B. Secondness

§1. Feeling and Struggle 1)


322. The second category that I find, the next simplest feature common to all that comes before the mind, is the element of struggle.

This is present even in such a rudimentary fragment of experience as a simple feeling. For such a feeling always has a degree of vividness, high or low; and this vividness is a sense of commotion, an action and reaction, between our soul and the stimulus. If, in the endeavor to find some idea which does not involve the element of struggle, we imagine a universe that consists of a single quality that never changes, still there must be some degree of steadiness in this imagination, or else we could not think about and ask whether there was an object having any positive suchness. Now this steadiness of the hypothesis that enables us to think about it — and to mentally manipulate it — which is a perfectly correct expression, because our thinking about the hypothesis really consists in making experiments upon it — this steadiness, I say, consists in this, that if our mental manipulation is delicate enough, the hypothesis will resist being changed. Now there can be no resistance where there is nothing of the nature of struggle or forceful action. By struggle I must explain that I mean mutual action between two things regardless of any sort of third or medium, and in particular regardless of any law of action.

323. I should not wonder if somebody were to suggest that perhaps the idea of a law is essential to the idea of one thing acting upon another. But surely that would be the most untenable suggestion in the world considering that there is no one of us who after lifelong discipline in looking at things from the necessitarian point of view 2) has ever been able to train himself to dismiss the idea that he can perform any specifiable act of the will. It is one of the most singular instances of how a preconceived theory will blind a man to facts that many necessitarians seem to think that nobody really believes in the freedom of the will, the fact being that he himself believes in it when he is not theorizing. However, I do not think it worth while to quarrel about that. Have your necessitarianism if you approve of it; but still I think you must admit that no law of nature makes a stone fall, or a Leyden jar to discharge, or a steam engine to work.


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