Book II: The Will.

Chapter II: Desire, Intellect, and Will.

§ 115.

The ground upon which, rightly or wrongly, the reducibility of moral conduct to a series of natural phenomena, and with it the possibility of a physical science of ethics, is here denied, should by this time be sufficiently plain. It lies in the view that in all conduct to which moral predicates are applicable a man is an object to himself; that such conduct, equally whether virtuous or vicious, expresses a motive consisting in an idea of personal good, which the man seeks to realise by action; and that the presentation of such an idea is not explicable by any series of events in time, but implies the action of an eternal consciousness which makes the processes of animal life organic to a particular reproduction of itself in man. The first impression of any one reading this statement may probably be that in our zeal to maintain a distinction of ethics from natural science we have adopted a view which, if significant and true, would take away the only intelligible foundation of ethics by reducing virtuous and vicious action to the same motive; a motive the rejection of which by the will we virtually declare to be impossible, by treating it as itself the act or expression of will. In order to avoid misapprehension on this point, and to explain how we understand that distinction between the good and the bad will which undoubtedly forms the true basis of ethics, it will be necessary to enter on a fuller discussion of the nature of Will, in its relation to Desire and Reason. (§ 115 ¶ 1)

§ 116.

We are all familiar with the quasi-personification of Desire, Reason, and Will, which in one form or another have governed the language of moral philosophy in all ages in which such philosophy has existed. Sometimes desire and reason have been represented as inviting the man in different directions, while the will has been supposed to decide which of the two directions shall be followed. Sometimes the opposition has been represented as lying rather between different desires, of which reason however (according to the superstition) supplies the object to the one, while some irrational appetite is the source of the other; the will being the arbiter which determines the action according to the rational or irrational desire. Meanwhile criticism has been always ready to suggest that the only possible conflict is between desires, to which reason is related only as the minister who counts the cost and calculates means, without having anything to do with their initiation or their direction to an end; that the only tenable distinction between irrational and rational desires is really one between desire for the nearer pleasure and desire for the more remote, or between desire for a pleasure which a just calculation would pronounce to be overbalanced by the pains incidental to or consequent upon its attainment, and desire for one not liable to be thus cancelled in the total result. (§ 116 ¶ 1)

When this view is accepted, the will is naturally taken to be merely a designation for any desire that happens for the time to be strong enough to determine action. No doubt, it will be said, there is a particular class of the phenomena observable by the inner sense—a class called acts of will—which are distinguished from other events that take place in nature as being directed by our feeling. But we are not entitled ot suppose that in the case of each man there is really a single agent or power exerted in his acts of willing, a single basis of these phenomena. To do so would be of a piece with the logical fiction of things underlying the several groups of phenomena which we connect by a common name. Any act of willing is the result of the manifold conditions which go to constitute the feeling by which it is directed—conditions most various in the various cases of willing. (§ 116 ¶ 2)

The same criticism may be applied to our usual assumptions in regard to desire, and intelligence or reason, which we are apt to distinguish from will, as faculties having something in common with it and yet different from it. No doubt, it may be said, there are certain inner acts or phenomena which in virtue of certain resemblances we describe by the common name desire; others which on a similar ground we designate perceptions, conceptions, and inferences, and afterwards reduce to the higher genus of intellectual acts. But we are deceived by a process of language if, having arrived at an abstract term to indicate the elements of likeness in these several groups of phenomena, we allow ourselves to believe in the existence of a single agent or faculty—desire as such—underlying the manifold desires of this or that man, and of another such faculty—intelligence or reason as such—underlying his manifold perceptions, conceptions, and inferences. (§ 116 ¶ 3)

§ 117.

We have then first to enquire whether there is any real unity corresponding to the several terms, desire, intelligence, will, on the part of spiritual principles to which these terms are appropriate. Do they merely indicate each certain resemblances between certain sets of inner phenomena, a single point of view from which these several sets of phenomena may be regarded, and thus a unity not in the phenomena themselves but on the part of the person contemplating them? Or is there, on the other hand, a single principle which manifests itself under endless diversity of circumstance and relation in all the particular desires of a man, and is thus in virtue of its own nature designated by a single name? And, in like manner, are our acts of intelligence and will severally the expression of a single principle, which renders each group of acts possible and is entitled in its own right to the single name it bears? We shall find reason to adopt this latter view. The meaning we attach to it, however, is not that in one man there are three separate or separable principles or agents severally underlying his acts of desire, understanding, and will. We adopt it in the sense that there is one subject or spirit, which desires in all a man's experiences of desire, understands in all operations of his intelligence, wills in all his acts of willing; and that the essential character of his desires depends on their all being desires of one and the same subject which also understands, the essential character of his intelligence on its being an activity of one and the same subject which also desires, the essential character of his acts of will on their proceeding from one and the same subject which also desires and understands. (§ 117 ¶ 1)

§ 118.

