William James, "Reflex Action & Theism"

"...The conceiving or theorizing faculty - the mind's middle department - functions exclusively for the sake of ends that do not exist at all in the world of impressions we receive by way of our senses, but are set by our emotional and practical subjectivity together. It is a transformer of the world of our impressions into a totally different world - the world of our conception; and the transformation is effected in the interests of our volitional nature, and for no other purpose whatsoever. Destroy the volitional nature, the definite subjective purposes, preferences, fondnesses for certain effects, forms, orders, and not the slightest motive would remain for the brute order of our experience to be remodeled at all. But, as we have the elaborate volitional constitution we do have, the remodeling must be effected; there is no escape. The world's contents are given to each of us in an order so foreign to our subjective interests that we can hardly by an effort of the imagination picture to ourselves what it is like. We have to break that order altogether - and by picking out from it the items which concern us, and by connecting them with others far away, which we say "Belong" with them, we are able to make out definite threads of sequence and tendency; to foresee particular liabilities and get ready for them; and to enjoy simplicity and harmony in place of what was chaos. Is not the sum of your actual experience taken at this moment and impartially added together an utter chaos?... Is it not the only condition of your mental sanity in the midst of them that most of them should become non-existent for you, and that a few others.. should evoke from places in your memory that have nothing to do with this scene associates fitted to combine with them in what we call a rational train of thought - rational, because it leads to a conclusion which we have some organ to appreciate? We have no organ or faculty to appreciate the simply given order. The real world as it is given objectively at this moment is the sum total of all its being and events now. But can we think of such a sum? Can we realize for an instant what a cross-section of all existence at a definate point of time would be?... It is an order with which we have nothing to do but to get away from it as fast as possible.... We break it: we break it into histories, and we break it into arts, ad we break it into sciences; and then we begin to feel at home.... and out of an infinite number of these we call certain ones essential and lawgiving, and ignore the rest."


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