My desires, volitions and thoughts are thus the desires, volitions and thoughts of God.
The essence of his views is contained in the following passage, which he follows up with the conclusion "that one and the same kind of living filaments is and has been the cause of all organic life": "Would it be too bold to imagine that, in the great length of time since the earth began to exist, perhaps millions of ages before the commencement of the history of mankind, - would it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament, which the great First Cause endued with animality, with the power of acquiring new parts, attended with new propensities, directed by irritations, sensations, volitions and associations, and thus possessing the faculty of continuing to improve by its own inherent activity, and of delivering down these improvements by generation to its posterity, world without end!"
Not only human beings but animals and objects are seen in dreams; and the conclusion would be that they too have souls; the same conclusion may have been reached by another line of argument; primitive psychology posited a spirit in a man to account, amongst other things, for his actions; a natural explanation of the changes in the external world would be that they are due to the operations and volitions of spirits.
(b) He contends that, when matter ascends to the evolution of organic life, the unconscious has a power, over and above its atomic volitions, of introducing a new element, and that in consequence the facts of variation, selection and inheritance, pointed out by Darwin, are merely means which the unconscious uses for its own ends in morphological development.
Taking substance entirely in the sense of substrate, he argues that there is no evidence of a substantial substrate beneath mental operations; that there is nothing except unitary experience consisting of ideas, feelings, volitions, and their unity of will; and that soul in short is not substantia, but actus.
The volition of primitive man was one with that of God but it becomes broken up into separate volitions which oppose themselves to the divine will, and through the oppositions and trials of this world work onward to a second and completer harmony.
Ideals and volitions are upon his view ultimately movements of the brain.
Emotions and volitions, he holds, are not directly self-preservations of the soul, as our presentations are, but variable states of such presentations resulting from their interaction when above the threshold of consciousness.
Ethics, which is but one branch of aesthetics, although the chief, deals with such relations among volitions (Willensverheiltnisse) as thus unconditionally please or displease.
These relations Herbart finds to be reducible to five, which do not admit of further simplification; and corresponding to them are as many moral ideas (Musterbegriffe), viz.: (I) Internal Freedom, the underlying relation being that of the individual's will to his judgment of it; (2) Perfection, the relation being that of his several volitions to each other in respect of intensity, variety and concentration; (3) Benevolence, the relation being that between his own will and the thought of another's; (4) Right, in case of actual conflict with another; and (5) Retribution or Equity, for intended good or evil done.