Billeder på siden

prefers it to a removal, is truly voluntary. Voluntary then is not opposed to necessary, but to involuntary. For a man may prefer what he can do to what he cannot do; the state he is in to its absence or change, though necessity has made it in itself unalterable.

SECT. 12. Liberty, what.-As it is in the motions of the body, so it is in the thoughts of our minds: where any one is such that we have power to take it up, or lay it by, according to the preference of the mind, there we are at liberty. A waking man being under the necessity of having some ideas constantly in his mind, is not at liberty to think or not to think, no more than he is at liberty, whether his body shall touch any other or no; but whether he will remove his contemplation from one idea to another is many times in his choice; and then he is, in respect of his ideas, as much at liberty as he is in respect of bodies he rests on: he can at pleasure remove himself from one to another. But yet some ideas to the mind, like some motions to the body, are such as in certain circumstances it cannot avoid, nor obtain their absence by the utmost effort it can use. A man on the rack is not at liberty to lay by the idea of pain, and divert himself with other contemplations: and sometimes a boisterous passion hurries our thoughts, as a hurricane does our bodies, without leaving us the liberty of thinking on other things, which we would rather choose. But as soon as the mind regains the power to stop or continue, begin or forbear, any of these motions of the body without, or thoughts within, according as it thinks fit to prefer either to the other, we then consider the man as a free agent again. SECT. 13. Necessity, what.—Wherever thought is wholly wanting, or the power to act or forbear according to the direction of thought; there necessity takes place. This in an agent capable of volition, when the beginning or continuation of any action is contrary to that preference of his mind, is called compulsion; when the hindering or stopping any action is contrary to his volition, it is called restraint. Agents that have no thought, no volition at all, are in every thing necessary agents.

SECT. 14. Liberty belongs not to the will.—If this be so (as I imagine it is) I leave it to be considered whether it may not help to put an end to that long agitated, and I think unreasonable, because unintelligible, question, viz. whether man's will be free or no? For, if I mistake not, it follows, from what I have said, that the question itself 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; liberty being as little applicable to the will as swiftness of motion is to sleep, or squareness to virtue. Every one would laugh at the absurdity of such a question as either of these; because it is obvious that the modifications of motion belong not to sleep, nor the difference of figure to virtue; and when any one well considers it, I think he will as plainly perceive that liberty, which is but a power, belongs only to agents, and cannot be an attribute or modification of the will, which is also but a power.

SECT. 15. Volition.-Such is the difficulty of explaining and giving clear notions of internal actions, by sounds, that I must here warn my reader that ordering, directing, choosing, preferring, &c. which I have made use of, will not distinctly enough express volition, unless he will reflect on what he himself does when he wills. For example, preferring, which seems perhaps best to express the act of volition, does it not precisely. For though a man would prefer flying to walking, yet who can say he ever wills it? Volition, it is plain, is an act of the mind knowingly exerting that dominion it takes itself to have over any part of the man, by employing it in, or witholding it from, any particular action. And what is the will, but the faculty to do this? And is that faculty any thing more in effect than power, the power of the mind to determine its thoughts, to the producing, continuing, or stopping any action, as far as it depends on For can it be denied, that whatever agent has a power to think on


its own actions, and to prefer their doing or omission, either to other, has that faculty called will? Will then is nothing but such a power. Liberty, on the other side, is the power a man has to do or forbear doing any particular action, according as its doing or forbearance has the actual preference in the mind; which is the same thing as to say, according as he himself wills it.

