ND   Jacques Maritain Center : Psychology / by Michael Maher, S.J.

CHAPTER XIX.

FREE-WILL AND DETERMINISM.

Free-will and Philosophy. -- We have now reached one of the most important theses in the present volume -- the Freedom of the Will This doctrine ramifies into all departments of Metaphysics, and the view adopted on the question must logically determine the theory of life and morality which is the practical outcome of rational speculation. Ethics, Natural Theology, Ontology, and Cosmology all meet the phenomenon of the human Will in one connexion or another; and all these sciences are compelled to harmonize their general conclusions with their creed upon this point.

Free-will and Psychology. -- Many writers on Psychology maintain that the discussion of Free-will should he excluded altogether from this science, and relegated to Ethics or some other branch of Philosophy. Provided the subject be adequately treated, it seems to us of minor interest where this shall be done. Still the claims, nay the obligations, of the psychologist to face this problem are obvious. The facts of volition, choice, self-control, character, the feeling of remorse and of responsibility, are all important mental phenomena which can hardly be ignored in the Science of the Mind. Indeed no adequate treatment of voluntary activity is possible without assuming some view on the question of moral freedom; and those English psychologists who profess the most rigid doctrine as to the purely positive or phenomenal character of the science of Psychology, invariably adopt one side -- usually that of determinism -- in their account of volition. As we take a larger view of the subject, and conceive Psychology to be a philosophical science, it is our duty not to shirk the question.

Free-will defined. -- Will, or Rational Appetency in general, may be described as the faculty of inclining towards or striving after some object intellectually apprehended as good; but viewed strictly as a free power, it may be defined as the capability of self-determination. By self is meant not the series of my mental states, nor the conception of that series, but the abiding real being which is subject of these states. By Free-will or Moral Freedom, then, we understand that property in virtue of which a rational agent, when all the conditions required to elicit a volition are present, can either put forth or abstain from that volition.

Scholastic Terminology. -- The schoolmen here, as usual, distinguished terms with more accuracy and precision than their successors. They defined spontaneous acts, as all those which have their source within the agent, e.g., the movements of the roots of a plant, as well as the impulsive or the fully deliberate actions of men. Such acts merely exclude coaction. The schoolmen further distinguished two forms of voluntary action. Voluntary acts in a wider sense they defined as "those proceeding from an internal principle (i.e., spontaneous) with the apprehension of an end." Only voluntary acts in the strict sense were held to be free, or deliberate. These latter imply not only an apprehension of the object sought, but a self-conscious advertence to the fact that we are seeking it, or acquiescing in the desire of it. The spontaneous or impulsive acts of man which are the outcome of his nature are voluntary in the lax sense, but non-voluntary in the stricter signification. The term actus humanus -- human action -- was confined to free or deliberate acts: actus hominis designated all indeliberate actions of man. Further, the term liberty was carefully distinguished. Physical liberty means immunity from physical compulsion or restraint (necessitas coactionis). The unbridled horse is in this sense free, whilst the prisoner in a cell is not. Moral Liberty, or Freedom of Will (libertas arbitrii) signifies immunity from necessitation by the agent's nature (necessitas naturae). In this latter sense the prisoner is free, but the horse is not. When Locke defines free-will as the power to do what I choose, he confounds moral and physical liberty. The latter in the case of human beings is also called personal freedom.

