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will. It leads us into a tissue of psychological processes impossible
to disentangle and survey. We must be content to discover cer-
tain guiding points of view ; and (referring to previous sections
for what relates to elementary phenomena) we shall here treat
chiefly of the way in which the more highly developed will can
exercise a determining and guiding effect upon cognition and

(a) The reaction of the will upon cognition.

As with externally directed movement, so also with the activity
of ideation and thought, nature helps us forward before we our-
selves play a conscious part. The involuntary activity forms the
basis and the content of the voluntary. The will is in no way
creative, but only modifying and selective. — Of this we will adduce
some examples.

(i) As already shown, we work our way out through numerous
deceptions to the apprehension of reality. Prejudices, passions,
and imperfect observations, lead us easily astray. Besides, there
may sometimes arise involuntary hallucinations and illusions,
with which, if the mind is otherwise sound at bottom, a hard
struggle will be fought. Thus a patient once strove for twenty-
seven years against hallucinations which tempted him to attack
others. Even his best friends suspected nothing until the day
when he declared himself vanquished, and took refuge in a lunatic
asylum. — Conversely, some persons have the power of intentionally
calling up hallucinations ; but it often happens to them as to
Goethe's Zauberlehrlitig ("Apprentice Magician"), that the
phantoms gain power over them and will not be again dis-

The flow of memories and ideas is subject to definite laws. If
certain ideas can be intentionally produced or excluded, this is
only by means of these same laws, just as it is only by means
of its laws that external nature can be modified and made to serve
our purposes. The condition of an intervention of the will in the
flow of ideas, is that a searching, an interest, must come into play.
If it is a question of checking or excluding an idea, this can be
effected only indirectly, according to the " laws of obliviscence "
(V. B. 8 d). If it is a question of calling up an idea, a need
must first be excited, a wish or an impulse to have the idea must
be stirred, which involves an indefinite idea of its place or its
connection with other ideas. If of two ideas, a and b, standing

1 Brierre de Boismont, Da Hallucinations, 3rd ed., pp. 27, 427, scq., 525.


in connection with one another, /' disappears or is even unknown
to us, although we observe that tliere is a place which must be
filled up, then the concentration of attention upon a will make it
the centre of association (VI. F. i) : the ideas associated more or
less closely with a, will then rise up, and be persistently rejected,
until one is presented which stands in the precise relation to a of
the idea required. The will gives the first impetus and acts as
an auger, to use (loldschmidt's striking expression,' but once a hole
is bored, the water must flow out by virtue of its own force, and it
only remains to us to compare what breaks out with what is
sought for.

The influence of the will upon the ideas is manifested, like its
influence on the bodily movements, in the two forms of isola-
tion and combination. Partly a dissolution of the involuntary
combinations of ideas, partly a formation of new combinations,
may take place. The elaboration which ideas must undergo in
order to become concepts, is effected in both ways.

This " boring " and voluntary intervention may be necessary, but
does not always bring about so valuable a result as do involuntary
suggestions. Intentional thoughts and images have, as a rule,
a more abstract and paler character than those which emerge
" of themselves.'' The thought is most successful which " carries
us away."

(2) In an ethical connection it is of great importance that the
thoughts and ideas on which the conduct of life is based should
be made the subject of repeated observation and reflection.'- In
this way they obtain a firmer hold in consciousness, and are
consequently more easily recalled in all the changing relations
of life, and with more difficulty suppressed by the impressions and
passions of the moment. At the same time they gain in clearness
and connectiveness, and so become better adapted to control

(3) Not only does the will thus obtain in particular cases direct
or individual influence upon the course of ideas, but moreover the
development of the will in general reacts upon the thought,
strengthening and modifying it. A firm resolve, carried out
with decision and without hesitation, clears up the whole
mental atmosphere and scatters the clouds which dim the clear-
ness of thought ; it makes one single idea the central point of

