Page:Vocation of Man (1848).djvu/37

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his own nature:—no one can have other conceptions, or a greater or less degree of vitality in these conceptions, than he actually has. The substance of his conceptions is determined by the position which he assumes in the universe; their clearness and vitality, by the higher or lower degree of efficiency manifested by the power of humanity in his person. Give to Nature the determination of one single element of a person, let it seem to be ever so trivial,—the course of a muscle, the turn of a hair,—and she could tell thee, had she a universal consciousness, and were able to reply to thee, all the thoughts which could belong to this person during the whole period of his conscious existence.

In this system also, the phenomenon of our consciousness which we call Will, becomes thoroughly intelligible. A volition is the immediate consciousness of the activity of any of the powers of Nature within us. The immediate consciousness of an effort,—an aspiration of these powers which has not yet become a reality because it is hemmed in by opposing powers,—is, in consciousness, inclination or desire; the struggle of contending powers is irresolution; the victory of one is the determination of the Will. If the power which strives after activity be only that which we have in common with the plant or the animal, there arises a division and degradation of our inward being; the desire is unworthy of our rank in the order of things, and, according to a common use of language, may be called a low one. If this striving power be the whole undivided force of humanity, then is the desire worthy of our nature, and it may be called a higher one. The latter effort, considered absolutely, may be called a moral law. The activity of this latter