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has already been said will enable us to dis- | the various phrases and terms connected tocriminate them with sufficient accuracy. gether by correlation and affinity, that it is The philosophical mode appeals chiefly to hard to speak in the way of description or facts of observation, and admits only that illustration, without seeming to be begging part of theology which is comprised in what the question by the mere use of the necessary is styled Natural Religion; the theological terms. But there is here no begging of the mode, without omitting to notice the argu- question; and nothing is sought to be insiments of the philosopher
, admits and gives - nuated. A feeling would be in vain defined the chief weight to dogmas of Revelation to him who has not felt it; and it is lawful It follows, of course, that the theological to use any terms which are fitted to remind treatment of the question is directly interest- men of what they have felt. But perhaps it ing only to persons who believe the dogmas will be best, in order to elicit the idea, to to be true; though it can hardly fail to have allege an example. Take, therefore, the folsome indirect interest for many who disbe- lowing account of a crime which might move lieve them, since it treats of ideas and be a man to thank God that Tophet is ordained liefs which have swayed, and still sway, the of old. “Kirke was also,” says Lord Macauthoughts and deeds of a great part of civi- lay, “ in his own coarse and ferocious way, lized mankind.
a man of pleasure ; and nothing is more proSince the vulgar notion of moral desert bable than that he employed his power for will
occupy a very prominent place in our the purpose of gratifying his licentious appediscussion, it is necessary to explain with tites. It was reported that he conquered the perfect accuracy what is meant by the term; virtue of a beautiful woman by promising to and here it is to be observed that I am only spare the life of one to whom she was strongexplaining, not attempting to prove. It is a ly attached, and that, after she had yielded, matter of notoriety that, from the most an- he showed her, suspended on the gallows, cient times of which we have any record the lifeless remains of him for whose sake down to the present day, men in general have she had sacrificed her honour.” Kirke is been accustomed to use certain phrases acquitted by the historian, for lack of which betoken some feeling of indignation sufficient evidence; but the truth of the against vice, and approbation of virtue, say- story is nothing to the point—it is enough if ing that bad deeds deserved punishment it be possible. And there is no doubt that or justly brought punishment on the doer, the thing has happened before now: others and that good deeds deserved a reward, and besides Kirke have been accused of the crime, so forth. Numerous passages from all sorts and it has been brought home to some of of authors, prophets and poets, historians them. Now the desire which most persons and philosophers, witnessing to this feeling, feel, that a crime of such treachery and will readily occur to the memory of any man barbarity should meet with condign punishwho has read much in any language. Com- ment, is a feeling which cannot, to their mon speech is so full of words to express satisfaction, be resolved into any
elements. these ideas that no man can grow up in civi- They do not think, for example, that it is aclized society without acquiring some appre-counted for by reflecting that punishment is hension of them; nor have those persons desirable in order that criminals may be inwho have expressly recorded their disbelief duced to reform themselves, or in order that of the doctrine implied in the use of the they may be induced not to injure the innoterms ever pretended that they were unable cent. What is the origin of the feeling, and to understand the terms themselves
. Nor whether it is natural or acquired, is nothing would it be possible to convey the ideas by to the point; nor are we concerned to determeans of a definition into the mind of a mine whether people are right or wrong in man who should affect to attach no meaning thinking as they do think. It is enough that to the terms; for it is the function of defi- most men have felt something leading them nitions, not to put new ideas into the mind, to speak as though there were, in their judgbut to separate off from the rest a part of the ment, some kind of natural relation between ideas already there. In short, nothing fur- vice and punishment, virtue and reward, so ther can be said by way of explaining more that, as they would express it, the one ought clearly what is meant by the vulgar notion of to follow the other. moral desert, which might be defined to be It will appear presently that this point an abstract quality, metaphorically attributed has not been dwelt upon at such length for to actions in the same way that qualities of nothing. Enough has at least been said to sense, such as colour, are attributed to mate- make clear the following account of the real rial bodies.
