This stone has come to rest at my feet; forces external to it
placed it there. This unattractive bulb has become a lovely
daffodil; but it was not in the mind of the bulb to become the
flower. This swallow has arrived in England; but I cannot
believe that during the winter it was making its plans for
migration in the spring. ... Man is otherwise constituted; he
has what Goethe calls “a universe within;” by the
help of this subjectivity of his, he can exercise a magical
power of purposing his actions. He can turn the
established order of nature upside-down and inside-out.
stone and the plant and the animal — in mechanical or
quasi-mechanical fashion — each conforms to the law of
its being. For man, however, Nature has in mind no prescribed
destiny. To man is given the very power of causation itself.
Man is himself a cause. Man is purposive.
Mysteriously and majestically, man turns effects into causes.
For him, and for him alone, the clock strikes before it reaches
the hour. He proposes to himself a deed or a course of action;
and this which is to be the subsequent, contrives to become the
antecedent. ... This is because man — unlike stone and
plant and animal — is in his essential being a member of
a Higher World ... In his conceptual selfhood man imaginates to
himself a purpose. This purpose is then applied to things
perceptual and sets them going. These things perceptual, in the
ordinary cause-effect way of Nature, influence or move other
perceptual elements and thus the original idea of man becomes
perceptualised, materialised actuality.
painter sees in imagination a picture; he makes up his mind to
get it onto canvas; so far, we have the conceptual or ideal
cause. The painter gets ready his paraphernalia; he sets to
work; now we can watch him; the cause has set going various
sense-perceptible activities. At length on the canvas appears
the completed work. It has truly enough in a certain sense
resulted from all that the painter perceptually did with his
brushes and paints. But more antecedently yet, and far more
truly, it has its origin in a conceptual purpose, now
realised; — the effect seen and known in an inner world
having brought about the occurrence in an outer.
are called upon to try to take in the virtually unbelievable
fact that we are comprehensively, completely, “really and
truly” creative, causal, “free.” We
are under no necessity to give effect in our lives to any
purposes except our own. But to be purposeful within our own
selfhood — to this, if we have the necessary receptivity,
we are being perpetually called. Our task is to discover by
thinking-intuition what are the life-purposes proper to
ourselves, each of us as a special, distinctive, unique entity;
our further task is to convert these ideal purposes into outer
Man, realise thyself! O Man, become what thou art!