Let us begin with the further consideration of desire. The distinction has already been pointed out between instinctive impulse and desire of that kind which is a factor in our human experience. The latter involves a consciousness of its object, which in turn implies a consciousness of self. In this consciousness of objects which is also that of self, or of self which is also a consciousness of objects, we have the distinguishing characteristic of desire (as we know it), of understanding and of will, as compared with those processes of the animal soul with which they are apt to be confused. And this consciousness is also the common basis which unites desire, understanding, and will with each other. Our habitual language for expressing the life of the soul naturally lends itself to obscure the distinction upon which it is important here to insist. We constantly speak of sensation as if it were in itself a consciousness of an object by which it is excited. We speak of feeling this thing and that, which we no doubt do feel, but which we only feel because we are self-conscious; because in feeling we distinguish ourselves from the feelings as their subject. This confusion is complicated by the common usage of feeling and consciousness as equivalent terms; which makes it difficult to mark the difference between the feeling of self, implied in all pleasure and pain, and that distinguishing presentation of self, as at once the subject of feelings and other than them, which properly constitutes self-consciousness. Nor when we have recognised the distinction between mere feeling and feeling as it is in the self-conscious man, is it easy to express it. If we use one set of terms, we fail to convey the difference between sensation, as the affection of a soul or of an individual subject properly so called, and any affection of one material thing by another. Adopting another set of terms, we seem to fall into the error just noticed, of identifying mere sensation with the consciousness of self and object. (§ 118 ¶ 1)

§ 119.

The unity of an individual soul is implied in all feeling; or perhaps we should rather say that feeling constitutes the unity of the individual soul. The individual animal is not merely one for us, who contemplate the connexion between the members organic to its life. It is one in itself, as no material atom or material compound is, in virtue of the common feeling through which, if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it. It is not one, as the atom is supposed to be, in the sense of being absolutely simple and excluding everything else from itself. Nor is it one, like the material universe, merely in respect of unity of relation between manifold elements. It is one in the sense that upon certain occurrences in the parts of a peculiarly constituted body there supervenes feeling, which is not any one or number of the occurrences, nor a result of their combination, in the sense of being analysable into them; which does not admit of being analysed into or explained by anything else, and would therefore be unknown but for our immediate experience of it; which, while it is not the attribute of any or all of the elements organic to it, is incommunicably private to a subject experiencing it, affected by the past and affecting the future of that particular subject, his own and not another's. (§ 119 ¶ 1)

The question of the distinction between animals and plants, the question whether all animals feel, whether any plants do, is one of classification with which we are not here concerned. However such a question may be answered, it does not affect the importance of noticing the distinctive nature of the individuality which feeling constitutes. It is only indeed from experienec of ourselves, not from observation of the animals, that we know what this individuality is; but according to all indications we are justified in ascribing it at any rate to all vertebrate animals. To say that they feel as men do, or that they are individual in the same sense as men, is misleading, because it is to ignore the distinctive character given to human feeling and human individuality by a self-consciousness which we have no reason to ascribe to the animals. But the assertion that they feel no less, and are no less individual, than ourselves seems to be within the mark. And if by desire we mean no more than that felt impulse after riddance from pain which pain carries with it to the individual, or that felt want which survives a feeling of pleasure; if by will we mean no more than activity determined by feeling; then we cannot do otherwise than ascribe desire and will to the animals. (§ 119 ¶ 2)

§ 120.

But though feeling, in the sense explained, constitutes individuality, it does not in that sense amount to the full individuality of man. It does not make the human self what it is. Each of us is one or individual, not merely in the sense that he feels and is so far conscious, but in the sense that he presents his feelings to himself, that he distinguishes himself from them, and is conscious of them as manifold relations in which he, the single self, stands to the world,--in short, as manifold facts. It is thus only as self-conscious that we are capable of knowledge, because only as self-conscious that we are aware of being in the presence of facts. Only in virtue of self-consciousness is there for us a world to be known. In that sense man's self-consciousness is his understanding. This does not of course mean that the abstract form of self-consciousness is an intelligence of facts. We know nothing of self-consciousness apart from feeling, and are probably entitled to assume that there is no such thing. The self-consciousness therefore of which we speak includes feeling; not indeed feeling as it is before the stage of self-consciousness is reached, but feeling as it is for the self-conscious soul, or feeling as manifold recognised relation to an objective world. In this reality of its existence, in this actual co-operation with the senses, self-consciousness is the faculty of understanding, which in its full activity, with the progressive analysis of that which the senses contain or reveal, becomes knowledge, or the actual understanding of a world. In the same way self-consciousness is the faculty or possibility of desire, in so far as it is the characteristic of desire to be directed to objects present to the mind of the person desiring them. (§ 120 ¶ 1)

If this statement seems strange, it is because we are misled by our habit of abstraction. Regarding self-consciousness in unreal detachment from the sensations which to the self-conscious soul become intelligible facts, we find a paradox in the statement that it is the basis of understanding. For a like reason, because we are habituated to abstract self-consciousness from the wants and impulses which are the sequelæ of sensation, we stumble at the notion of our desires being founded on self-consciousness. We suppose self-consciousness, in short, apart from a soul and from the activities of sense and appetite which belong to a soul before self-consciousness supervenes. We then oppose it to those very faculties and acts of desire and understanding which are really its expression, in the sense that it is only as self-conscious that the soul exhibits them. No doubt, if self-consciousness were not the self-consciousness of a soul, if it did not supervene upon a sentient and appetitive life, it would not exhibit itself as understanding and desire; but neither would it be what it is at all. The forms of psychical activity on which it supervenes are carried on into it, though with a character altered by its supervention. They form its content, its filling; not one, however, which remains what it was upon the first manifestation of self-consciousness in the soul, but one which is constantly taking new determinations to itself through the activity of which self-consciousness is the distinguishing form. (§ 120 ¶ 2)

§ 121.