issue of the
philosophical controversy about So deeply are the marks of this notion im- the will. The question was this, whether printed upon language, and so intimately are the vulgar notion of moral desert is a real or
a fantastic notion. Most people hold that it is for its own sake, and only devised their a real notion. That is to say, they hold that theory of the will in order to support their the relation between vice and punishment, to opinion about the vulgar notion; while the which the feeling above described is supposed Philosophical Necessitarians were obliged to witness, and which the vulgar notion of mo- by their analysis of the facts to deny the ral desert takes for granted, is a real relation; reality of the vulgar notion. From this we and that they are not only intelligible, but also should expect to find the result of the Necesspeaking the truth, when they say that vice sitarian analysis much more luminous and ought to be punished even though no ulterior intelligible than the result of the Libertarian benefit, whether to the criminal or to society, analysis ; and so we do find it. The anabe secured by the punishment. On the other lysis of the facts of volition was the strength hand certain individuals, such as Priestley, of Necessity and the weakness of Freewill
. have held that the vulgar notion of moral It would perhaps be difficult to supply the desert is a fantastic notion—that there is in Libertarians with a better form of words reality no such relation as that to which the than that which they devised; but this has feeling of moral indignation is supposed to always been the sport of their opponents. I witness, and that criminals ought to be pun- will quote two statements of it. The first is ished only in order to their own benefit or from the hand of an enemy to the doctrine; to the benefit of others. Priestley, indeed, but it is quite fair :—" To
that a man
prove was bound in consistency to maintain that has freewill in the sense
apposite to the they ought not to be punished at all; but we doctrine of the Libertarian, "he ought to need not tie him down strictly to the rather feel that he can do different things while the foolish remark quoted above. That remark, motives remain precisely the same."* The
way, affords a good illustration of the second account, from the hand of a friend difficulties which beset a man who, adopting to the doctrine, is to the same purpose ; that a theory opposed to the common sentiments is to say, it asserts that the writer does feel of mankind, finds himself obliged either to what Hartley says he ought to feel :-" In use language which tacitly assumes what he every act of volition, I am fully conscious expressly repudiates, or else to disgust his that I can at this moment act in either of readers by the perpetual recurrence of tedi- two ways, and that, all the antecedent pheous and strange periphrases. But in many nomena being precisely the same, I may de cases they cannot be let off by a mere change termine one way to-day, and another way of words. They show by what they say and to-morrow.”+ I myself hold the Doctrine do that their minds, no less than their ton- of Freewill; that is to say, I hold that the gues, are still held in bondage by the old pre- vulgar notion of moral desert is a real nojudice which they affect to despise. Thus tion. But I cannot help assenting to Mr. the unitarian Priestley cannot contain his Mill's criticism of this passage from Dean indignation at the doctrines of the infidel Mansel. I Gibbon-a double inconsistency; for the If this account of the real scope of the one had the same right to his infidelity that controversy be correct, it will suggest a susthe other had to his unitarianism; and even picion that only two theories of the will are if he had not, it was impossible to find a possible, and that all others which have ever ground for indignation at anything, under been propounded are confused presentations the Doctrine of Philosophical Necessity, of the one or the other of these two. This, as Priestley himself very distinctly remarked I think, may be easily shown. If we exaon another occasion when he happened not mine the various theories which have been to feel indignant.
proposed, it will appear that, by paring off The vulgar notion of moral desert being excrescences and reconciling inconsistencies, the real point at issue in the controversy their number may be reduced to two, one of about the will, the two opinions about it which represents the affirmation, and the were of course espoused by different sides. Other the denial, of the reality of the vulgar Those who maintained that there is free will notion of moral desert. The former is comdid so in order that they might be able to monly called the Doctrine of Freewilloi the maintain that the vulgar notion of moral de- latter has been called by different names, sert is a real notion; and those who main- and there is some difficulty about finding & tained that the notion is a fantastic notion name for it, because its adherents are not at were obliged to do so because they denied all agreed upon the fitting title, and those that the will is free. There is therefore this important difference between the positions of the two sides with regard to the
* Hartley, Theory of the Human Mind, ed. by
Priestley, 1775, p. 341. point at issue, that the Libertarians (as we
+ Mansel, Prolegomena Logica, p. 166. may call them) cared nothing about the will | Examination of Hamilton, 2d ed. p. 503, pote.