1 Goldschmidt, Erindrine^er ("Memories"),!., p. 183, seq.

2 Cf. J.imcs Sully, " On Some Elements of Moral Self-Culture" {inhiswork6^«w/«"i
and Intuition, London, 1874).


consciousness, and obliges all other ideas to give way before
this one, or to subordinate themselves to it. Hence arises a firm
and systematic connection of consciousness. Sequence of thought
and firmness of character are closely related. — And only through
firm volition is actual self-consciousness possible. What is ex-
pressed in the unity and the continuity of memory, and in
immediate feeling of self, is completed in the act of will, in
which all elements of consciousness co-operate with concentrated
force. In our resolves and acts of will, the real unity of our
" self" (V. B. 5) is most strikingly manifested ; in them we learn
to know ourselves most clearly and best.

{b) The reaction of will upoti feeling.

It might seem as though involuntary rise and development
were so characteristic of feeling, that no intervention of the will
would be conceivable in it. The activity of the will is more
indirect here than even in the flow of ideas, and its scope is quite
certainly also more limited and conditional. There is, however,
great theoretical and practical interest in seeing what paths are
open to it.

(i) Even if we cannot prevent a feeling from arising, we may
possibly prevent it from spreading, by inhibiting the organic move-
ment which accompanies it, and indulgence in which augments it.
The art of self-control consists principally in such inhibition, since
it cannot deal immediately with the feeling at its first stage. On
the other hand, the concealment of a feeling may cause it to
penetrate deeper into the nature of an individual. The result in
any given case depends on the person's character, but in the long
run, to check the indulgence and expression of the feeling will
always have a weakening influence.

Conversely, we may excite a feeling by first adopting the attitude
proper to it, by putting on the correct expression and making the
proper movements. Savages excite themselves for battle by violent
dances. Participation in outer ceremonies may lead, according to
Pascal's view, to real conversion. The frame of mind is certainly
different in clenching and in folding the hands, in holding out
the arms and in crossing them. A forcible contrast is especially
apparent between the mood during muscular tension and that dur-
ing muscular relaxation. — It is in this way that hypnotized persons
can be put by the experimenter in different frames of mind.^

1 Carpenter, Mtntal Physiology, pp. 602-605. Preyer, Die Eiitdcckiine' des Hy/>HO-
tismiis, pp. 36-41, 35.


Campanella maintained that the feelings of others might be clearly
entered into by imitating their ways and movements. A visitor,
who called on him when he was writing a letter, found him with
the precise expression of countenance of the man to whom he was

(2) Change in external conditions of life may prevent the birth
of many feelings, or at any rate deprive them of sustenance. The
power of customs and institutions rests on the influence of the con-
ditions of life, and political reforms are indirect reforms of the life
of feeling. Even our every-day habits and surroundings are often
in this respect of great importance. By bringing ourselves under
certain definite conditions, we may further or prevent the birth of
certain feelings. Much which the will cannot aim at directly is
attained, if we so pledge ourselves as to be unable afterwards to get
free. There is a mental just as much as a bodily hygiene.

(3) If the feeling cannot be modified in these ways, the diversion
of the attention to another end may succeed. But if this is to be
effected by personal endeavour, it is a necessary condition that the
feeling of the moment shall not occupy the entire consciousness.
The will cannot " bore " without definite points of departure ; and
the first condition is therefore that there shall be a searching, a
"hunger and thirst." If a man is wholly absorbed in his present
state, if he " laughs and is full" (St. Luke vi. 25), there is no motive
for a new feeling. The individual may, however, sometimes have
the desire for a change of feeling, but not be able to take
measures to effect it without help ; thus Lichtenberg desired
"the first differential of impetus" to enable him to master his

The feelings whose motive can be given by exertion of the
will, all belong of course to the ideal feelings. The effort of the will
develops feeling by means of the laws of association of ideas,
through which it becomes possible for one new idea, retained
in spite of its opposition to the powerful feeling, to be succeeded
presently by others. The feelings which are most easily re-
membered and suffer least by repetition, are also those which
are most easily produced by way of inner effort. Through their
great versatility, ideas become instruments in the service of the
will ; what I make my constant thought will gradually determine
my feeling also. It is of course true of such feelings, as of the

1 Vita Cavipanelltr, .\utore E. S. Cypriano, Amstelod, 1722, p. 48 ; ^ also Burke, On
the Sublime and licautifid, part iv. , sect. 4; Fechner, I'erichuU tier .-Estintik, i.,
p. 156, iz-i^.


ideas generated by voluntary effort, that they do not easily become
so vivid as those which arise involuntarily.

