exiier, E.xperimenteUe Utitersnchtins: n tier iinfiichsttn psychischen J'ro-
s<;jitr (Pfli'igcr's .-Jn:/;/:'. 1883), p. 616, stq.



themselves conducive to pleasant effects, that are afterwards re-
tained. This is the child's first language, succeeded by the
period in which it tries to imitate what it hears. Similarly with
many other movements of the body ; at first they are produced in-
voluntarily and at random, but afterwards are either retained and
repeated or inhibited and suppressed. At first no reflex movements
are inhibited, but education represses them more and more (as
when a child becomes accustomed to cleanliness). The little child,
whose cerebrum has as yet no active influence, lacks the central
controlling apparatus which is the condition of self-restraint. The
development of voluntary movement presupposes a certain de-
velopment of ideas, consequently also of the brain.

A child undertakes many movements wholly instinctively, as
soon as it has the strength for them. According to Preyer, a
child sucks, bites, smacks its lips, chews, and licks, just as
instinctively as a chicken picks up corn and insects. The same
holds good in great measure of sitting, standing, creeping,
walking and running. Imitation plays even here a subordinate
part ; at the most it serves as an encouragement. Even a child
who had never seen any one crawl or walk would execute these
movements as soon as it had strength enough.^ Movements are
really willed only when they are made with a definite intention
and directed to a definite end. The earliest and most important
examples of this are the movements of grasping, where the desire
to take possession of an object causes a movement of the hand
towards it and its seizure.

The limits to the isolation and combination of movements, lie
in the nature of the organism. There are conjoint movements
which cannot be resolved, and independent movements which
cannot be combined. — The extent to which practice and accommo-
dation can go may be seen from the Siamese twins, whose bodies

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