Just as the action of self-consciousness in understanding becomes apparent as soon as we ask ourselves how the facts with which our intelligence deals come to be there for us--how occurrences of sensation come to be apprehended by us as facts--so its action in desire becomes apparent as soon as we ask ourselves how the objects to which our desires are directed, and which make them what they are, come to arise in our minds. To take an elementary instance, how do we come to desire food? Because we are hungry, is the answer that first suggests itself. But, before we accept the answer, we must enquire more carefully what we mean by the desire. Do we mean by it (1) hunger itself, as a particular sort of painful feeling; or (2) an instinctive impulse to attain food, excited by this painful feeling but without consciousness of an object to which the impulse is directed; or (3) an impulse excited by the image of a pleasure previously experienced in eating, such as we seem to notice in a well-fed dog or cat when the dinner-bell rings; or (4) desire for an object in the proper sense; i.e. for something which the desiring subject presents to itself as distinct at once from itself, the subject that desires, and from other objects which might be desired but for the time are not? (§ 121 ¶ 1)

It is only if we understand desire for food in the second of these senses that any one can be said to desire food merely because he is hungry. In the first sense the desire, being the same thing as hunger, obviously cannot be explained by it, but only by a physiological account of the way in which hunger arises. In the two latter senses of the desire for food hunger does not account for it. Hunger, whether considered simply as a painful feeling or as involving an instinctive impulse to remove that feeling, may exist without the desire for food in either of these senses. The quest and taking of food do not necessarily imply more than hunger and an instinctive impulse to remove it. They do not necessarily imply even the revival of an image of pleasure previously associated with eating some sort of food; much less desire for an object, presented as such. To begin with, even by the human infant, food must be sought and obtained instinctively, without any previous experience of it as something that will remove the pain of hunger, without any presentation to the mind of the removal of pain as an end to which means are to be sought. If the quest of food must thus in some cases be instinctive, i.e. carried on without consciousness of an object to which it is directed, there is nothing to show that it is not so in all, except where an experience of our own, or an experience which admits of communication to us, testifies to the contrary. (§ 121 ¶ 2)

§ 122.

Now that which takes place in the soul of an animal when hungry and seeking food is not an experience of this kind. The reason, therefore, which we have for saying of ourselves or our fellow-men that we desire food as an object of which we are conscious, does not apply to animals. Those animals indeed with which we chiefly associate, exhibit all the signs of impulses to action excited by recurrent images of pleasure previously experienced, but this recurrence of the image of a past pleasure does not in itself amount to the consciousness of a desired object consisting in a particular pleasure. Self-consciousness is implied in the one as it is not in the other. The mere revival in a sentient subject of the image of a past pleasure, with the consequent impulse after the renewal of the pleasure, does not imply any consciousness by the subject of itself in distinction from the pleasure, as the subject which has enjoyed it, and may enjoy it again, and which has also enjoyed other pleasures comparable with it; nor any consciousness of an objective world to which belongs the conditions of the pleasure--the means to it, and its consequences. (§ 122 ¶ 2)

§ 123.

As our principal concern is to ascertain what desire in ourselves is, not what desire in the animals is not, we need not dwell on the objections which naturally suggest themselves to the view that the actions of animals in all cases admit of being explained without the ascription to them of self-consciousness. They are objections which would probably disappear once the difference was realised between the existence of an individual soul and the individual's presentation of his individuality to himself--his distinction of himself from relations in which he stands to a world. Even when the difference has been apprehended, the affectionate observer of the dog and the horse may be slow to admit that their behaviour represents merely the sequence of impulses upon images of pain and pleasure, without conscious reference to self or to a world; which means without either such memory or such perception, such fear or such hope, as ours. We cannot deny, at any rate of beasts friendly to man, that in a certain sense they learn by experience; that the processes by which the trained or practised animal seeks to obtain the pleasure or avoid the pain, of which the imagination excites its impulse, imply the association with the imagined pleasure or pain of the images of many sensations which have been found to be connected with that pleasure or pain. It is readily assumed that such habitual sequence of images amounts to an experience of facts like our own; to an apprehension of an objective world, of which the necessary correlative is consciousness of self. The assumption becomes inveterate through the practice of describing the behaviour of animals in terms derived from our own experience,--a practice constantly becoming more prevalent, as the description of animal life becomes a more favourite subject of literary art. It is not to the purpose here to criticise the assumption in detail. It is enough to point out that it is an assumption; that the consciousness of objects as such, whether objects of knowledge or objects of desire, is more and other than any established sequence of images or any direction of desire by such sequent images; and that this consciousness of objects, whether any animals partake of it or no, is the characteristic thing in human experience, both in the experience through which we become acquainted with nature and in that through which morality arises. (§ 123 ¶ 1)

§ 124.

