experience of activity

william james in his ‘experience as activity’ essay generally talks about action and agency issues. After having a distinction between bare activitiy and complete activity, he asserts that the complete activites like creation and done by intention, and has a goal. he then talks about 3 principles which have been used by philosophers in order to understand the activities we experience. here is the quotations/underlined parts i have derived from the essay.

Bare activity then, as we may call it, means the bare fact of event or change. Change taking place is a unique content of experience, one of those conjunctive objects which radical empiricism seeks so earnestly to rehabilitate and preserve. [207]

But in this actual world of ours, as it is given, a part at least of the activity comes with definite direction: it comes with desire and sense of goal.

The activity is, for example, attributed either to a physical of to a mental agent, and is either aimless or directed. If directed it shows tendency.[208]

There is complete activity in its original and first intention. What it is known-as is what there appears. The experiencer of such a situation possesses all that the idea contains. He feels the tendency, the obstacle, the will, the time, the space, the swiftness or intensity, the movement, the weight, and the color, the pain, and pleasure, the complexity, or whatever remaining characters the situation may involve.[209]

Really it is the problem of creation; for in the end question is: how do I make them be? Real activities are those that really make things be, without which things are not, and with which they re there. Activity so far as we merely feel it, on the other hand, is only an impression of ours, it may be maintained; and an impression is, for all this way of thinking only a shadow of other fact. [216]

A philosophy of pure experience can consider the real causation as no other nature of thin than that which even in our most erroneous experiences appears to be at work. Exactly what appears there is what we mean by working, though we may later come to learn that working was not exactly there. Sustaining, persevering, striving, paying with effort, as we go, hanging on, and finally achieving our intention- this is action, this effectuation in the only shape in which, by a pure experience philosophy, the whereabouts of it anywhere can be discussed,. Here is the creation in its first intention,here is causality at work. [216-17]

the first type takes a consciousness of wider time-span than ours to be the vehicle of the more real activity. its will is the agent, and its purpose is the action done.

the second type assumes that ‘ideas’ struggling with one another are the agents , and that the prevalence of one set of them is the action.

the third type believes that nerve cells are the agents, and that resultant motor discharges are the acts achieved.
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