« ElőzőTovább »
assumed to be ultimately free, that is, uncaused, however biassed by the conditions andj circumstances of acting. Now, the bowl will roll indeed according to its bias, but it must first find elsewhere an origin of movement. This supposition, then, it is urged, is inconsistent with the whole analogy of Nature, and is unsupported by the evidence of facts.
§ 9. The question thus stated will be perceived J^^°' to have no immediate connection with the theolo- tenet of
ffical tenet of free-will.1 By this is properly to be dis
• r -ii 1 tingui>,hed
covered the relation of man's will to supernatural from the or Divine interference, the measure, so to speak, of or metaits subservience, the will being assumed, as to itself, question, to be an instance of causation in Nature. At present we are concerned only with the scientific fact of the existence of will in man, as being a fundamental condition of the permanence of our religion. To the mode of its operation the old physical axiom may with reason be applied—" Corpora non agunt nisi soluta." For it needs hardly to remark that to speak of free-will is no better than a tautology, not to rank it among the "question-begging appellatives" of Bentham, a will not free being a contradiction in terms, a conception which excludes itself.2 There is, indeed, an aspect in which the
1 Mr. Buckle, IJist. Civ., I. pp. 9, 20, has indeed exhibited this subject very differently; yet, as it seems to me, with some confusion.
a This, it is found, was the view of Spinoza (Ed. Auerbach). Coleridge justly remarks:—"A will, the state of which does in no sense
theological dogma is not unconcerned with the The theo- scientific question. Thus, if the assumption of dogma universal law as a principle of science, or of nasaniyin- tural selection and gradual evolution as applicawith the tions of it, require in regard of human action the
vi c w of
natural reception of a system of fatalism, whether pure or modified, it would not be difficult, by means of a doctrine of predestination, determinism, or even of eternal reprobation, to institute an apparent alliance between some aspects of Christianity and science.1 This subject it is not within our limits to pursue further, though it has been stirred by some leading writers of the time.3 I would remark only that among defensive arguments such reasoning is at least not inadmissible.
Theargu- &io. Are, then, the grounds on which the human
ment from 3 '' °
originate in its own act, is an absolute contradiction. It might be an instinct, an impulse, a plastic power, and if accompanied with consciousness, a desire ; but a will it could not be."—A. li., p. 104. Scientific and theological determinism may thus practically coincide. A will, which is absorbed in the conditions of its operation, is no will; and if the actions of men "are merely the product of a collision between internal and external phenomena," responsibility of conduct is evaded. "Voluntas," said even Luther, "quae potest cogi et cogitur, non est voluntas sed noluntas."
1 Thus the Leibnitian doctrine of Monads and a Pre-established Harmony, when assailed as involving Fatalism, was defended by its author as not incompatible with the Christian doctrine of Grace.
a It is suggested by Mr. Buckle in his highly interesting comparison of Calvinism with Arminianism, H. Civ., II. 342; and by Mr. Froude in his most eloquent, though somewhat vague, lecture on Calvinism. See also Mr. J. S. Mill, Exam, of Sir W. Hamilton, p. 4i>2. Sir William (Appendix to lieid, p. 977) is careful to point out that the Calvinist theologian holds to the liberty of man by the side of a doctrine of predestination and foreknowledge of God.
race has ever attributed to itself the possession of
That type of perfect in his rnind
of moral intuitions and indestructible beliefs, the
of positive thinkers
1 Tylor, Hist. Prim. Cult., I. p. 2. to their
a It has indeed been urged (chiefly by writers of the school of Kant), validity, that "presentiments cannot be regarded as proofs of external existence." Compare Mr. Hutton, Essays, I. 26. But such an objection is in troth suicidal, striking at the roots of all knowledge. Spinoza said the stone, if it could think, would account its gravitation a voluntary
beliefs, showing an uniform but independent genesis in different places and times, altogether denied in the school of thought which I have now in view. Mr. Mill, indeed, says with some causticity, "The universal voice of mankind, so often appealed to, is universal only in its discordance."1 Yet M. Comte recognizes "essential inclinations of the intellect," "primordial tendencies," an "inherent need of ideality," and the like. "The universality of religious ideas," writes2 Mr. Herbert Spencer, "their independent evolution among different primitive races, and their great vitality, unite in showing that their source must be
movement; and Leibnitz (probably with the dictum of Thales (Arist. de Anim., I. 2) in his mind) made the same remark of the magnet. But Hegel replies that with thought would come the perception of an infinite variety of motion, which, if limited, would be felt as compulsion. See Wcisse, Vvrlesungen, p. 126.
1 Dissert, II. 498. See Comte, Phil, ros., VI. 642, &c.
2 First Principles, pp. 10, 14. And again (p. 4), "Admitting, as wo must, that life is impossible unless through a certain agreement between internal convictions and external circumstances; admitting, therefore, that the probabilities are always in favour of the truth, or at least the partial truth of a conviction; we must admit that the convictions entertained by many minds in common are the most likely to have some foundation." Cicero, Nat. P., I. xvii., says indeed the same thing. Dc quo omnium natura consentit, id verum esse neccsse est. "No pre-assurance common to a whole species does in any instance prove delusivo. All other prophecies of nature have their exact fulfilment in every other ingrafted word of promise. Nature is found true to her word; and is it in her noblest creature that she tells her first lie?" —Coleridge, A. P., p. 277. Mr. Mill, Logic, II. 466, sees a fallacy of reasoning in a circle in this assertion of natural or instinctive sentiments among mankind. But he has no right to demand these generalizations, any more than others in nature, to be unexceptionable and not approximate.
deep-seated instead of superficial." "A postulate which is not consciously asserted, but unconsciously involved, and which is unconsciously involved not by one man or body of men, but by numerous bodies of men, who diverge in countless ways and degrees in the rest of their beliefs, has a warrant far transcending any that can be usually shown." "That religious instincts," says Mr. Lecky, "are as truly a part of our nature as are our appetites and our nerves, is a fact which all history establishes, and which forms one of the strongest proofs of the reality of that unseen world to which the soul of man continually tends."1 Is their testimony, then, negatived or overthrown, is the light that is in them darkened by our increasing acquaintance with the regularity of events in nature, with the evolution of animal life, or with the automatic development of faculties? Of this class of notions, it may They are suffice to remark that even if instincts be, as Mr. sistent Darwin believes, "inherited habits," this does not theory of
1 Hist. European Morals, I. 340. Mr. Mill, Examination, p. 503, ff., contends that we are not conscious of free-will, but of responsibility implying free-will. We are, he admits, conscious of a feeling that we might have chosen differently had we pre/erred to do so. By responsibility is meant not the fact of future punishment, but the sense that it is right we should be punished. This, argues Mr. Mill, is a natural deterrent, and it enables a man to help acting as he does. If so, it renders him justly liable to punishment. I cannot see how it does on the theory of Necessity, which admits, as Mr. Mill (p. 511) half seems to perceive, no such saving clause. It is of course always open to analyze Conscience into association; viz. a gradually formed conviction that as we are accountable to man, so wo are to the Deity. But such an explanation really decides nothing.