Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/235

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


struction were being resisted; so that the reaction which pain is supposed to cause must already be taking place before pain can be felt. A will without direction cannot be thwarted; so that inhibition cannot be the primary source of any effort or of any ideal. Determinate impulses must exist already for their inhibition to have taken place or for the pain to arise which is the sign of that inhibition. The child’s dread of the fire marks the acceleration of that impulse which, when he was burned, originally enabled him to withdraw his hand; and if he did not now shrink in anticipation he would not remember the pain nor know to what to attach his terror. Sight now suffices to awaken the reaction which touch at first was needed to produce; the will has extended its line of battle and thrown out its scouts farther afield; and pain has been driven back to the frontiers of the spirit. The conflicting reactions are now peripheral and feeble; the pain involved in aversion is nothing to that once involved in the burn. Had this aversion to fire been innate, as many aversions are, no pain would have been caused, because no profound maladjustment would have occurred. The surviving attraction, checked by fear, is a remnant of the old disorganisation in the brain which was the seat of conflicting reactions.

To say that this conflict is the guide to its own issue is to talk without thinking. The conflict is the sign of inadequate organisation, or of