The desire for food--to return to that primary instance--though there are senses in which it is independent of self-consciousness, is not in those senses an element in our moral experience. As a determinant of our action as men, it is a desire for an object, of the presentation of which self-consciousness is the condition. Whether we take the object desired to be the removal of a particular pain or enjoyment of a particular pleasure, or the maintenance of life and strength, or some further object for the sake of which life and strength are sought; or whether we suppose a wish for each of these ends to be included in the unity of a will directed to the taking of food; in any case the object is rendered an object to us by a self which distinguishes itself from its experiences. The pain of hunger, the pleasure of eating, are alike presented as constituents in a universe of pains and pleasures, which the subject contemplates himself as possibly suffering and enjoying, and in relation to which he places the pain or pleasure that for the time predominates in his imagination. There is for him a world of feeling, however limited in its actual range yet boundless in capacity, of which he presents himself as the centre. It is by its relation to this world that any particular pleasure is defined for him as an object of desire, and thus, however animal in its origin, becomes to him, through such references to a before and after of experience, what it is not to the animal that feels but does not distinguish itself from its immediate feeling. This being true even of animal pleasure, if desired as an object or as we desire it, it is more plainly true of such an object as the maintenance of life and strength, and of any end for the sake of which life and strength are desired. To conceive his life as an end, to conceive ends for which he seeks to live, are clearly the functions only of a being who can distinguish the manifold of his experience actual and possible from himself, and at the same time gather it together as related to his single self. (§ 124 ¶ 1)

§ 125.

Even those desires of a man, then, which originate in animal want or susceptibility to animal pleasure, in the sense that without such want or susceptibility they would not be, yet become what they are in man, as desires consciously directed to objects, through the self-consciousness which is the condition of those objects or any objects being presented. And it is only as consciously directed to objects that they have a moral quality or contribute to make us what we are as moral agents. To desire food, in the sense either of being hungry or of having an impulse excited by an imagination of some pleasure of eating, without reference to a self which presents the pleasures to itself as a good among other possible good things, is not a function of our moral nature. If in our waking and sane life we are capable of such a merely animal experience at all, it at any rate does not affect us for the better or worse as men. It has no bearing on the state of soul or character to which the terms good or bad in the moral sense are applied. In order to have such a bearing, however dependent on the susceptibilities of the animal soul, it must take its essential character from that supervention of self-consciousness upon these susceptibilities through which a man becomes aware of the pleasure derived from them as an end which he makes his own. (§ 125 ¶ 1)

§ 126.

Nor can it be admitted that those desired objects which are of most concern in the moral life of the civilised and educated man, who has outgrown mere sensuality, are directly dependent on animal susceptibilities at all. It is not merely their character as objects which the man makes his good that they owe to self-consciousness. The susceptibilities in which the desires themselves originate, unlike the susceptibilities to the pain of hunger or pleasure of eating, do not arise out of the animal system, but out of a state of things which only self-conscious agents can bring about. The conflict of the moral life would be a much simpler affair than it is if it were mainly fought over those bodily pleasures, in dealing with which, according to Aristotle, the qualities of continence and incontinence are exhibited. The most formibdable forces which right reason has to subdue or render contributory to some true good of man are passions of which reason is in a certain sense itself the parent. They are passions which the animals know not, because they are excited by the conditions of distinctively human society. They relate to objects which only the intercourse of self-conscious agents can bring into existence. (§ 126 ¶ 1)

This is often true of passions which on first thoughts we might be inclined to reckon merely animal appetites. The drunkard probably drinks, as a rule, not for the pleasure of drinking, but to drown pain or win pleasures--pains for instance of self-reproach, pleasures of a quickened fancy or of a sense of good fellowship--of which only the thinking man is capable. The love which is apt to be most dangerously at war with duty is not a mere sexual impulse, but the passion for a person, in which the consciousness on the lover's part both of his own individuality and of that of the beloved person is at the utmost intensity. Our envies, jealousies, and ambitions--whatever the resemblance between their outward signs and certain expressions of emotion in animals--are all in their proper nature distinctively human, because all founded on interests possible only to self-conscious beings. We cannot separate such passions from their exciting causes. Take away those occasions of them which arise out of our intercourse as persons with persons, and the passions themselves as we know them disappear. The advantages which I envy in my neighbour, the favour of society or of a particular person which I lose and he wins and which makes me jealous of him, the superiority in form or power or place of which the imagination excites my ambition--these would have no more existence for an agent not self-conscious, or not dealing with other self-conscious agents, than colour has for the blind. (§ 126 ¶ 1)

§ 127.

