§6. Ego and Non-Ego 1)


332. The triad, feeling, volition, cognition, is usually regarded as a purely psychological division. Long series of carefully planned self-experiments, persistent and much varied, though only qualitative, have left me little doubt, if any, that there are in those elements three quite disparate modes of awareness. That is a psychological proposition; but that which now concerns us is not psychological, particularly; namely the differences between that of which we are aware in feeling, volition, and cognition. Feeling is a quality, but so far as there is mere feeling, the quality is not limited to any definite subject. We hear of a man whose mind is jaundiced. That phrase well expresses feeling without reason. Feeling also as such is unanalyzed. Volition is through and through dual. There is the duality of agent and patient, of effort and resistance, of active effort and inhibition, of acting on self and on external objects. Moreover, there is active volition and passive volition, or inertia, the volition of reform and the volition of conservatism. That shock which we experience when anything particularly unexpected forces itself upon our recognition (which has a cognitive utility as being a call for explanation of the presentment), is simply the sense of the volitional inertia of expectation, which strikes a blow like a water-hammer when it is checked; and the force of this blow, if one could measure it, would be the measure of the energy of the conservative volition that gets checked. Low grades of this shock doubtless accompany all unexpected perceptions; and every perception is more or less unexpected. Its lower grades are, as I opine, not without experimental tests of the hypothesis, that sense of externality, of the presence of a non-ego, which accompanies perception generally and helps to distinguish it from dreaming. This is present in all sensation, meaning by sensation the initiation of a state of feeling; — for by feeling I mean nothing but sensation minus the attribution of it to any particular subject. In my use of words, when an ear-splitting, soul-bursting locomotive whistle starts, there is a sensation, which ceases when the screech has been going on for any considerable fraction of a minute; and at the instant it stops there is a second sensation. Between them there is a state of feeling.

333. As for pleasure and pain, which Kant and others have represented to be of the essence of feeling, whether it be merely because they and the section of the psychological world for which at this moment I have the presumption to speak apply the word feeling to different modifications of awareness, or whether there be a faulty analysis on the one part or the other, we certainly do not think that unadulterated feeling, if that element could be isolated, would have any relation to pain or to pleasure. For in our opinion if there be any quality of feeling common to all pleasurable experiences or components of experience, and another one quality of feeling common to all that is painful (which we are inclined to doubt, to say the least), then we hold the opinion that the one is the feeling of being attracted, the other that of being repelled, by the present state of experience. If there be two such feelings, they are feelings of states of volition. But perhaps pleasure and pain are nothing more than names for the state of being attracted and that of being repelled by present experience. Of course, feelings accompany them, but under the latter hypothesis no feeling would be common to all pleasures, and none to all pains. If we are right, the position of the hedonists is preposterous, in that they make mere feelings to be active agencies, instead of being merely conscious indications of real determinations of our subconscious volitional beings. [I may mention that their talk (however it may be with their thought) is further preposterous as seeming to make pain a mere privation of pleasure, although it is plain that it is pain that indicates an active, and pleasure only a passive, determination of our volitional being.]

334. As for volition, I would limit the term in one way and extend it in another. I would limit it to the momentary direct dyadic consciousness of an ego and a non-ego then and there present and reacting each upon the other. In one, the action is generally more active, in the other more passive; but precisely what this difference consists in I do not feel sure. I think, however, that the will to produce a change is active, the will to resist a change is passive. All sensation is essentially, by its very definition, active. The objection to this is that, according to it, the voluntary inhibition of a reflex should not give a sense of effort; and probably the definition of the distinction between the sense of externality in willing and in perception requires a supplement or other slight modification on this account. But the important point [is] that the sense of externality in perception consists in a sense of powerlessness before the overwhelming force of perception. Now the only way in which any force can be learned is by something like trying to oppose it. That we do something like this is shown by the shock we receive from any unexpected experience. It is the inertia of the mind, which tends to remain in the state in which it is. No doubt there is a marked difference between the active and intentional volition of muscular contraction and the passive and unintentional volition that gives the shock of surprise and the sense of externality. But the two are to be classed together as alike modes of double consciousness, that is, of awareness, at once and in the same awareness, of an ego and a non-ego. . . .


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