Imagination and the Nature of Choice

Imagination and the Nature of Choice

Imagination and the Nature of Choice

Imagination and the Nature of Choice

Excerpt

I seek here to show the essential nature of choice as discernible in men's most direct, inescapable and imperious intuitions. What a man most directly and immediately knows is his own thought. For Descartes the fact of thought was the proof of his being. A thought (in an encompassing sense: perception, intellection, emotion, imagination, decision) takes place and yields place in an indivisible unity of transience. The transience of thought is our intuition of time. Does not one thought's transience summon another and this other yet another so that transience suggests succession? What formal frame do we conceive for the succession of thoughts and of moments? It is the linear calendar, the calendar axis, the notion of time-to-come. What can fill that frame? Can its content be observed by an eye-witness? Ifnot, can its content be inferred from what is present to us, the content of the present moment of actuality with its traces, records and memories of time past? If it can be so inferred, then the content of time-to-come is merely a part of the same existent which we cognize in the present, it is essentially one with that present and with all the content of time past, it is implied in its antecedents, it is determinate from eternity to eternity. If so, what is choice? Is choice no more than the recognition of necessity? Is the study of choice the study merely of mechanism, of the operation of all-encompassing causation? Is thought itself, including the business of choice, the determinate effect of cause? If we repudiate this view, do we reject cause? Choice itself, unless it is wholly ineffective, unless it makes no difference, unless it is otiose, insignificant and negligible, must be . . .

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