It should further be noticed thta not only do those desires and passions which form part of our moral experience depend on the action of a self-conscious soul in respect of the presentation of their objects, many of them also in respect of the conditions under which the susceptibility to them arises, but that the same action is implied in the manner in which they qualify each other. We are apt to speak of our desires for this object and that as if each operated on us singly, or as if each had its effect on us independently of the others, though our conduct may represent their combined result. But such language is not a true expression of our experience. We are never so exclusively possessed by the desire for any object to be quite unaffected by the thought of other desired objects, of which we are conscious that the loss or gain would have a bearing on our happiness. In reflection upon our motives we abstract the predominant desire from that qualification, whether in the way of added strength or of abatement, which it derives from the belief on the part of the desiring subject that its satisfaction involves the satisfaction or frustration of other desires. But it is in fact always so qualified. Our absorption in it is never so complete but that the consideration of a possible happiness conditional upon the satisfaction of other desires makes a difference to it, though it may not be such a difference as makes its sign in outward conduct. We do not indeed desire the objects of our ordinary interests for the sake of our general happiness, any more than for the sake of the pleasure which the satisfaction of desire constitutes. As has often pointed out, if there were not desires for particular objects other than the desire for happiness, there could be no such thing as the desire for happiness; for there would be nothing to constitute the happiness desired. But in every desire I so far detach myself from the desire as to conceive myself in possible enjoyment of the satisfaction of other desires, in other words, as a subject of happiness; and the desire itself is more or less stimulated or checked, according as its gratification in this involuntary forecast appears conducive to happiness or otherwise. (§ 127 ¶ 1)

§ 128.

Even with the man of most concentrated purpose, the object on which his heart is set--e.g. the acquisition of an estate, election to Parliament, the execution of some design in literature or art--though it may admit of description by a single phrase, really involves the satisfaction of many different desires. The several objects of these admit of distinction, but they are not to be considered so many separate forces combining to make up the actual resultant motive. No one of them apart from the rest would be what it is, because each, as it really actuates the man, is affected by the desire for personal well-being; and that well-being presents itself to him as involving the satisfaction of them all. In the cases of concentrated purpose supposed, the man has come to identify his well-being with his success in bringing about a certain event or series of events. To him, as he forecasts his future, the possibility of that success being attained (his acquisition of the estate, his election to Parliament) presents itself as the possibility of his greatest good. It would not seem so, indeed, unless he had (or had once had) various desires, each directed to its specific object other than his well-being, and unless he contemplated the satisfaction of these desires as involved in this particular success; but on the other hand no one of these desires would actuate him as it does, in the way of directing all his effort to the single end for which he lives, unless it were strengthened and sustained by the anticipation of a well-being, in which he conceives the satisfaction of the other desires to be as much involved as the satisfaction of this particular one. The conception of this well-being is the medium through which each desire is at once qualified and reinforced by all the rest, in directing the man's effort to that end in which he presents to himself the satisfaction of them all. In the case of men whose effort is less concentrated in its direction, who live with mor divided aims, though chance desires have greater weight, yet none of these is unaffected by the idea of a happiness not to be identified with the satisfaction of any single desire. (§ 128 ¶ 1)

Now it is only to the self-conscious soul, which distinguishes itself from all desires in turn, that such an idea is possible. In this further sense, then--not only as the condition (1) of the presentation of objects, whether desired or perceived, and (2) of the susceptibilities in which those of our desires which are of most moral importance for good or evil originate, but (3) as the source of the idea of happiness--it is self-consciousness that makes the action of desire what it really is in the life of moral beings. If it is true that no desire actuates us without qualification by the consciousness of our capacity for other experience than that which this particular desire constitutes, then, in that sense, as well as in the other senses indicated, it is true that every desire which actuates us has a character that self-consciousness gives it. The objects of a man's various desires form a system, connected by memory and anticipation, in which each is qualified by the rest; and just as the object of what we reckon a single desire derives its unity from the unity of the self-presenting consciousness in and for which alone it exists, so the system of a man's desires has its bond of union in the single subject, which always carries with it the consciousness of objects that have been and may be desired into the consciousness of the object which at present is being desired. (§ 128 ¶ 2)

§ 129.

To revert then to the question from which this part of our discussion started, we shall be right in refusing to admit that particular desires are the only realities and that Desire is a logical fiction; right in asserting a real existence of Desire as such, if by this we understand the one soul or subject, and that a self-conscious soul or subject, which desires in all the desires of each of us, and as belonging to which alone, as related to each other through relation to it, our several desires are what they are. But if we mean anything else than this when we hypostatise desire--as we do when we talk of Desire moving us to act in such or such a way, misleading us, overcoming us, conflicting with Reason, &c.--then Desire is a logical abstraction which we are mistaking for reality. It is thus equally important to bear in mind that there is a real unity in all a man's desires, a common ground of them all, and that this real unity or common ground is simply the man's self, as conscious of itself and consciously seeking in the satisfaction of desires the satisfaction of itself. (§ 129 ¶ 1)

But the real unity underlying the operations of intelligence is also the man's self-conscious self. It is only in virtue of his self-consciousness, as has previously been pointed out, that he is aware of facts as facts, or that his experience reveals to him a world of related objects. It is clear then that we must not imagine Desire and Intellect, as our phraseology sometimes misleads us into doing, to be separate agents or influences, always independent of each other, and in the moral life often conflicting. The real agent called Desire is the man or self or subject as desiring; the real agent called intellect is the man as understanding, as perceiving and conceiving; and the man that desires is identical with the man that understands. Yet, on the other hand, to desire is clearly not the same thing as to understand. How then is the state of the case to be truly represented? (§ 129 ¶ 2)

§ 130.