SECT. 16. Powers belonging to agents.-It is plain, then, that the will is nothing but one power or ability, and freedom another power or ability; so that to ask, whether the will has freedom, is to ask whether one power has another power, one ability another ability? a question at first sight too grossly absurd to make a dispute, or need an answer. For who is it that sees not that powers belong only to agents, and are attributes only of substances, and not of powers themselves? So that this way of putting the question, viz. whether the will be free? is in effect to ask, whether the will be a substance, an agent? or at least to suppose it, since freedom can properly be attributed to nothing else. If freedom can with any propriety of speech be applied to power, it may be attributed to the power that is in a man to produce or forbear producing motion in parts of his body, by choice or preference; which is that which denominates him free, and is freedom itself. But if any one should ask whether freedom were free, he would be suspected not to understand well what he said; and he would be thought to deserve Midas's ears, who, knowing that rich was a denomination for the possession of riches, should demand whether riches themselves were rich.

SECT. 17. However, the name faculty, which men have given to this power called the will, and whereby they have been led into a way of talking of the will as acting, may, by an appropriation that disguises its true sense, serve a little to palliate the absurdity; yet the will in truth signifies nothing but a power, or ability, to prefer or choose: and when the will, under the name of a faculty, is considered, as it is, barely as an ability to do something, the absurdity in saying it is free, or not free, will easily discover itself. For if it be reasonable to suppose and talk of faculties as distinct beings that can act (as we do, when we say the will orders, and the will is free,) it is fit that we should make a speaking faculty, and a walking faculty, and a dancing faculty, by which those actions are produced which are but several modes of motion; as well as we make the will and understanding to be faculties, by which the actions of choosing and perceiving are produced, which are but several modes of thinking; and we may as properly say, that it is the singing faculty sings, and the dancing faculty dances; as that the will chooses, or that the understanding conceives; or as is usual, that the will directs the understanding, or the understanding obeys or obeys not the will: it being altogether as proper and intelligible to say, that the power of speaking directs the power of singing, or the power of singing obeys or disobeys the power of speaking.

SECT. 18. This way of talking, nevertheless, has prevailed, and, as I guess, produced great confusion. For these being all different powers in the mind, or in the man, to do several actions, he exerts them as he thinks fit: but the power to do one action is not operated on by the power of doing another action. For the power of thinking operates not on the power of choosing, nor the power of choosing on the power of thinking; no more than the power of dancing operates on the power of singing, or the power of singing on the power of dancing; as any one, who reflects on it, will easily perceive: and yet this is it which we say, when we thus speak, that the will operates on the understanding, or the understanding on the will.

SECT. 19. I grant, that this or that actual thought may be the occasion of volition, or exercising the power a man has to choose; or the actual choice of the mind, the cause of actual thinking on this or that thing:

as the actual singing of such a tune may be the cause of dancing such a dance; and the actual dancing of such a dance, the occasion of singing such a tune. But in all these it is not one power that operates on another; but it is the mind that operates, and exerts these powers; it is the man that does the action; it is the agent that has power, or is able to do. For powers are relations, not agents: and that which has the power or not the power to operate, is that alone which is or is not free, and not the power itself. For freedom, or not freedom, can belong to nothing but what has or has not a power to act.

SECT. 20. Liberty belongs not to the will.-The attributing to faculties that which belonged not to them, has given occasion to this way of talking: but the introducing into discourses concerning the mind, with the name of faculties, a notion of their operating, has, I suppose, as little advanced our knowledge in that part of ourselves, as the great use and mention of the like invention of faculties, in the operations of the body, has helped us in the knowledge of physic. Not that I deny there are faculties, both in the body and mind: they both of them have their powers of operating, else neither the one nor the other could operate. For nothing can operate that is not able to operate; and that is not able to operate that has no power to operate. Nor do I deny, that those words, and the like, are to have their place in the common use of languages, that have made them current. It looks like too much affectation wholly to lay them by: and philosophy itself, though it likes not a gaudy dress, yet when it appears in public, must have so much complacency as to be clothed in the ordinary fashion and language of the country, so far as it can consist with truth and perspicuity. But the fault has been, that faculties have been spoken of and represented as so many distinct agents. For it being asked, what it was that digested the meat in our stomachs? it was a ready and very satisfactory answer, to say, that it was the digestive faculty. What was it that made any thing come out of the body? the expulsive faculty. What moved? the motive faculty. And so in the mind the intellectual faculty, or the understanding, understood; and the elective faculty, or the will, willed or commanded. This is, in short, to say, that the ability to digest, digested; and the ability to move, moved; and the ability to understand, understood. For faculty, ability, and power, I think, are but different names of the same things which ways of speaking, when put into more intelligible words, will, I think, amount to this much; that digestion is performed by something that is able to digest, motion by something able to move, and understanding by something able to understand. And in truth it would be very strange if it should be otherwise; as strange as it would be for a man to be free without being able to be free.