who favour one title are apt to complain | Doctrine of the Causation of Human Ac that the use of any other is unfair, As we tions is a rather long phrase, I will venture have seen, Priestley calls it the Doctrine of to substitute for it on all occasions the word Philosophical Necessity; and this title is Determinism, which Mr. Mill notices with also used by Hartley, who, however, seems some approval. Then it will be my object to prefer to talk about the Mechanism of to show that these four doctrines may be Human Actions. However, it matters little reduced to two. I shall first attempt to what we call the doctrine, provided we are show that Asiatic Fatalism does not properly careful to attach the right idea to the name. touch the will at all, nor yet the vulgar noTo me the phrase Philosophical Necessity tion of moral desert; that is, it must be reseems to be much the best that has been jected altogether from the list of theories of proposed; but all coupling of the word the will. I shall next attempt to show that necessity with his opinions gives so much the distinction which Mr. Mill draws between offence to Mr. Mill, who is the most illustri- Modified Fatalism and Determinism leaves to ous of the modern defenders of the doctrine, both the same theory of the will and the that I will not use the word.
same opinion about the vulgar notion of If we except manifest vagaries, the opi- moral desert; that is, if the accidental exnions on the question before us may be, crescences be pared off from Modified FaI think, counted at first sight to be four, talism, it becomes Determinism pure and three of which are described by Mr. Mill as simple. If this much can be made out, the follows: “ Real Fatalism,” he says, “is of conflicting theories will have been reduced two kinds. Pure, or Asiatic fatalism, the to the two above named, viz. Determinism fatalism of the Edipus, holds that our ac- and Freewill. tions do not depend upon our desires. First, then, let us consider Asiatic FatalWhatever our wishes may be, a superior ism. According to the most obvious interpower, or an abstract destiny, will overrule pretation of Mr. Mill's words that our them, and compel us to act, not as we desire, actions do not depend upon our desires": but in the manner predestined. Our love of it would appear that, in the scheme of good and hatred of evil are of no efficacy, Asiatic Fatalism, Fate makes use of invoand though in themselves they may be vir- luntary motions of the muscles in order to tuous, as far as conduct is concerned it is effect its decrees; as if a man should atunavailing to cultivate them. The other tempt to sheathe his sword, and should be kind, Modified Fatalism I will call it, holds compelled to execute an automatic thrust at that our actions are determined by our will, the breast of a friend. But this is not the our will by our desires, and our desires by Fatalism of the Asiatics, nor is it the Fatalthe joint influence of the motives presented ism of the Edipus. If a Turk refuses to to us and of our individual character; but get out of the way of a cannon-ball
, it is not that, our character having been made for us, because he thinks that Fate would paralyse and not by us, we are not responsible for it, or convulse his muscles, but because he nor for the actions it leads to, and should in thinks that another ball would be ready for vain attempt to alter them. The true doc- him both on the right hand and on the left. trine of the Causation of human actions And the common story leaves (Edipus in maintains, in opposition to both, that not possession of just so much free will, whatonly our conduct, but our character, is in ever that may be, as anybody else. In the part amenable to our will; that we can, by scheme of Fatalism, as it really exists, men employing the proper means, improve our are left unfettered in just the same sense as character; and that if our character is such in the scheme of Freewill, and they act in that while it remains what it is it necessi- just the same way, whether that is to be tates us to do wrong, it will be just to apply styled free or bond; but their actions do not motives which will necessitate us to strive affect the course of events, because, as the for its improvement, and so emancipate our- phrase goes, it comes to the same thing in selves from the other necessity; in other the end. Nothing hinders them from willwords, we are under a moral obligation to ing or from acting; but Fate so disposes seek the improvement of our moral cha- matters that their own actions, whatever they
If we add Freewill to this list, it may be, are the means to bring about the will, I believe, comprise all the doctrines fated event. And such Fatalists seem to worthy of notice. We shall then have four hold—and there is no reason why they altogether-Asiatic Fatalism, Modified Fatal- should not—the reality of the vulgar notion ism, the True Doctrine of the Causation of of moral desert, in just the same sense as the Human Actions, and Freewill. As the True great bulk of the rest of mankind. That is
to say, actual Fatalists, so far as one can * Examination, etc., p. 516.