We commonly content ourselves with saying that the same person has distinct faculties of desire and understanding; and to this statement, so far as it goes, no objection can fairly be made. It is equally impossible to derive desire from intellect and intellect from desire; impossible to treat any desire as a mode of understanding, or any act of understanding as a mode of desire. No reason can be given why any perception or conception should lead to desire, unless the soul has to begin with some possibility called into activity by the idea, but other than thta of which the activity constitutes the idea--the perception or conception. And, conversely, we cannot explain how a desire should set intellectual activities in motion except on a corresponding supposition. This being so, we must ascribe to the self-conscious soul or man two equally primitive, co-ordinate, possibilities of desiring and understanding. But we may not regard these as independent of each other, or suppose that one can really exist without the other, since they have a common source in one and the same self-consciousness. The man carries with him into his desires the same single self-consciousness which makes his acts of understanding what they are, and into his acts of understanding the same single self-consciousness which makes his desires what they are. No desire which forms part of our moral experience would be what it is, if it were not the desire of a subject which also understands: no act of our intelligence would be what it is, if it were not the act of a subject which also desires. (§ 130 ¶ 1)

This point would not be worth insisting on, if it meant merely that desires and operations of the intellect mutually succeed each other; that in order to the excitement of desire for an object, as distinct from appetite or instinctive impulse, there must have been a perception, involving at least some elementary acts of memory and inference; and that a desire, again, commonly sets in motion an intellectual consideration of consequences and ways and means. The meaning is that every desire which is within the experience of a moral agent, involves a mode of consciousness the same as that which is involved in acts of understanding; every act of understanding a mode of self-consciousness the same as that which is involved in desire. The element common to both lies in the consciousness of self and a world as in a sense opposed to each other, and in the conscious effort to overcome this opposition. This, however, will seem one of those dark and lofty statements which excite the suspicion of common sense. The reader's patience is therefore requested during one or two paragraphs of explanation. (§ 130 ¶ 2)

§ 131.

Desire for an object may be said generally to be a consciousness of an object as already existing in and for the consciousness itself, which at the same time strives to give the object another existence than that which it thus has--to make it exist really and not merely in the desiring consciousness. A man desires, let us suppose, to taste a bottle of fine wine, to hear a certain piece of music, to see Athens, to do a service to a friend, to finish a book that he has in hand. In each case the desired object, as such, exists merely in his consciousness, and the desire for it involves the consciousness of the difference between such existence of the desired object and that realisation of it towards which the desire strives, and which, when attained, is the satisfaction or extinction of the desire. In that sense the desire is at once a consciousness of opposition between a man's self and the real world, and an effort to overcome it by giving a reality in the world, a reality under the conditions of fact, to the object which, as desired, exists merely in his consciousness. It is true of course that the bottle of wine, the piece of music, the city of Athens, exist quite independently of the consciousness of any desiring subject; but these are not the desired objects. The experience of tasting the wine or hearing the music is the desired object; and this does not, any more than the anticipated service to the friend or the achievement of writing the book, exist while desired except in and for the consciousness of the person desiring it. So soon as it existed otherwise the desire would cease. It is true also that, though the desired object is one which for the person desiring it remains to be realised--to have reality given it--yet his desire for it is a real and definitely conditioned fact. To a superior intelligence contemplating the state of the case, the man's desire, with the unattained object which it implies, would be as real as anything else in the world. And further, while it would be apparent to such an intelligence that it was onl in virtue of the man's self-consciousness that the desired object existed for him, as such; only through it that he was capable of such an experience as that of which, if the desire be not simply sensual, the forecast moves him; on the other hand it would be no less apparent that the desire, however distinctively human, presupposes and entails some modification of the animal system. We are here considering, however, what desire for an object is to the person experiencing the desire, while experiencing it, not what it might be to another regarding it speculatively as a fact. As so experienced, the common characteristic of every such desire is its direction to an object consciously presented as not yet real, and of which the realisation would satisfy, i.e. extinguish, the desire. Towards this extinction of itself in the realisation of its object every desire is in itself an effort, however the effort may be prevented from making its outward sign by the interference of other desires or by the circumstances of the case. (§ 131 ¶ 1)

§ 133.