SECT. 21. But to the agent or man.-To return then to the inquiry about liberty, I think the question is not proper, whether the will be free, but whether a man be free. Thus, I think,

1. That so far as any one can, by the direction or choice of his mind, preferring the existence of any action to the nonexistence of that action, and vice versa, make it to exist, or not exist; so far he is free. For if 1 can, by a thought directing the motion of my finger, make it move when it was at rest, or vice versa, it is evident, that in respect of that I am free: and if I can, by a like thought of my mind, preferring one to the other, produce either words or silence, I am at liberty to speak or hold my peace; and as far as this power reaches, of acting, or not acting, by the determination of his own thoughts preferring either, so far a man is free. For how can we think any one freer than to have the power to do what he will? And so far as any one can, by preferring any action to its not being, or rest to any action, produce that action or rest, so far can he do what he will. For such a preferring of action to its absence is the willing of it; and we can scarce tell how to imagine any being freer than to be able to do what he

wills. So that in respect of actions within the reach of such a power in him, a man seems as free as it is possible for freedom to make him.

SECT. 22. In respect of willing a man is not free.-But the inquisitive mind of man, willing to shift off from himself, as far he can, all thoughts of guilt, though it be by putting himself into a worse state than that of fatal necessity, is not content with this: freedom, unless it reaches farther than this, will not serve the turn: and it passes for a good plea, that a man is not free at all, if he be not as free to will as he is to act what he wills. Concerning a man's liberty, there yet therefore is raised this farther question, whether a man be free to will? which I think is what is meant, when it is disputed whether the will be free. And as to that I imagine,

SECT. 23.-2. That willing, or volition, being an action, and freedom consisting in a power of acting or not acting, a man in respect of willing, or the act of volition, when any action in his power is once proposed to his thoughts as presently to be done, cannot be free. The reason whereof is very manifest: for it being unavoidable that the action depending on his will should exist or not exist; and its existence or not existence, following perfectly the determination and preference of his will; he cannot avoid willing the existence or not existence of that action; it is absolutely necessary that he will the one or the other; i. e. prefer the one to the other: since one of them must necessarily follow and that which does follow, follows by the choice and determination of his mind, that is, by his willing it: for if he did not will it, it would not be. So that in respect of the act of willing, a man in such a case is not free: liberty consisting in a power to act, or not to act; which in regard of volition, a man, upon such a proposal, has not. For it is unavoidably necessary to prefer the doing or forbearance of an action in a man's power, which is once so proposed to his thoughts; a man must necessarily will the one or the other of them, upon which preference or volition the action or its forbearance certainly follows, and is truly voluntary. But the act of volition, or preferring one of the two, being that which he cannot avoid, a man in respect of that act of willing is under a necessity, and so cannot be free; unless necessity and freedom can consist together, and a man can be free and bound at once.

