Page images

e.g., as he afterwards illustrates, water is free to run down a river-channel when no impediments are placed across the stream. Concerning the theory of a self-determining will, he says that this supposes the will to be determined by a prior will, and that for the same reason by a will prior to that, and so on in infinite series. “ If a man determine himself, the question will still remain : What determined him to determine himself in that manner”?) etc. He also held that “ denying necessity destroyeth both the decrees and prescience of God Almighty.”2 As to man's moral intuitions, Hobbes, it is well known, made short work with them : “Fire is to be blamed for burning, and poison for killing, as much as are men for sinning." 3 Hobbes, according to Priestley, was the inventor of the doctrine so well known as “philosophical necessity.”

Locke, in like manner, denied that freedom can be properly predicated of will, and even ridiculed the great question before us as absurd. He says that the question " whether man's will be free or no ..... is altogether improper, and it is as insignificant to ask whether man's will be free as to ask whether his sleep be swift or his virtue square." 4 But it is well known that Locke fluctuated in his views of this subject. He elsewhere says explicitly: “ Though I cannot have a clearer conception of anything than that I am free, yet I cannot make the freedom in man consistent with omnipotence and omniscience in God ..... if it be possible for God to make a free agent, then man is free, though I see not the way of it." 5

Collins, the contemporary of Locke, vindicates himself from the charges of immorality and atheism by defining liberty precisely as did Edwards after him. “Though I deny liberty in a certain meaning of that word, yet I contend for liberty as it signifies a power in man to do as he wills, or pleases. When I affirm necessity, I contend only for moral

1 Hobbes's Works, Vol. V. p. 35. Ibid., Vol. IV. p. 278. 3 Ibid., Vol. V. p. 53.

Essay, Book II., Chap. XXI. Lect. 14. 5 As quoted by Stewart, Encycl. Brit., Vol. I. p. 143.


necessity, meaning thereby that man, who is an intelligent and sensible being, is determined by his reason and senses ; and I deny man to be subject to such necessity as in clocks, watches, and such other beings, which, for want of sensation and intelligence, are subject to an absolute physical or mechanical necessity.”ı He then proceeds to show that his theory of will (the same as that of Hobbes), so far from being inconsistent with moral desert, rewards, and punishments, is really their sole foundation. This theory of will and the doctrine of philosophical necessity have been defended by essentially the same arguments until the present time, arguments best known to the world, however, as expanded and applied, with matchless logical power, by the elder Edwards. The mystic piety of Bonnet, and the pure spiritual intuition of Edwards, saved them from pushing their theory to the pantheistic extreme of Spinoza on the one hand, and the fatalistic conclusions of Belsham and Diderot on the other.3

FREEDOMISM. The freedomists, on the other hand, have, as above intimated, taken their stand firmly upon the intuition of liberty,

· Philosophical Inquiry, Preface.

? Yet Edwards never read Hobbes, and expressly repudiates his fatalism. See Inquiry, Part. IV., Sec. 6.

3 That this theory of Will is far older than Hobbes may be seen in Lucretius. First we have the causational axiom :

De nihilo quoniam fieri nil posse videmus.Then he states the problem :

“Denique, si semper motus connectitur omnis,

Et vetere exoritur semper novus ordine certo,
Unde est haec (inquam) fatis avolsa voluntas,

Per quam progredimur, quo ducit quemque voluptas," etc.
Then comes the testimony of consciousness :

“ Declinamus item motus, nec tempore certo

Nec regione loci certa, sed uti ipsa tulit mens.”
Cousin might have written the next lines, though with a deeper meaning:

"Nam, dubio procul, hiis rebus sua quoique voluntas

Principium dat ; et hinc motus per membra rigantur.” But the Roman's rigid materialism does not allow him to slip from the ada

and attempted in various modes to adjust it to the causational axiom. The opponents of Hobbes and Collins, having much to say of “self-determining power,” and of the “contingency” of volitions, stereotyped these phrases to such a degree in this controversy, that, in one meaning or another, they have ever since been regarded as embodying the doctrines of freedomism. The two great metaphysical difficulties of the freedomists have been so to frame the “ self-determining” theory as to avoid the infinite-series argument, suggested by Hobbes, and so skilfully elaborated by Edwards ; and so to explain the doctrine of “contingency” as not to deny the axiom that every event must have its cause.