Problem stated. -- Now the question at issue is not whether man can choose or will without any motive whatsoever. Such a choice would be irrational and impossible, because volition implies the embracing of an object intellectually apprehended as a good. But any object of thought apprehended as good or desirable is thereby a motive soliciting the will -- whether it be ultimately preferred or not. Attacks of determinists on "the theory of motiveless volition " are therefore completely irrelevant. No accredited defender of Free-will teaches that man can choose or will without any motive. St. Thomas would have described such a view as self-contradictory and absurd. Nihil eligitur nisi sub specie boni -- " Nothing is willed except under the appearance of good," was a universally received axiom in the schools. Free-will implies not choice without motive, but choice between motives. If there be but one motive within the range of intellectual vision, the volition in such circumstances is not free, but necessary. Equally unjustifiable is it to represent the doctrine of Indeterminism as a theory of causeless volition. The mind or the self is the cause. Again, the question is not whether all actions of man are free, but whether any action is so. In the words of Dr. H. Sidgwick: "Is my voluntary action at any (every) moment determined by (1) my character (a) partly inherited, (b) partly formed by past feelings and actions, and (2) my circumstances or the external influences acting on me at the moment? or not?" Or, in those of Dr. Martineau: "In exercises of the will (i.e., in cases of choice) is the mind wholly determined by phenomenal antecedents and external conditions; or does itself also, as active subject of these objective experiences, play the part of determining Cause?" Or to put it otherwise: Given all the prerequisites for a volition except that act itself, does it necessarily follow? Or finally, in the language of Professor James: "Do those parts of the universe already laid down absolutely appoint and decree what the other parts shall be?{1} Determinists or Necessarians answer in the affirmative; Libertarians, or Anti-determinists or Indeterminists say, No.

We allow most readily, first, that a very large part of man's daily action is indeliberate, and therefore merely the resultant of the forces playing upon him: secondly, that even where he acts deliberately, and exerts his power of free choice, he is influenced by the weight of the motives attracting him to either side; and finally, as a consequence of this, we grant that a being possessed of a perfect knowledge of all the forces operating on a man would be able to prophesy with the greatest probability what course that man will take. But on the other hand, we hold that there are many acts of man which are not simply the resultant of the influences working upon him: that he can, and sometimes does set himself against the aggregate balance of motive, natural disposition, and acquired habit; and that, consequently, prediction with absolute certainty concerning his future free conduct would be impossible from even perfect knowledge of his character and motives. Such is the thesis we defend. Whether it be called the doctrine of free-will, of moral liberty, of indeterminism, or of contingent choice, seems to us of little moment. But it is of the utmost importance that the precise point of the dispute should be understood, and the gravity of the issue realized. For thjs reason we have formulated the question in so many ways.

Fatalism and Determinism -- There is a marked tendency among recent opponents of Free-will to shrink from the use of such "hard" terms as necessity, fatality, and the like, adopted by their more courageous and more logical predecessors. We have now-a-days, as James says, "a soft determinism which says that its real name is freedom." (Op. cit. p. 149.) These efforts to change the meaning of the terms employed in the controversy can only confuse the student by obscuring the fundamental difference between the rival doctrines, which involve profoundly opposed conceptions of the Universe. Mill (Logic, Bk. VI. c. ii. § 3, n. 3) sought to make a distinction between Determinism and Fatalism. The latter doctrine holds, he teaches, that all our acts are determined by fate or external circumstances, independently of our feelings and volitions. Determinism, on the contrary, maintains that action is determined by feeling. In practice, then, they will certainly differ. The determinist may seek to arouse good desires in himself or others: the fatalist will abandon the attempt as useless. But logically fatalism flows from determinism. In connexion with this point Mill falls into one of his frequent inconsistencies, teaching that "our character is in part amenable to our will." (Exam. p. 511.) Our character is, of course, merely the result of inherited constitution and personal acts. The former is obviously beyond our control, and according to Mill the latter have all been inevitably predetermined by antecedent character and external influences, until we reach infancy, where of course there was no freedom at all. The desire to " alter my character" or to improve myself must in the determinist theory have ever been as independent of me, as completely given to me, as the shape of my nose.

The arguments usually adduced to establish the Freedom of the Will are threefold. They have been called the psychological, the ethical, and the metaphysical proofs respectively. The first of these appeals to the direct testimony of consciousness. The second is indirect in character, being based on the analysis of certain mental states -- ethical concepts. The third is a more complex deduction from the nature of higher mental activity. We shall begin with the second as its demonstrative force is to some minds clearest.