In order to obtain control over feeling, we must utilize the
intervals between strong emotions. Education must in this
respect necessarily precede self-education, and even after the
matter has been taken into our own hands we need frequent aids
(differentials of impetus) to prevent our sinking back.

(4) A clear insight into its causes reacts upon the feeling, clear-
ing it up and modifying it. The very endeavour to understand the
ruling feeling will enable me to confront it with more freedom.
— A feeling has as a rule an indefiniteness, which is a part of
its power, and which may vanish before clear knowledge, as
spectres before the light of day. — The need experienced by feeling
for explanation and justification leads, as has been seen (VI.
F. 4 c), to whole theories and hypotheses being developed and
elaborated ; when clear perception has acquired sufficient influence
for the vanity of such theories to appear, this reacts upon the feel-
ing. It is principally, however, insight into the causes of the feel-
ing that is of great importance. It is a general experience that
sorrow is lessened by a conviction of its inevitableness. Most
of all is the knowledge of causes effective with feelings such as
hypochondria, which cherish illusions and suspicions. Kant became
master of the hypochondria "which in his early years bordered on
weariness of life," through the knowledge that it resulted from his
flat and narrow chest. "The oppression remains" he says,i "for its
cause lies in my bodily structure. But I have become master of its
influence upon my thoughts and actions by diverting the attention
from it, as though it did not concern me at all." Lichtenberg
relates that during his nervous illness he felt better when he put his
fingers in his ears, because he then regarded the pathological
buzzing as artificially produced.

Once knowledge leads to the conviction of an unalterable system
of things in which we, with all our desires and cares, are so
interwoven that its laws are the laws also of our life, then the road
to resignation is paved. There are men who, instead of being daily
sensible of "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune," abandon
themselves once for all, with Spinoza and Goethe, to resignation.
" Such men are convinced of an eternal and necessary order, and try
to frame conceptions which are invulnerable, and not to be upset

i in the little work, Von der Macht des Gemiiths, durch den Blossen Vorsatz seiner
Krankhafien CefUhle Meisterzu sein ("On the Power of the Mind to master Patho-
logical Feelings by the Exercise of Mere Resolution"), (Kehrbach's ed., p. 26).


but rather confirmed by the thought of the transitory."' The
character of such a resignation may be that of despair, of trust,
of humour, or of meLincholy.

(r) Through its influence on cognition and feeling, the ivill reacts
upon itself. Ideas and feelings are the motives of the will, and
according to the view just given, it is possible for the motives to
become themselves objects of the will. In this sense will itself
can be willed. — So it can, too, in the sense that it can be made
an aim to encourage the power of forming resolutions, of putting
an end to internal debate and deliberation. — Finally, the willing of
the will may also mean, to will the firm retention and execution of
the resolve, not permitting later moods to upset it. This applies
chiefly to cases where the end selected involves the employment of
a whole series of means, a variety of single actions ; a is willed,
and consequently also b, c, and d, and the carrying out of all
these secondary resolutions will be possible only by the firm
retention of the mam resolution, while the motives which might
lead in other directions are repressed.