SECT. 24. This then is evident, that in all proposals of present action, a man is not at liberty to will or not to will, because he cannot forbear willing: liberty consisting in a power to act or to forbear acting, and in that only. For a man that sits still is said yet to be at liberty, because he can walk if he wills it. But if a man sitting still has not a power to remove himself, he is not at liberty; so likewise a man falling down a precipice, though in motion, is not at liberty, because he cannot stop that motion if he would. This being so, it is plain that a man that is walking, to whom it is proposed to give off walking, is not at liberty whether he will determine himself to walk, or give off walking, or no: he must necessarily prefer one or the other of them, walking or not walking; and so it is in regard of all other actions in our power so proposed, which are the far greater number. For considering the vast number of voluntary actions that succeed one another every moment that we are awake in the course of our lives, there are but few of them that are thought on, or proposed to the will till the time they are to be done; and in all such actions, as I have shown, the mind, in respect of willing, has not a power to act, or not to act, wherein consist liberty. The mind in that case has not a power to forbear willing; it cannot avoid some determination concerning them, let the consideration be as short, the thought as quick, as it will; it either leaves the man in the state he was before thinking, or changes it; continues the action, or puts an end to it. Whereby it is manifest, that it orders and directs one, in preference to or with neglect of the other, and thereby either the continuation or change becomes unavoidably voluntary.

SECT. 25. The will determined by something without it.—Since then it is plain, that in most cases a man is not at liberty, whether he will will or no; the next thing demanded, is, whether a man be at liberty to will which of the two he pleases, motion or rest? This question carries the absurdity of it so manifestly in itself, that one might thereby sufficiently be convinced that liberty concerns not the will. For to ask, whether a man be at liberty to will either motion or rest, speaking or silence, which he pleases, is to ask, whether a man can will what he wills, or be pleased with what he is pleased with? A question which, I think, needs no answer; and they who can make a question of it, must suppose one will to determine the acts of another, and another to determine that; and so on in infinitum.

SECT. 26. To avoid these and the like absurdities, nothing can be of greater use, than to establish in our minds determined ideas of the things under consideration. If the ideas of liberty and volition were well fixed in our understandings, and carried along with us in our minds, as they ought, through all the questions that are raised about them, I suppose a great part of the difficulties that perplex men's thoughts, and entangle their understandings, would be much easier resolved, and we should perceive where the confused signification of terms, or where the nature of the thing caused the obscurity.

SECT. 27. Freedom.-First, then, it is carefully to be remembered, that freedom consists in the dependence of the existence, or not existence of any action, upon our volition of it; and not in the dependence of any action, or its contrary, on our preference. A man standing on a cliff is at liberty to leap twenty yards downward into the sea, not because he has a power to do the contrary action, which is to leap twenty yards upwards, for that he cannot do; but he is therefore free, because he had a power to leap or not to leap. But if a greater force than his either holds him fast or tumbles him down, he is no longer free in that case; because the doing or forbearance of that particular action is no longer in his power. He that is a close prisoner in a room twenty feet square, being at the north side of his chamber, is at liberty to walk twenty feet southward, because he can walk or not walk it; but is not, at the same time, at liberty to do the contrary, i. e. to walk twenty feet northward.

In this then consists freedom, viz. in our being able to act or not to act, according as we shall choose or will.

SECT. 28. Volition, what.-Secondly, we must remember, that volition or willing is an act of the mind directing its thought to the production of any action, and thereby exerting its power to produce it. To avoid multiplying of words, I would crave leave here, under the word action, to comprehend the forbearance too of any action proposed; sitting still, or holding one's peace, when walking or speaking are proposed, though mere forbearances, requiring as much the determination of the will, and being as often weighty in their consequences as the contrary actions, may, on that consideration, well enough pass for actions too: but this I say, that I may not be mistaken, if for brevity sake I speak thus.

SECT. 29. What determines the will.-Thirdly, the will being nothing put a power in the mind to direct the operative faculties of a man to motion or rest, as far as they depend on such direction; to the question, what is it determines the will? the true and proper answer is, the mind. For that which determines the general power of directing to this or that particular direction, is nothing but the agent itself exercising the power it has that particular way. If this answer satisfies not, it is plain the meaning of the question, what determines the will? is this, what moves the mind, in every particular instance, to determine its general power of directing to this or that particular motion or rest?. And to this I answer, the motive for continuing in the same state or action, is only the present satisfaction

« ForrigeFortsæt »