Billeder på siden


else.' 'You are both right in your premises,' exclaims a follower of Leibnitz, or rather, we must say, Leibnitz himself, for in this point he has no follower; but you are wrong in your conclusion. The mind is immaterial, and there is an external world, but there is no action of the one upon the other; there is simply exact synchronism and parallelism of movements, as between those of two exactly regulated chronometers.' 'We believe you are all wrong,' exclaims that greatest of all philosophers, the Common Sense of mankind; we believe that matter and mind are two totally distinct substances, but that, nevertheless, in some way perfectly inscrutable to us, and absolutely concealed from that very mind which is the subject of the conjuration, Infinite Intellect and Infinite Power have solved the mystery of their interaction; that to pure immaterial spirit the actual existence of a material world is immediately revealed in consciousness. We see the parts of the puzzle, but how it is put together we know no more - than a philosopher!' And this simple confession of facts, that of ignorance amongst them— when, as here, it is absolutely necessary, -is, in our judgment, the truest and the best philosophy, and devout and religious philosophy into the bargain.

We think the matter is much the same in the analogous controversy of the freedom of the will. There is a point at which the great bulk of those who have taken opposite sides may unite in the admission of facts, and exercise 'that charity' towards each other's hypothesis 'which thinketh no evil,' though they cannot reduce to one whole the phenomena they respectively admit. Between some of the parties, as in the other case, the repugnance is utterly irreconcilable.

'I think,' says one, that volitions are effects, which, like other effects, are involved in their causes; that the causes of volition are motives; that as are the motives, the first and earliest of which are in every sense provided for us, such will be the volitions; whether you choose to call them "moral" causes and effects, or "physical" causes and effects, makes, in my judgment, no difference; moral necessity is the same as physical necessity; and, therefore, man has no freedom of will no "moral liberty.": Here the great bulk of mankind (we think quite wisely) allow the man the full benefit or convenience of his own hypothesis, and deny that he at least has any power to deliberate with them on the matter: that he should think as he does is, it seems, a matter of necessity; that they should think as they do is also a matter of necessity; and, therefore, much cannot come out of a controversy with him. A second (though it must be confessed that he is getting a very rare phenomenon, if indeed this species of philosopher be not absolutely extinct) says, 'The will, to be free, must be superior to all motive; the arms of the lever must be in exact equipoise; and then, by its own sovereign act, — performed in the "liberty of indifference" the will must say what it will choose.' 'The ass would starve between the two bundles of hay,' exclaim the bulk of mankind. 'There must be some motive for performing even the most trivial action for choosing any one thing rather than another; but even if it were possible to act thus without motive in any such trivial cases, (for example, "whether or not we should scratch our head in deep thought," as Locke says,) still, action, in all the most important cases of life, and those emphatically moral, would be impossible, because there the

liberty of indifference cannot exist; motives, and those of the most powerful character, are in active operation.' It is further urged, that if they were possible, the actions so performed would be devoid of all moral value, since all actions take their moral complexion from the quality of the motives which prompt their performance; and the only consequence of this sort of liberty would be the liberty of acting like a consummate fool, utterly without reason and in obedience to chance. After listening to such an hypothesis, the great bulk of mankind dismiss this philosopher too, with the quiet remark, that his inclination for this hypothesis having been the result of pure chance, and not reason, it can have no weight with them; and that they do not wish a liberty to do anything that is unreasonable.'*

A third says, 'I feel that I am free that I have the power to do or not to do this and that. I acknowledge the influence of motives; that to act contrary to the greatest apparent good would seem impossible; and that, therefore, if the will acts contrary to it, it does perform a seeming impossibility; I cannot explain all the mysteries of this fact, and I cannot admit the certainty of volition as dependent on motive: it is contingent - absolutely contingent -but I feel that I am free.'

'I agree with you in that last fact of conscious

* Locke says, 'But to give a right view of this mistaken part of liberty, let me ask, Would any one be a changeling because he is less determined by wise considerations than a wise man? Is it worth the name of freedom to be at liberty to play the fool, and draw shame and misery upon the man's self? If to break

loose from the conduct of reason be liberty, true liberty, madmen and fools are the only freemen; but yet, I think, nobody would choose to be mad for the sake of such liberty, but he that is mad already.'—B. ii. c. 21. § 50,

ness,' says a fourth; but I fancy I can see one step further in the mystery, though itself is accompanied with a new difficulty. I think that volition as dependent on motive is inevitably certain, and not contingent; but I do not admit that this certainty of volition, which many call "necessity," is so called except from a resemblance in the one fact of certainty; the causes and effects are entirely different; so much so that, admitting the certainty of the volitions on preponderant motive, so far from feeling as I should do were the causes and effects physical, I feel that, provided there be knowledge of duty and freedom from external constraint, then still the agent is free, and even in proportion to the certainty of his I acknowledge I cannot see distinctly how this should be; how man is most free, when his actions most seem to resemble machinery; how he is most virtuous, when he feels the motives to it to be irresistible; and how therefore God is most perfectly free in his goodness, because to be anything else to him is morally impossible!'

Now the third and the fourth of these parties, though they have, like the ordinary advocates for the union of body and mind, their insurmountable difficulties, essentially agree in the great facts of man's moral freedom, and all the consequences which result from it; in his being capable of praise and blame, of punishment and reward; the hypothesis of neither does, in fact, practically disturb the conditions of human action; and therefore each party ought to abstain from the too customary invectives against the other.*

* We cannot refrain from wishing that all philosophers, but especially all theologians, would carefully ponder the counsels of

We cannot say that M. Cousin has quite exemplified this equity in dealing with Locke's system of liberty. He says, 'Locke has then suppressed liberty, by refusing it to the will, and by seeking it either in the thought or in the motive power; he destroys it, and he believes that he has destroyed the question itself of liberty. But the belief of the human race protests. against the abolition of liberty, and the whole history of philosophy protests against the abolition of the question.'*

If the above charge holds of Locke, it holds much more of Leibnitz; for ourselves, we think it holds of neither, and that of both as well as of all moderate advocates of the doctrine unwisely called that of 'moral necessity,' it may be said that they leave the question of human nature and its conditions of duty just where it was.

Meantime, it remains true, that in this as in so many other cases, speculation carried to its furthest limits, brings us in contact with facts, the reconciliation of which is beyond us, involving perplexities which are tremendous paradoxes, and which look like contradictions. We cannot believe that they are so, because they are, in effect, reconciled, though we know not how; but since we find that seeming contradictions are, in fact, reconciled, it ought to inspire us with extreme docility and modesty in dealing with all mysteries merely on the ground that they are such, if we have independent evidence of the truth of the separate facts which constitute them. In relation to many such mysteries, whether of Nature, of Provi

[ocr errors]

moderation, in relation to this subject, so admirably inculcated in Archbishop Whateley's Appendix' to King's Discourse on Predestination.'

*Lecture xxv.

« ForrigeFortsæt »