Page:Psychology and preaching.djvu/219

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VOLUNTARY ACTION 2OI

tion in the freedom of the human personality and that our freedom may be both intensively and extensively developed to greater potentiality.

It is important for those who seek to persuade men to action to acquire as definite a conception as possible of the relation of emotion to voluntary action. If we recall the conditions which cover the origin and intensity of feeling, we shall realize that it must play an important role in the voluntary process. The old view was that feeling gave rise to action, was the spring which set off the voluntary process. Certain psychologists have now reacted to an almost dia metrically opposite view of their relation. According to these writers the conative tendency, i.e., the tendency to action, is original and primary; feeling is a resultant and has really no important function in the origination or con trol of action. It is simply the tone of the organic experi ence, an accompaniment, and, while it is important in the valuation of the experience, is no more the impelling cause or occasion of action than the shadow of a walking man is the cause or spring of his movement.

The truth seems to lie midway between these extreme views. We may grant that the feeling does not first come into existence and then precipitate action or impel the or ganism to move. Action may have its ultimate genesis in the nature of the organism as a constitutional tendency to action. I grant that the tendency to act is the essential nature of an organism and that the stimuli of the environ ment only evoke or liberate or " set off " this tendency. But every stimulation of the organism, certainly every one that is registered in consciousness, evokes a two-fold response one physical, the other psychical ; one a nervous excitation which tends to issue in a muscular contraction, the other a state of consciousness. Again, the state of consciousness which thus arises also has two aspects, a double " intention " one objective, the other subjective. That is, the con sciousness will focalize upon an object, whether it be a thing of sense or an idea ; and at the same time it develops an in-

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