« 前へ次へ »
events to be really and truly such in themselves : for from that which is no cause, which has no power, any more than nothing, nothing can follow.
All second causes, that is, all things that exist are, therefore, either parts of the Deity or parts of nature, and in neither case can they be absolutely insignificant, worthless, null, and of no account. Dr Priestley is for having men refer all the good in the universe to God as the author of it, and all the evil that takes place to man or to second causes.
I cannot think that this is sound philosophy nor practical wisdom. The necessarians have evidently borrowed their notions of agency and second causes from the advocates for liberty : for taking up the same unfounded assumption of the libertarians, that action is the absolute beginning of motion, and that any thing short of this is no action at all, and finding that the will was not a cause in the absurd sense supposed by their adversaries, they have concluded that it was no cause at all; not considering whether a cause might not be more properly defined that which produces an effect in consistency with other things than that which produces it independently of them. Action then in any sense of the word is the same as co-operation. It may be asked, whether this account
does not destroy the distinction between active and passive. I answer that it does, if by active be meant unconnected action, and by passive connected action; but not else. That is, if by action be understood the positive determinate tendency or the additional impulse to the production of any effect, and by passiveness an indifference in any agent to this or that motion, except as it is acted upon by, and transmits the efficacy of other causes, this distinction will remain as broad and palpable as ever. Any thing is so far active as it modifies and re-acts upon the original impulse ; it is passive in as far as it neither adds to, nor takes from that original impulse, but merely has a power of receiving and continuing it. This I take to be the practical and philosophical meaning of the terms.
This distinction therefore, applies equally to matter and mind. The explosion of gunpowder cannot be attributed entirely or principally to the spark which ignites it, because the effect is increased a thousand-fold by the inherent qualities of the gunpowder. The motion communicated by one body to another in void space is considered as the mere passive result of the former, because the effect in the second agent is simply the continuation of what it was in the first. So it is in the mind.
Motives do not act upon it simply, or absolutely; but according to the dictates of the understanding or the bias of the will. At one time we yield . to any idle inclination that happens to prevail, and at others resist to the utmost the strongest motives. That is, the mind is itself an agent, one chief determining cause of our volitions. It is on the view taken by the mind of motives, on our disposition to attend to or neglect them, to compare and weigh them, that their effect depends. But the necessarians have always delighted to illustrate the operations of the mind in volition by referring to the impulse.communicated by one billiard-ball to another, or to different weights in a pair of scales. Both which illustrations are as little applicable as possible, because in neither of them is there supposed to be the least activity of action ; that is, the least capacity to resist or increase or alter the impressed force in the thing acted upon. That is, the mind in these similes, is requisite as a merely passive agent, by which I mean a thing perfectly indifferent and nugatory, a mere cypher without any character of its own, that is neither good nor bad, neither deserving of praise nor blame; a cameleon, colourless kind of thing, the sport of external impulses and accidental circum
stances, or of a necessity in which it has itself no share. Thus the responsibility of the mind has been taken from it, and transferred to outward circumstances, and all characters in themselves rendered alike indifferent. This is the necessary consequence of abstracting the influence of motives from the mind on which and by which they act. I prefer exceedingly to the modern instances of a couple of billiardballs, or a pair of scales, the illustration of Chrysophus, the stoic in Cicero, who says, “ Ille igitur qui protrusit cylindrum dedit ei principium motionis, volubilitatem autem non dedit: sic visum objectum imprimet quidem et quasi signabit in animo suam speciem, sed assensio erit in potestate nostrâ. pose I push against a heavy body; if it be square it will not move: if it be cylindrical it will. What the difference of form is to the stone, the difference of disposition is to the mind. In fact, the necessarians, to maintain this doctrine of the nullity of second causes, have been forced to consider every thing as a succession of simple impulses passing from hand to hand : so that there being no fixed point, no resting-place for the imagination, we are perpetually obliged to shift the cause from one object to another: every thing has to be ac
That is, sup
counted for, and referred back to some thing else, and in this ceaseless whirlof fleeting causes all ideas of
power or agency seem to slide from under us. Lest the mind should prove refractory to the laws ascribed to it, they thought it most prudent to deprive it of all activity and power of resistance. They were very absurdly afraid that without this their whole scheme might be overturned, as if though the mind were freed from being the servile drudge of external impulses, it would not still follow the bent of its own nature. The above distinction will, I conceive, set the mind free from one of the shackles imposed on it by the necessarians, namely, that imbecility, helplessness, and indifference, which they have superadded to the regular connexion of cause and effect, though it makes no essential part of it. The mind, according to the advocates for free-will, is a perfectly detached, unconnected, independent cause : according to the necessarians, it is no cause at all: neither branch of the antithesis is true.
2. According to the definition of liberty above given, freedom, that is free agency, is applicable to mind as well as to matter. Free will does not, because will does not, belong to it. By a free agent, I understand, with Hobbes, one that is not hindered from acting according to