Argument from Ethical Notions: Obligation. -- "Thou canst for thou oughtst." The inference which Kant thus draws is perfectly just; though he erroneously interprets it, and confines liberty to the noumenal world, whilst conceding the "empirical self" and the phenomena of experience to the rule of a rigid determinism. If I am really bound hic et nunc to abstain from an evil deed, then it must at some moment be really possible for me that this deed shall not occur. The existence of moral obligation is at least as certain as the uniformity of nature -- the assumption or postulate on which all the propositions of physical science rest. The conviction that I am bound to abstain from evil is not a generalization from an imperfect and limited experience, but an immediate and universal judgment of mankind. The moral law lies at the foundation of practical social life. Right conduct is not merely a beautiful ideal which attracts me. It commands me with an absolute authority. It obliges me unconditionally.{2} Whatever he my own feelings or desires, I remain in each act categorically bound to do right and to avoid wrong. At the same time it is a patent fact that the moral law is not always observed. But if the moral law obliges me at all times it must be really within my power on those occasions when I disobey it. To suppose that I can be really and unconditionally bound to perform an act which is now, and has ever been, for me absolutely impossible, is utterly irrational. For instance, a dishonest director or promoter of a bubble company, is elaborating a plan to amass a fortune by the plunder of several hundred poor people. Suppose his moral sensibility is not as yet altogether obliterated, and that he adverts to the fact that his evil scheme is a piece of cruel and nefarious swindling. He feels that it is wicked and wrong -- that he ought not to proceed with it. Involved in this consciousness of the present obligation is the conviction that he can abstain from his evil course. Are both the persuasion that he ought and that he can an illusion? In the determinist theory no other volition or choice than those actually elicited were really possible to that man throughout his entire past life, and the present criminal choice is inexorably determined by the equally inevitable choices that have gone before.

Remorse and Repentance. -- Let us now examine the character of another mental state: If I have voluntarily yielded to some evil temptation, or knowingly done a wrong act; if I have been deliberately unjust, unkind, or dishonest, especially if I believe my act to have been grievously sinful; when I reflect upon it I am keenly conscious that my conduct was blameworthy. I condemn myself for it, I feel remorse for it, I judge that I ought to regret it, that I am bound to repent it. But for acts that have not been thus deliberately performed I do not in this way blame myself, even though they may have resulted in far more serious injury to others or to myself. Of course I wish that even involuntary actions of mine which may have occasioned harm had not happened; but I do not deem them culpable; and I judge that I am not bound to repent them. The sentence of self-condemnation and the pain of remorse present in the former and absent from the latter cases are due to the assurance that the former were mine in the strictest sense, that I freely did them -- that, unlike the latter, they were not the inevitable outcome of my nature and circumstances, that I could have done otherwise. Furthermore, this clear distinction is confirmed by the universal judgment of mankind, which asserts that it is right to have remorse and to blame myself for the evil deliberately done which I could have avoided, but not for those acts which were not deliberate, and therefore not in my power. But if determinism be true, both classes of acts were equally the inevitable outcome of my nature and circumstances. If the reader will think out the strictly logical consequences of determinism he will see that, according to that theory, it is just as rational to indulge in remorse and self-condemnation for an attack of heart-disease or for being caught in a railway accident as for having committed an act of perjury.

