Inclination versus Capacity and Tendency

Capacity is the sheer ability to do things or to learn to do things. Inclination is the finding of one thing or another natural and agreeable. Tendency is the actual pattern of doing something frequently. All three interact, and all three can and do change over time of course. But they are not the same.

In discussing human functioning, a great deal of misunderstanding arises when one person speaks about capacity and the other about inclination. For instance, a person describing gender differences is usually speaking of inclination, someone denying gender differences is usually speaking about capacity.

In will based living, the focus is on capacity because it is believed that correct living comes from conforming to to an optimal image of success or goodness. This gives rise to competing philosophies that define what everyone should do. This is really a survival orientation. In this orientation, inclinations are seen (correctly) as arising from the body, but are also seen (incorrectly) as deleterious, as something to be fought.. Inclinations however, inevitably assert themselves over the course of a life, because will power 1) can only be used to control conscious aspects of motivation, and 2) will-power cannot be operable 24/7. If one is at war with inclinations, there will a great struggle that wastes energy and stops harmony. It is possible to proceed stubbornly in an undertaking if feeling and inclination is left out, (although exhaustion becomes a factor) but it is simply not possible to act with conviction.

The Reich and Lowen tradition asserts that healthy people are inclined to do healthy things and are far less likely to be led astray by their inclinations than by any ideology. Capacities increase, of course, when inclinations are followed, but this is by growth and not by will. Inclinations change also, with increase in maturity, self-posession, and circumstance.

Our culture strongly distrusts inclination. Inclination does not mean bad habits or sliding into dissolution. Bad habits are substitutes for what is really wanted. Bad habits are a tendency to give up on what is really wanted and take an easier or more available substitute pseudo-satisfaction. Substitutes may reinforce unhealthy tendencies through the workings of addiction. However, tendencies can be healthy as well. It is very difficult to form a real sustained tendency that is counter to inclination. An example is trying to eat less when an appetite hasn't changed. Changing inclination or appetite is possible but it involves deeper, usually more physical work than just mental resolve.