The will can never be regarded as self-contained or as having
an absolute beginning. It is impossible to show a point where
receptivity, passivity, yields wholly to activity, or vice versa. No
psychological dissecting knife, however sharp and however skilfully
handled, could light upon a line dividing the attractive power of
imagination and of feeling from voluntary suggestion. The relation
of the two sides may var)' to infinity, but neither of them can
wholly vanish. When it is said in Goethe's Fischer, " Half she
drew him down and half he sank," the duality is repeated in the
second term, for to sink is to let oneself sink. Here, then, is
neither first nor last, but a relation of infinite interaction, between
action and suffering.-

3. Relation of opposition between the will and the other elements
of consciousness.

The higher development of volition is possible only through
the influence of cognition and of feeling. In the course of
the transition from lower to higher forms of will, there may,
however, in consequence of a want of harmony between the
different elements of consciousness, be breaks and gaps. In the
main the general law of inhibition operates here (II. 4 t, 6 ^; V'll.
A. 3), since sensations, ideas, and feelings, which are unable to

1 Aus Meinem Leben, book 16. Spinoza, Eth. v., 20, Schol. (cf. also Dc JntelUcXut
Emeniiatione, at the beginning).
-' Cf. V. A. 7 ; B. II. VI. C. 8 ; F. 1.



merge witli the given motive to action, tend to supplant and
suppress it.

When children learn to walk, self-confidence is an important
help. An action is more easily executed when there is a strong
conviction that it will succeed. The sanguineness with which all
conscious life begins, is an expression of the instinct of self-
preservation, and makes it possible for the action to absorb the
full attention. All reflection and all doubt is crippling, and in any
case introduces a period during which the energy is diffused and
divided. A child may be able to walk fast, when it is not spoken
to, but will totter and fall, when other impressions distract its
attention. The will must, from its nature, be always limited. Its
object is one single, definite thing, and thoughts and feelings
linked to other things must always have a more or less crippling
effect. This is why new intuitions, opening up wider spheres and
horizons, often cause a falling off of energy, so that there comes
to be an inverse relation between range and strength. If strength
alone is considered, then instinct and authority appear manifestly
the first of the forces in determining the will. With direct assur-
ance they point out the way ; the future almost loses the stamp of
possibility. Elucidation and reflection, on the other hand, involve
a constant danger, since they divide and dissipate the interest and
the energy, and rob the individual of his absolute confidence and his
refuge within a limited horizon. It becomes a question whether the
instinctive will can become a reasonable will of equal energy,
as in the life of feeling it is a question of developing the ideal
feelings to the degree of strength possessed by the physical. Some
people hold that the negro has retrograded since his emancipation,
and from the same cause must be explained much distrust in the
effect of religious and political freedom.

This throws a light also on what seems to be a fact, namely, that
suicide becomes more frequent as civilization advances, as freedom
and clearness of understanding increase. Instinct and impulse do
not weigh the value of life, such a weighing takes place only after
reflection has been roused, and there is no pledge that the result
will be favourable. The more a life of thought and feeling grows
up independent of the action of the will, there will also arise a
relaxation and enervation such as was called in the Middle Ages
acedia {animi reinissio, mentis enervaiio), by which was understood
a melancholy making the mind heavy and hindering action. This
was nuniljcred among the cardinal sins as a contrast to hope,


which was reckoned one of the cardinal virtues. In modern times
this description of feeling has certainly not become more rare, and
where opposition is met with, it readily leads to the striking of a
parley. It arises very naturally in periods of transition, during
which instinct and authority have lost their commanding influence,
and no new basis has as yet been found, — As a matter of course,
the individual temperament plays here a great part. Where it is,
to begin with, of a passive character with a special disposition to
the feeling of pain, there is a greater liability to the transition from
instinct to reflection. Some natures more than others are disposed
to introspection and self-reflection.. Their ideas then pass easily
from the object of impulse and of interest to the observation of the
probable effect upon their feeling of the attainment of this object
{cf. VII. B. I a). For example, instead of finding pleasure in
working at a definite task, they worry over the question whether
the solution of the problem would really make them happier.
Stuart Mill had to pass through a crisis of this kind in his youth,
and drew the conclusion that " those only are happy who have
their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness.
.... The only chance is to treat, not happiness, but some end
external to it as the purpose of life."^ This self-forgetfulness, which
is a matter of course where instinct predominates, and is easily
arrived at wherever traditional ideas and types take possession of
the mind without having their force weakened by doubt or criticism,
is attained to with more difficulty in periods of transition, when
everything is tested and subjected to reflection.

