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.
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.
Hence arose disputes between the Thomists and other schools, as to whether in the last resort the will was necessarily determined by the practical judgment of the reason.
The point, so hotly debated in the medieval schools , concerning the relative dignity of the two faculties, will and intellect, is perhaps insoluble; at all events it is not vital.
Most of our ordinary volition takes the form of spontaneous and immediate reaction upon very simple data.
We have to deal with some narrow, concrete situation; we aim at some end apprehended almost without reflection and achieved almost at a stroke; in such a case, will expresses itself along the lines of least resistance through the subordinate agencies of instinctive action, habit, or rule of thumb.There are, however, many manifestations of will that are less complete than this.Formal choice, preceded by methodical deliberation, is not the only or the most frequent type of volition.An act of will is generally conditioned not only by knowledge, but also by some mode of affective consciousness or feeling. The capital error of the Hedonist school was the doctrine that the will is attracted only by pleasure, that, in the words of Mill, "to find a thing pleasant and to will it are one and the same". The object of the will is the good apprehended as such. Moreover, the primary tendency of appetency or desire is often towards some object or activity quite distinct from pleasure.Thus in the exercise of the chase, or intellectual research, or the performance of acts of benevolence, the primary object of the will is the accomplishment of a certain positive result, the capture of the game, the solution of the problem, the relief of another's pain, or the like.And custom has consecrated the term will to this more honourable use.