The determinist -- who invariably claims exclusive monopoly of the scientific attitude of mind -- refuses to think; and instead vehemently insists that injustice is done his theory, that there is a profound difference between the two cases, that feelings of sorrow, desires, and purposes of amendment, are useful to prevent future perjuries, but not for the avoidance of railway collisions. This is very true, but equally irrelevant to the point at issue -- the rationality of remorse and self-condemnation for our past voluntary acts. If all my past acts, whether deliberate or indeliberate, alike inevitably resulted from my nature and circumstances, it is not virtue but irrational folly to indulge in remorse for sin, and it is mendacious to teach that it is right and reasonable to repent of a crime which we believe to have been as unavoidable as an earthquake. Professor James writes on this topic with his wonted vigour. "Some regrets are pretty obstinate and hard to stifle, -- regrets for acts of wanton cruelty or treachery, for example, whether performed by others or by ourselves. Hardly any one can remain entirely optimistic after reading the confession of the murderer at Brockton the other day; how, to get rid of the wife whose continued existence bored him, he enveigled her into a desert spot, shot her four times, and then as she lay on the ground and said to him, 'You didn't do it on purpose, did you, dear?' replied, 'No, I didn't do it on purpose,' as he raised a rock and smashed her skull. Such an occurrence with the mild sentence and self-satisfaction of the prisoner, is a field for a crop of regrets, which one need not take up in detail. We feel that though a perfect mechanical fit for the rest of the universe, it is a bad moral fit, and that something else would have been really better in its place. But for the deterministic philosophy the murder, the sentence, and the prisoner's optimism were all necessary from eternity; and nothing else for a moment had a ghost of a chance of being put into their place. To admit such a choice, the determinists tell us, would be to make a suicide of reason; so we must steel our hearts against the thought. . . . (Yet) Determinism in denying that anything else can be instead of the murder, virtually defines the universe as a place in which what ought to be is impossible." (Op. cit. p. 61.) But it is in the name of reason -- in order to conceive the universe as a rational whole -- to satisfy the postulate of uniformity of causation, that determinists deny free volition!

Merit and Desert. -- Closely related to the mental states just discussed are the conceptions of merit and desert -- notions embodied in all languages, and engrained in the moral consciousness of mankind. When I have struggled perseveringly against a difficult temptation, or made some deliberate sacrifice in the cause of virtue, I feel that my act is meritorious, that I have deserved a reward. I may see no prospect throughout my life of receiving the recompense. But I am none the less assured that I have established a right to it, that such a recompense is just. And this I judge to be so because I believe the act to have been free. For if not, even though the act had been far more painful to myself, and far more useful to mankind, I deem that I have not this claim. The good accomplished unwittingly or involuntarily, however useful, is not meritorious on the part of the agent; praise or esteem which I may receive for it I recognize in my heart to be undeserved.{3} Now this judgment is primarily inward. It is a retrospective sentence pronounced by my reason on my deliberate actions -- or rather on myself as exerting them. I do not, as some determinists seem to imply, esteem these acts because they are evidence to me of the valuable character which I possess. The very reverse is often conspicuously the case, as when the drunkard, striving to reform, measures the merit of his painful resistance by the very badness of that formed character which the violence of his temptation reveals. Still less is the sense of merit due to the experience that good actions have been rewarded and evil acts punished in the past. From a very early age the child shows, in its feeble way, that it can clearly distinguish between deserved and undeserved punishment. "I could not help it," is the invariable excuse; and when the child really believes that this was the case, he is convinced that the punishment is unjust. This same retrospective judgment as to the merit or demerit of free action, and their absence from actions similar in effects but involuntary in origin, is confirmed by the general sense of mankind both cultured and uncultured.

Retribution. -- The truth is, the idea of moral retribution is incompatible with Determinism. That theory is compelled to maintain that the notion of the restitution of violated right order through expiatory suffering is a childish delusion. Punishment is purely preventive. Praise and blame are not just awards for self-sacrifice in the past, but judicious incentives for anticipated future services. Gratitude is, not in jest but in earnest, "a delicate sense of favours to come."