judge by what they say and do, seem to
hold the Doctrine of Freewill; and there is can be pointed out between the vulgar nono reason why they should not, though they tion of moral desert as it then prevailed and are not obliged to hold it. In short, Fatal- as it prevails now; though, which is quite ism is irrelevant to the question. A man another matter, there was, and is, a good does not reject Freewill by acquiescing in deal of difference of opinion about the speexternal coercion, neither does he accept it. cific acts to which this quality of desert The fact that some external power inflexibly should be attributed. Not only is Fatalism controls the course of physical events is irre- speculatively compatible with Freewill
, but levant both to every theory of the facts of in real life the two are actually found to be volition and also to every opinion about the held, or confused, together; and the degree vulgar notion of moral desert. It is not it in which a particular man is a Fatalist may self a theory of the will in any sense, and it vary from time to time according to circumis equally compatible with any and every stances, sometimes without his being aware theory.
of the change. So far I have been speaking of Fatalism The current opinion that Fatalism is inas it is actually professed; but my remarks compatible with Freewill can be easily exwould apply equally well to the Asiatic Fa- plained. It seems to arise from the fact talism of Mr. Mill if he intended his words that Fatalism does tend to affect practice
, to bear their literal meaning. The fact that and to affect it in a way that looks like paramy actions do not depend upon my desires lysing the will, though it is not really so. is irrelevant to any and every theory of the If a man is firmly persuaded that, whatever will. If I attempt to sheathe my sword, and he does, everything must turn out the same my arm-:texvūs kaltep Tà Trapałeav- in the end, then, not caring to take useless uéva ToŨ owuatos pópla—flies up against trouble, he will perhaps sit still and let things my desire, and the weapon is thrust into the take their course. But in so doing he is body of a friend, that is quite beside the neither denying that he has a will nor that question of volition. The involuntary spasm his will is free, any more than a man denies of the muscles is an external force; and my that he has a free will by refusing to atwill has no more concern in the act done tempt to escape from prison when he thinks than if it had been done by another man. that the walls are too high and the guards The spasm,
which I cannot help, is no more too watchful. incompatible with the freedom or the bond- In the next place, as to Modified Fatalism. age of my will, than is the fall of an ava- Here it is my object to show that two sepalanche down Mont Blanc, which also I can- rate theories of the will cannot be got out of not help. I am equally guilty if I try to Modified Fatalism and Determinism-not stab my friend and fail to do it, and equally to show that there is no difference between innocent if I try not to stab hi
the theories of the will which they inforced to stab him against my desire. This volve. My view of the matter is this, is true upon any view of Fatalism Proper, that Determinism is an intelligible and ten; which is not really concerned with the will, able theory of the will, and that Modified but with an inexorable procession of external Fatalism is merely Determinism with the events.
addition of some irrelevant and false In the most philosophically perfect form sitions. If we pare off these excrescences
, in which we can imagine it to exist, Fatalism Modified Fatalism becomes Determinism would maintain that every event whatsoever, pure and simple, and there is thus only one whether great or small, is equally and inevit- theory of the will to be got out of the two. ably determined beforehand from all eternity; Let us now see how the matter stands. but, as it is held in real life, it is a partial and Determinism really is a theory of the will
, capricious system, in which the influence of in a sense in whicň Freewill is not. The fate is limited to certain events of particular Libertarian constructs his theory of the will interest either to the world at large or to only in order to defend his opinion about the individual. The Turk believes that the vulgar notion of moral desert; but the there is a moment inexorably appointed for Determinist is forced only by his theory his death, and for great events of good and of the will to adopt his opinion about the ill fortune; but he does not extend this be- vulgar notion. Therefore the Determinist's lief to trifles; and even though he were analysis of the facts of volition is likely to forced by argument to do so in words, it is be much more significant than that of the probable that he would soon forget the im- Libertarian ; and so it is. The result at port of what he had admitted. The same which the Determinist arrives is this, that conclusion seems to follow from an examina- the operation of the will is determined in tion of the fatalist myths of antiquity. No any case by the resultant of all the motives great difference, perhaps no difference at all, (using the word in a wide sense) which ex
ist at a given instant, in a manner analogous will, but the reality of the vulgar notion of
stance, if reason should ultimately fail to This ends the first part of our inquiry, settle the difficulty ; for experience seems which is also the least intricate and labori- rather to show that reason, by itself, seldom
Before proceeding further, I will sum is enough to establish any speculative proup briefly the points which I shall now take position which is not revolting to common as proved :-(1st), The true point at issue in sense. Mere reason must not be suffered to the controversy was not the freedom of the run wild any more than mere passion ; and