The unfortunate efforts in this direction made by the Arian, or rather deistical, freedomist Chubb, have been immortalized by the merciless castigation that they received at the hands of Edwards. Kant affirmed the freedom of the will as a matter of consciousness, but avowed his inability to reconcile it with the “ general law of natural necessity.” ? Stewart took the ground that an external motive could not properly be designated an efficient cause. As mind only can have efficiency and be a cause, in the sense of the axiom,

consequently it is absurd to ascribe the volitions of mind to the efficiency of causes foreign to itself.”3 Reid and Hamilton both held that the will is free from external cansation, and has “ power over its own determinations,” and that this constitutes liberty. Cousin, following M. de Biran,

mantine chain, and so, though abjuring necessity in name, he gives us a perfect picture of what was afterwards called the “Liberty of spontaneity,the liberty of Hobbes :

“Sed, ne mens ipsa necessum
Intestinum habeat cunctis in rebus agundis,
Et, devicta quasi, cogatur ferre, patique.

Id facit exiguum clinamen principiorum,” etc.
Here we see the will fatis avolsa, yet fixed by a primordial clinamen. – De Rerum
Natura (Edit. Delph, et var. Valpy, 1830), Lib. II. 251, etc.

1 Hobbes's Works, Vol. V. p. 35 (see above).

2 Critic of Pure Reason (Eng. ed. and trans., London: W. Pickering, 1838), p. 412, etc. i

3 Stewart's Dissertation, Encycl. Brit., Vol. I. p. 266.
4 llamilton's Discourses on Philosophy and Literature, App. I.

in considering will as the self, the personality, makes it a cause which has the power to produce volition directly." Tappan advances from Cousin's position, and makes the important point that it is the special quality of this cause called will " to have the power to make the particular determination without being necessarily correlated to the object.” ? Hamilton, in reviewing Cousin's theory, insists on liberty of will, but declares that, as an absolute commencement is to him inconceivable, the mode of that liberty is incomprehensible, Bledsoe denies that volition is, properly speaking, an effect. He considers it a phenomenon by itself, and proposes to establish for it a distinct and separate metaphysical category. Cousin's category of cause and effect he proposes to subdivide into two, one giving the relation of cause and effect, and the other that between agent and action.5

DR. WHEDON'S WORK. We are now prepared to indicate what has been accomplished by the work before us. Written confessedly from the freedomist point of view, it yet differs in essential particulars from all the works noticed above. Making new and vital distinctions in ideas hitherto blended under common terms, unfolding with precision and perspicuity thoughts after which others have often been groping in the haze of a cloudy phraseology, it not only gives, from the philosophical and theological points of view, the most thorough criticism of the necessitarian scheme that has yet appeared, but also presents the freedomist scheme as a harmonious and logically compact system. Promptly rejecting, as vague and unsatisfactory, Kant's illusory offer of a “noumenal liberty," analyzing the idea of cause more closely than Stewart, and availing himself of the happy thought of Tappan, avoiding the meshes of the infinite-series argument, which it is so

1 Elements of Psychology (American ed.), Chap. IV. • Review of Edwards's Inquiry, etc., p. 222. 3 Hamilton's Discourses on Philosophy and Literature (Harper's ed.), p. 587. • Bledsoc on the Will, sec. 7.

Bledsoe's Theodicy, p. 154.

hard to shun when we say, with Reid and Hamilton, that the will “ has power over its own determinations," holding, with Cousin, that mind has been constituted a cause, and that this is its essential characteristic, and so analyzing the idea of “contingency” that, while holding to it in one sense, he can yet admit as fully as the most rigid necessitarian that volition is an effect, our author takes up his position by admitting, in full force, all that can be claimed by the intuition of freedom on the one side, and by the axiom of causation on the other.

Before proceeding to develop the main positions of the work, we remark that, as a whole, it has evidently been wrought with great care and deliberation, in the patient study and reflection of many years. All sides of the subject seem to have been carefully scrutinized, and whatever success the reader may judge the author to have had in meeting objections, or in maintaining his own position, he will at least, as we judge, award him the merit of candor in stating the objections of his celebrated opponents, of honest fearlessness and conscious power in grappling with all the difficulties of this mighty subject, and of a wise humility, as the vast theme inevitably brings him to the verge of those undiscovered and perhaps undiscoverable regions, whose walls our reason vainly seeks to scale or penetrate.

The work is in three parts. Part I. states the issue between the freedomist and the necessitarian theory; Part II. reviews the necessitarian theory - mainly as it is stated by Edwards and the Princeton Essayists — under three heads, called respectively the causational, the psycological, and the theological argument; Part III. gives the positive argument for the author's view.

The issue may be stated thus: All admit that the operations of the intellect and of the sensibilities are necessi. tated. Thought and feeling arise in the mind, when the appropriate objects are presented, as inevitably as any physical effect follows its cause. Is volition, in this sense, dependent upon motive ?

motive? The necessitarian says “ Yes,"

« PreviousContinue »