Such desire, then, implies on the part of the desiring subject (a) a distinction of itself at once from its desire and from the real world; (b) a consciousness that the conditions of the real world are at present not in harmony with it, the subject of the desire; (c) an effort, however undeveloped or misdirected, so to adjust the conditions of the real world as to procure satisfaction of the desire. Let us now turn for a moment to consider the generic nature of our thought. Here too we find the same general characteristic, a relation between a subject and a world of manifold facts, of which at first it is conscious simply as alien to itself, but which it is in constant process of adjusting to itself or making its own. This is no less true of thought in the form of speculative understanding, the process of learning to know facts and their relations, than it is true of it in the practical form of giving effect and reality to ideas. We have already seen how it is only for a self-conscious soul that the senses reveal facts or objects at all. The same self-consciousness which arrests successive sensations as facts to be attended to, finds itself baffled and thwarted so long as the facts remain an unconnected manifold. That it should bring them into relation to each other is the condition of its finding itself at home in them, of its making them its own. This establishment or discovery of relations--we naturally call it establishment when we think of it as a function of our own minds, discovery when we think of it as a function determined for us by the mind that is in the world--is the essential thing in all understanding. It is involved in those perceptions of objects which we are apt improperly to oppose to acts of understanding, but which all imply the discursive process of consciousness, bringing different sensuous presentations into reation to each other as equally related to the single conscious subject; and it is involved in those inferences and theories of relations between relations which we commonly treat as the work of understanding par excellence. Whatever the object which we set ourselves to understand, the process begins with our attention being challenged by some fact as simply alien and external to us, as no otherwise related to us than is implied in its being there to be known; and it ends, or rather is constantly approaching an end never reached, in the mental appropriation of the fact, through its being brought under definite relations with the cosmos of facts in which we are already at home. (§ 132 ¶ 1)

§ 133.

Now if this is a true account of speculative thinking, which it is our natural habit to put in stronger contrast with desire than we do practical thinking, it is clear that between the action of the self-conscious soul in desiring and its action in learning to know there is a real unity. Each implies on the part of the soul the consciousness of a world not itself or its own. Each implies the effort of the soul in different ways to overcome this negation or opposition--the one in the way of gathering the objects presented through the senses into the unity of an intelligible order; the other in the way of giving to, or obtaining for, objects, which various suceptibilities of the self-conscious soul suggest to it and which so far exist for it only in idea, a reality among sensible matters of fact. The unity of the self-conscious soul thus exhibits itself in these its seemingly most different activities. (§ 133 ¶ 1)

Accordingly, if we understand by thought, as exercised ex parte nostra, the consciousness in a soul of a world of manifold facts, related to each other through relation to itself but at the same time other than itself, and its operation in appropriating that world or making itself at home in it, it will follow from what has been said that thought in this sense is equally involved in the exercise of desire for objects and in the employment of understanding about facts. In the one case it appears in the formation of ideal objects and the quest of means to their realisation; in the other, it appears in the cognisance of a manifold reality which it is sought to unite in a connected whole. This community of principle in the two cases we may properly indicate by calling our inner life, as determined by desires for objects, practical thought, while we call the activity of understanding speculative thought. (§ 133 ¶ 2)

§ 134.

Nor is this all. The exercise of the one activity is always a necessary accompaniment of the other. In all exercise of the understanding desire is at work. The result of any process of cognition is desired throughout it. no man learns to know anything without desiring to know it. The presentation of a fact which does not on the first view fit itself into any of our established theories of the world, awakens a desire for such adjustment, which may be effected either by further acquaintance with the relations of the fact, or by a modification of our previous theories, or by a combination of both processes. All acquisition of knowledge takes place in this way, and in every stage of the process we are moved by a forecast, however vague, of its result. The learner of course knows not how he will assimilate the strange fact till he has done so, but the idea of its assimilation as possible evokes his effort, precisely as, in a case naturally described as one of desire, the idea, let us say, of winning the love of a woman evokes the effort of the lover to realise the idea. (§ 134 ¶ 1)

Thus the process of our understanding in its most distinctive sense is necessarily accompanied by desire. But can it conversely be maintained of desire, as we experience noti, not only that it has in common with understanding the essential characteristics of conscious relation between self and a world, and of conscious effort to overcome the opposition between the two, but that it necessarily carries with it an exercise of understanding in the distinctive sense, as we have just seen that our exercise of understanding necessarily carries with it desire? On reflection it will appear to be only some arbitrary abridgment of our conception of desire which makes us hesitate to admit that it is so. So soon as any desire has become more than an indefinite yearning for we know not what, so soon as it is really desire for some object of which we are conscious, it necessarily involves an employment of the understanding upon those conditions of the real world which make the difference, so to speak, between the object as desired and its realisation. In the primary stages of desire for an object, when it is either a desire on the part of a child still feeling its way in the world, or desire for some object that has newly suggested itself, the apprehension of the conditions of its realisation may be of the most elementary kind; or, again, the person desiring may be so familiar with those conditions that he is scarcely aware of his mind dwelling on them. But in every case, if desire is consciously directed to an object, and if that object is presented as still unrealised and as dependent for its realisation upon the fulfilment of certain conditions not yet fulfilled--and otherwise it would be an object already attained, not desired--then a discursive action of understanding among those conditions, essentially the same as that by which we learn the nature of a matter of fact, is the necessary accompaniment of the desire. To the extent at least of an apprehension that there are conditions of which the fulfilment is necessary to the attainment of the object, it is implied in that merely inchoate desire (if it is consciously directed to an object at all) which stops short of initiating any actual exertion for the fulfilment of the conditions. Without it the consciousness of distinction between the object as desired, and those conditions of reality that would satisfy the desire, could not exist. (§ 134 ¶ 2)

§ 135.

