Vitality and the Origin of Personhood
We know perfectly well what the difference is between a stance that is alive in us and one that is dead. We experience this difference daily and vividly. Who has not wished that certain virtues or qualities such as kindness were not more alive? And who has not wondered at the force and mystery of what is indeed alive in us? Let us refer to the aliveness of a stance as its vitality. A stance has vitality, then, to the extent that it has come alive.
Other metaphors such as awakening might do just as well, but the analogy to life seems particularly apt, for vitality is to psychology what life is to biology. In biology, the distinction between living and dead things is nebulous (e.g., Watson, 1976). The more deeply the distinction is pursued, the more relative it becomes. There is no answer as yet to the question, What is life? The distinction rests primarily on how things seem to us.
Similarly, the distinction between stances that are alive and dead in us is apt to remain nebulous, but hopefully fruitful. Vitality marks a relative distinction. A "feeling about" has more or less vitality. It might fluctuate between a concept and a feeling, but it is always both. The proportion of conceiving and feeling varies in our experience. That is all. Yet there is a difference between a vital stance that is dormant, so to speak, and one that has never really emerged as a vital stance. One is merely dormant or latent, whereas the other still awaits impregnation, an infusion of spirit. There is also a difference between vitality and feeling. The experience of pain, for example, is feeling, but it is not vitality. Vitality would involve