Responsibility. -- For acts done by me with advertence to the fact that I was doing them, and with a consciousness of their moral quality, I judge myself accountable. Their goodness or badness I consider to be rightly imputed to me. If good the praise, if evil the blame is mine. But actions performed by me inadvertently, or without cognizance of their moral quality, I pronounce with equal certainty not to be justly imputable to me. They are not truly mine; and it is not right that I should have to answer for them. The meaning and ground of this distinction is that I am convinced the former acts were free in the strict sense; that I had real power to have chosen the other course; whilst the latter were there and then inevitable -- the necessary resultant of my character and the forces playing on me. This ethical conception is so important that it is desirable to scrutinize it closely:

Notion of Responsibility analyzed. -- Responsibility in the fullest sense pre-supposes: (1) A justly binding authority. (2) Knowledge in the agent of the just will of this authority -- of the rightness or wrongness of the act. (3) Power either to perform or abstain from the act. If any of these be absent, responsibility in the full sense no longer exists. Be it noted that the reality of my responsibility or of my duty does not rest ultimately on the mere fact that the badness or goodness of the deed actually moves my will. Even were my will hardened by crime so as to become insensible to the charms of virtue or the foulness of vice, both obligation and responsibility would remain real, so long as I intellectually apprehended the act to be my duty. But most important of all, the act must be really mine -- really within my power to perform or to omit. If not, my reason affirms, I cannot be answerable for it. Imperfect knowledge, fear, sudden passion -- in so far as these conditions were themselves outside of my control -- all diminish responsibility, precisely in proportion as they diminish freedom. I may have communicated the plague to an entire city, or poisoned my father and mother, and though plunged in grief over the terrible misfortune, I may retain the clearest conviction that I am not responsible for the calamity, that I am not morally guilty of the act, that I cannot be justly punished for it, because I know it was not my free act, because I am sure that I could not have helped it. I apply this same criterion to the conduct of other men, and I am quite certain that mankind at large would endorse my judgment. I may of course have been guilty of voluntary carelessness, or imprudence which resulted in the act. If so, I am accountable just in so far as this final act was voluntary or free in causa -- in its original cause. That is, my responsibility is measured by the distinctness with which the final disastrous act could have been foreseen by me as likely to result from my earlier faults, and the facility with which these could have been avoided. It is because the maniac and the somnambulist are inevitably determined by their nature and the forces acting on them, that we judge them unaccountable for any harm which they may have caused. We take measures to prevent their innocently doing further evil; and we may even apply painful remedies to deter them in the future; but we do not judge them deserving of blame or moral censure. We deem them irresponsible agents. Responsibility is therefore not the "consciousness of the solidarity of our mental life," that is, the conviction that certain acts, as a matter of fact, physically entail certain painful consequences; nor the knowledge that the law visits certain transgressions with particular penalties. It implies that I am justly punishable for a past free act, and only for a free act.{4}

Justice. -- Finally, the idea of Justice involved in nearly all other ethical conceptions is completely subverted. Justice is volition and action according to Law. But if determinism be true, all volitions are equally predetermined according to the laws of the universe. Each human choice is as inflexibly fore-ordained as the daily ebbing tide. Of course it still remains true that we can in fancy picture other imaginary conditions, and construct moral ideals fairer to contemplate than the actual facts of human life. But these conceptions themselves are merely particular manifestations of the same universal iron necessity. Moral law is identical with physical law, and whatever is is right.

Determinism distorts Moral Conceptions. -- In brief, then, the notions and sentiments which constitute the moral consciousness of mankind, and are embodied in the laws and literatures of all nations, and in the ethical terms of all languages, imply the freedom of the Will. "On the Determinist theory," as Dr. Sidgwick justly remarks, "ought, responsibility, desert, and similar terms, should be used, if at all, in new significations." The universal illusion was indeed profitable to society in the past, but its day is over. Dr. Maudsley frankly tells us: "The doctrine of free-will, like some other doctrines that have done their work and then, being no longer of any use, have undergone decay, . . . was necessary to promote the evolution of mankind up to a certain stage."{5} It is scarcely necessary to point out that a psychological or metaphysical hypothesis which is contradicted by the actual moral consciousness of the human race is not in a very satisfactory condition. The determinist does not save his position by asserting that he can provide intelligible or useful meanings for our ethical terms. The problem for him is to harmonize his theory with the actual character and genuine significance of our leading moral emotions and sentiments. The business of science is to accept facts as they are and to explain them, not to manufacture them -- to interpret, not to transform them.