Thus these two modes of our soul's action, desire and intellect, or practical thought and speculative thought, have not merely the element in common which is expressed by the designation of each as thought, but, as has just been shown, neither action can really be exerted without calling the other into play. This is so even when the matters of fact upon which the understanding is employed are such as neither have any bearing, or are not conceived as having any, upon the improvement of man's estate, nor make any appeal to the artistic interest. It is so, again, when the object, of which the realisation is desired, is merely the enjoyment of a sensual pleasure. But in other cases the mutual involution of desire and understanding, of practical and speculative thought, is even more complete. There are processes, naturally described as intellectual, in which desire is not merely involved in the sense that the completion of the intellectual task is presented as an object which stimulates effort; while on the other hand there are processes which we naturally ascribe to desire, but in which the intellect is not merely involved as the apprehension of that reality which the desired object, as desired, lacks, or as the quest of means to its realisation. The activity of the artist, not merely in the region which we call that of the fine arts, but in any form affected by an ideal of perfect work, from that of the writer of books to that of the craftsman, we naturally and properly count intellectual. Yet it is throughout a realisation of desire. Of the mathematician or man of science it may possibly be held that he first thinks of his problem, or of facts not yet intelligible, and that the desire to solve the problem or to understand the facts is a subsequent and distinguishable activity. But with the artist, of whatever kind, the intellectual consciousness of the ideal, which initiates and directs his work, is itself a desire to realise it. An intellectual passion is our natural designation for his state of mind. (§ 135 ¶ 1)

Again, if we consider any of the more worthy practical pursuits of men, which, as is implied in calling them pursuits, are an expression of desire, we shall find not merely that implication of self-consciousness in the presentation of the object, which may not be ignored even when the object is the enjoyment of some animal pleasure, nor a mere sequence of intellectual action upon previous desire for an end; we shall find that the end itself is an object of understanding no less than of desire. It is only the fallacy of taking the pleasure that ensues on the satisfaction of the desire to be the object of the desire, which blinds us to this. If the end of a man whose chief interest is in the better management of an estate, or the better drainage of the town where he lives, or the better education of his family, or the better administration of justice, were indeed the pleasure which he anticipates in the success of his pursuit, it might be held that, since pleasure (in distinction from the facts conditioning it) is not an object of the understanding, the understanding was not co-operant with desire in the initiation of the pursuit. But, as has often been pointed out, the possibility of pleasure in the attainment of an object presupposes a desire directed not to that pleasure but to the object; and the object in the cases supposed is plainly one that originates in intellectual conception--not indeed in a passionless intellect, if there is such a thing, but in a soul which desires in understanding and in desiring understands. The same is true in regard to objects of less worthy, more selfish ambition. The applause of a senate or a town-council, the government of an empire or a borough, are not objects pursued for their own sake, not for the sake either of the pleasure of attaining them, or of ulterior pleasures to which they may be the means; and in order to the presentation of such objects the soul must understand, in the proper and distinctive sense, no less than desire. (§ 135 ¶ 2)

§ 136.

On the whole matter, then, our conclusion must be that there is really a single subject or agent, which desires in all the desires of a man, and thinks in all his thoughts, but that the action of this subject as thinking--thinking speculatively or understanding, as well as thinking practically--is involved in all its desires, and that its action as desiring is involved in all its thoughts. Thus thought and desire are not to be regarded as separate powers, of which one can be exercised by us without, or in conflict with, the other. They are rather different ways in which the consciousness of self, which is also necessarily consciousness of a manifold world other than self, expresses itself. One is the effort of such consciousness to take the world into itself, the other its effort to carry itself out into the world; and each effort is involved in every complete spiritual act--every such act as we can impute to ourselves or count our own, whether on reflection we ascribe the act rather to intellect or rather to desire. If the intellectual act implies attention--and otherwise we cannot ascribe it to ourselves--it implies desire for the attainment of an intellectual result, though the result be attained as quickly as, for instance, the meaning of a sentence in familiar language is arrived at upon attention being drawn to it. If the desire is consciously for an object--and this again is the condition of its being imputable to ourselves--it implies, as we have seen, an intellectual apprehension at least of the difference between the object and its realisation. In all the more important processes of desire the exertion of understanding is implied to a much more considerable extent, just as in every intellectual achievement of importance the action of desire is much more noticeable and protracted than in the case just instanced of intelligent attention to the import of a proposition, heard or read. (§ 136 ¶ 1)

§ 137.

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§ 138.

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§ 139.

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§ 140.

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§ 141.

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§ 142.

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§ 143.

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§ 144.

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§ 145.

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§ 146.

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§ 147.

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§ 148.

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§ 149.

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§ 150.

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§ 151.

To be continued...

§ 152.

To be continued...

§ 153.

To be continued...