Page images
PDF
EPUB

and the freedomist says "No." Some necessitarians state the connection between volition and motive as philosophical necessity”; others, as "secured certainty"; but it is our author's aim to show that the alleged distinctions between the different kinds of necessity cannot logically be maintained. This brings us at once to the author's reconciliation between the intuition of liberty and the axiom of causation. This is grounded upon.

THE ESSENTIAL NATURE OF THE WILL. Will is simply soul intentionally acting : the “power by which man becomes properly an agent in the world.” It is carefully discriminated from desire by our author, under eight heads, which we need not recapitulate, as the distinction - though here defended by new arguments — is now so generally admitted among metaphysicians;7 and we quote only the remark of Coleridge, endorsed by our author, that “we can conceive a being full of co-existing and contending desires and emotions, but without any power of volition, and so hemmed forever into a circle of passivities."

The act of willing is precisely defined as the volitional act, between the preceding intellection, emotion, etc. (called the pre-volitional conditions), and the subsequent acts of body and mind, which are post-volitional or voluntary. In every act, then, we have three distinct elements : first, the pre-volitional conditions ; second, the volitional act; and, thirdly, the voluntary act. We note here, in passing, a distinction that solves some fallacies, that the act of willing, itself, is not voluntary, and so dependent upon a previous act of will ; it is simply volitional. “In will, alone of all existences, there is an alternative power. Every species

1 Plato makes this distinction, showing how desire may draw in one direction and yet will decide in another : e.g. a man may desire to drink, and yet determine not to drink. Cf. Rep. Lib. IV. 439, A. (ed. Stallb.). Aristotle has set it forth so distinctly, that it is surprising how any succeeding philosopher could have missed it. He shows how desire may oppose choice, and so argues a distinction between επιθυμία and προαιρέσεις. He says, προαιρέσει μεν επιθυμία ενανTIIŪTAI, émiguula 8' &tuvula . Cf. Eth. Nicomach., 40, 14 (ed. Bekker). Vol XXI. No. 83.

81

of existence has its own one and singular property. Matter alone has solidity; mind alone has intelligence; cause alone has efficiency; and will, alone of causes, has an alternative or pluri-efficient power. It is the existence or nonexistence of this power in will which constitutes the dispute between the necessitarian and the freedomist” (p. 14). It is the nature of a physical cause that it is potent for one only effect, i.e. that it is “unipotent; and as we argue concerning mental phenomena from material analogies, we are prone to carry this conception of “unipotencein causes from the realm of matter into that of mind. But universal consciousness, or at least the universal convictions thence arising, correct this conception, and assert that whenever will chooses one of several objects presented, it had full power at that moment to have chosen either of the others instead. And, let it be noted, a psychological question like this is not to be settled by deceptive analogies drawn from observation of the outer world, but by a careful scrutiny of the internal phenomena. Because causes are “unipotent” in material nature (i.e. because every cause there is followed invariably, under the same conditions, by the same effect), and because, while philosophizing on material phenomena, we can infallibly predict a given effect when we see a given cause, or affirm that such must have been the cause when we see the effect, it by no means follows that we can carry the same principles of reasoning into the infinitely diverse realm of mind. Now the axiom that every event must have a cause, when urged against the freedomist theory of will, has no force, except from the involved assumption that “every cause is unipotent," — the very point in dispute. In fact, in this assumption is the whole system of necessitarianism.

Now, as a unipotent cause accounts fully for its one invariable effect, so an alternative cause accounts as fully for either of its several alternative effects. Will is such an alternative cause, - the only one that we know. When, then, we are asked what caused a given volition, the true and sufficient answer is,“ will.” To ask still further, what caused

same:

will to produce this volition, is as irrelevant as to ask what caused any other cause to produce its effect; that is, it is to ask“ what causes causation?” Under given conditions of atmosphere, etc., the unipotent cause which we call electricity produces certain effects of light and heat; and, under given external and internal conditions of desire and motive, etc., the alternative cause called will produces either one of several volitions; and if we are asked to account for the uniform sequence in the one case, or the alternative sequence in the other, the answer in both cases is the

“such is the nature of things”; or, “such is the nature of causation.” No philosopher feels bound to explain causation.

