Thus, the sight or the thought of extreme suffering may carry with it emotions of pity so intense that considerations of justice and prudence will be brushed aside in the effort to bring relief. An impulse is essentially the forcible prompting of a single, strongly affective idea.The will is, in this case, as it were, borne down by feeling, and action is simply the "release" of an emotional strain, being scarcely more truly volitional than laughter or weeping.This aspect the phenomenist psychology of the modern school fails to explain.Though we reject all attempts to identify will with feeling, yet we readily admit the close alliance that exists between these functions. Thomas teaches that will acts on the organism only through the medium of feeling, just as in cognition, the rational faculty acts upon the material of experience.
Catholic philosophy, on the contrary, maintains, on the certain evidence of introspection, that choice is not merely a resultant of impulses, but a superadded formative energy, embodying a rational judgment; it is more than an epitome, or summing-up, of preceding phenomena; it is a criticism of them (see FREE WILL ).
This may probably awaken pleasant feeling as a consequence.
But this pleasure is not the object aimed at, nay the "Hedonistic paradox", as it is styled, consists in this, that if this consequential pleasure be made the direct object of pursuit, it will thereby be destroyed.
It is frequently used in a loose, generic sense as coextensive with appetite, and in such a way as to include any vital principle of movement ab intra, even those which are irrational and instinctive.
Thus Bain makes appetency a species of volition, instead of vice-versa. In any case--whatever opinion one holds on the free will controversy--some specific designation is certainly required for that controlling and sovereign faculty in man, which every sane philosophy recognizes as unmistakably distinct from the purely physical impulses and strivings, and from the sensuous desires and conations which are the expressions of our lower nature's needs.