Shakespeare's Hamlet is the celebrated type of such a state of
transition. In him the poet has described his own thoughts and
feelings and those of his own age ; but he has set his hero in an
age when purgatory was believed in, and the blood-feud was a
duty. Even if this merely results from his preserving the frame-
work and outlines of the old story, with a change of character in
the principal figure, still Hamlet, as presented in the tragedy,
betrays a life of thought and feeling incompatible with the task
given him. The Amleth of the old legend handed down to us by
Saxo has no scruples, although he acts carefully enough. He
carries out each step of his involved plans with firmness, guided
by the instinct of self-preservation and the impulse of revenge.
Hamlet has the wisdom and the parts of Amleth but not his

1 John Stuart Mill, Autobiography, p. 142.


decision, though he is far more favourably placed for action, as
he himself allows when he says

" I have cause and will and strength and means
To do't."

What is only suggested in Orestes (by ^schylus and, very
characteristically, rather more strongly by Euripides), namely, a
hesitation and wavering of resolution, constitutes Hamlet's whole
character. Want of energy and incapacity of resolution cannot,
indeed, be attributed to him ; for he shows presence of mind enough
on several occasions ; but there is a duality in his nature, a
disposition to lose himself in reflections and feelings, excited
indeed by his situation and his task, but leading him far from
thence, and consuming a portion of the energy, which in Amleth
and Orestes are immediately available for action. This he says

" Thus conscience does make cowards of us all ;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought."

Hamlet is justly regarded as the representative of the modern
youth, in so far as it is characteristic of this age for reflection to
be roused and to be turned with inquiry and criticism to instinct
and authority. The problem is whether a new decision can be
acquired in place of that lost.

It is originally in the proper interest of the will and of action
that an interval should be established between the first rise of the
motive and the resolve. In fact, consciousness itself arises only
when the excitation ceases to set up immediate movement (see
IV. 4, 6). During the interval the motives may be tried one with
another, so that the innermost nature of the mind may determine
the action. This play of possibility may, however, exercise a power,
alluring or distressing, over the mind, so as to absorb it without
letting it come to resolution and action. This way madness lies.
" As long as emotion preserves its original energetic character, it
but seldom leads to madness, because it exercises the understand-
ing and the will to the utmost and so keeps them both in the path
of reasonableness. Passive emotion only, which is reduced to an
empty longing, vain desire, foolish hope, or cowardly denial, is
the root of madness." ^ A special variety of the insane temperament

1 Ideler, Diographieen Geisteskranker^ p. 156.


(the vacillating or self-tormenting variety) appears in the subjection
of the simplest actions, in the normal state executed quite
mechanically, to endless reflection and doubt.'

It is therefore needful to turn back from the world of possibilities
to that circumscribed by circumstances. This limitation and nar-
rowing calls for a resignation. To will is to bind ourselves to some-
thing quite definite. Reflection therefore, however many winding
paths it may strike into, must ultimately lead back to a simple
starting point given immediately in our own nature ; it is a question
of grasping something which lies close at hand. Expansion must
be succeeded by concentration. It has been already said by
Aristotle "that if a man goes on deliberating for ever he will never
come to a conclusion" — and "we always stop in our inquiry how
to do a thing, when we have traced back the chain of causes to
ourselves.'"- If the will is not diseased, it must be possible to find
such a principle or beginning ((ipx"?)- '^^e misery of the doubter
and dreamer is that he never can trace back to hiqiself. ^

A discord between the will and the other sides of consciousness
may equally well arise through the will being developed to an
undue degree of strength, without preserving the natural interaction
with thought and feeling. A contrast to Hamlet is found in Don
Quixote, whose zeal to labour and fight for what is good, and to

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