Having exposed the necessitarian paralogism, and shown that an alternative cause, adequate for either one of several effects, is as truly within the limits of a legitimate causation as a physical or unipotent cause, he proceeds to answer the successive questions : What causes will to act" ? “What causes particular volition”? “Why not the contrary volition”? “What explanation for alternative diversity of results”? He here assumes to show that as a complete unipotent cause truly accounts for its one solely possible result, so a complete alternative cause is an adequate accounting for either one of several possible results. And as it is absurd to ask what causes a unipotent cause, in its proper conditions, to produce its one sole result, so it is absurd to ask in regard to an alternative cause, in its proper conditions, what caused it to put forth its alternative results. A complete cause, whether unipotent or alternative, accounts for its effect," for all complete cause puts forth its effect uncausedly.Nor is it any more difficult to explain how a free cause attains its alternative result, than how a unipotent cause is limited, circumscribed, and made to converge to its one sole possible effect. That is, free volitional causation is just as explicable as any causation whatever. The author then proceeds, in successive chapters, to refute and to retort the charge of atheistical consequences; to demon

strate that freedom involves not chance, and that the power of contrary choice is liable to no charge of uselessness.

PLAN OF THE WORK.

At the start, our author takes the position (and this forms the hinge of his whole argument), that the power of counterchoice is indispensable to responsibility. The main body of the work, constituting Part II., considers the necessitarian objections against the existence of this power. Having removed these objections, freedomism may be deemed established by the sense of responsibility, of which it is an indispensable condition. Part II. assumes freedomism, and shows that it is not invalidated by the necessitarian arguments. Part III. proves it by positive argument.

As it is impossible, within these limits, to follow out with any degree of fulness the author's plan of treatment, we shall endeavor only to present his leading positions, following still a topical arrangement, which will bring out the fundamental points in controversy.

FREEDOM OF WILL.

The definition of liberty as given by Hobbes, “I acknowledge this liberty, that I can do if I will,” I repeated by Collins, as quoted above, and endorsed by Edwards, simply makes the freedom of will the same thing as freedom of external action. Now the question is not, whether the body can do what the mind wills; that is, not whether the body is under restraint or coaction in carrying out the commands of the will, but whether the will itself is necessarily limited to a sole volition. In other words, the freedom of which Hobbes speaks is not volitional but voluntary freedom.

Some necessitarian philosophers, especially the extreme school of Lock, who state explicitly that this liberty of voluntary action is all that man is capable of, and that liberty can in no sense be predicated of will, have at least the

1 Hobbes's Works, Vol. IV. p. 240. Inquiry, Part I., Sect. 5.

merit of logical consistency; but there is no propriety in professing to prove freedom of will, and then proceding at once to prove an external freedom to obey will; i.e. freedom of external or post-volitional action. Calvin saw this impropriety, and pointedly rebukes the absurdity of calling a man's will free because his voluntary action is not hindered. He

says, it is very true that we may say a man possesses “ free-will” because he acts voluntarily; but asks, “what end could it answer to decorate a thing so diminutive with a tille so superb ?Egregious liberty indeed!” 1 he ironi. cally cries out. It is not generally realized that Edwards does not pretend that the will is free. He follows Locke in asserting that liberty cannot properly be predicated of will. “ To talk of liberty, or the contrary, as belonging to the very will itself, is not to speak good sense; if we judge of sense and nonsense by the original and proper signification of words.” ? He shows, on the other hand, in various ways, what could scarcely ever have been doubted, that his “philosophical necessity” does not hinder voluntary action, while the real objection to it is, that it effectually and necessitatively controls volitional action. One of the “

One of the “prevailing notions concerning the freedom of the will” which he bent his giant energies to dissipate, was, that it is not to “speak good sense” to “talk of liberty, or the contrary, as belonging to the very will itself." Yet many imagine that his great work shows how the will can be free, while yet all its volitions are necessitated. But this last task he was too keen a logician to undertake.

Hobbes, as before mentioned, more precisely defines liberty thus : it is the “absence of all impediments to action that are not contained in the nature and intrinsical quality of the agent." 3 It is here that he gives the much-quoted illustration : "water is said to descend freely, or to descend by the channel of the river, because there is no impediment that way, but not across, because the banks are impedi

Inst. Christ. Relig., Lib. II., Cap. 2. * Hobbes's Works, Vol. IV. p. 274.

? Inquiry, Part I., Sect. 5.

« PreviousContinue »