Free-will and Ethics. -- It has been argued by Dr. Sidgwick that the question of Free-will has little or no bearing on Systematic Ethics. (Op. cit. c. v. §§ 4, 5.) The whole controversy comes to this: If we mean by the Science of Ethics merely the exposition of a code of judicious rules of individual conduct, a psychological account of the formation of habits, and a scheme of useful social sanctions; then, perhaps, the problem of Free-will might be ignored in such a "systematic" treatise. But if by the Science of Ethics we mean, not a body of precepts to attain an end somehow or other assumed, but a Moral Philosophy, i.e., a philosophical determination of the right end of human action, an analysis of the grounds of Duty or Moral Obligation, a rational account of the moral convictions of man universally embodied in the leading ethical terms and ideas -- responsibility, merit, approval, remorse, &c., and an adequate treatment of the most wide-reaching of all ethical virtues -- Justice; then -- and such is of course the only study worthy of the name of the Science of Ethics -- the Freedom of the Will is not merely not a side issue; it is a most vital and all-important question penetrating to the very foundations of Moral Philosophy. The fact that leading determinists such as Mr. Spencer and Dr. Maudsley, as a logical consequence of their doctrine reduce morality to natural action makes the significance of the problem clear. (Cf. Martineau, op. cit. Vol. II. pp. 311-324.)

Argument from Consciousness. -- We now return to a more strictly psychological argument -- the introspective analysis of volition. We shall study different phases of this activity; and we invite the reader to make experiments and observe for himself.

Attention. -- We have already indicated the connexion of voluntary attention with the present question; but it will be well to notice some special aspects of this mental function here. If I study by introspection any process of voluntary attention, such as that involved in recalling a forgotten incident, or in guessing a riddle, I observe that I myself deliberately guide the course of my thoughts. I am conscious that I do this by fostering the strength of some ideas, and starving others. I am conscious too that those which I select and detain are often among the feeblest and least attractive; and that by my preferential attention I cause them to prevail. I determine not only what representations, but what aspects of these representations shall occupy my consciousness. In such cases I am conscious of exerting free volition. Further, throughout this process I apprehend myself as causing my mental activity -- I am immediately conscious of my attention as the exercise of free causal energy put forth by me.

It is this power of the mind to modify through selective attention the relative strength of rival motives that renders so futile all comparison of the will with a balance inevitably drawn in the direction of the heaviest weight: "Pull a body," says Professor Alexander, "to the right with a force of twelve pounds, and to the left with a force of eight; it moves to the right. Imagine that body a mind aware of the forces which act upon it; it will move in the direction of that which, for whatever reason, appeals to it most; and in doing so it will, just because it is conscious, act of itself, and will have the consciousness of freedom. A true explanation of this consciousness turns the flank of indeterminism." (Op. cit. p. 340.) "Flanking" movements are sometimes perilous to the flanking party. Imagine that body not merely aware of the forces acting upon it, but also self-conscious of the active power of selective attention by which it increases the force of the eight pounds or diminishes that of the twelve, and the example will accurately represent what introspection assures us takes place in our minds when we exert our free-will to overcome the strongest motive. The illustration thus merely makes clear the radical misconception of the actual character of our mental life required by the determinist theory.{6}

Or, the argument may be put in the converse form: Suppose that I was free, could consciousness affirm that fact more clearly than it does now? "Let us ask what the effort to attend would effect if it were an original force. It would deepen and prolong the stay in consciousness of innumerable ideas which else would fade more quickly away. The delay thus gained might not be more than a second in duration -- but that second might be critical; for, in the constant rising and falling of considerations in the mind, where two associated systems of them are nearly in equilibrium it is often but a matter of a second more or less of attention at the outset, whether one system shall gain force to occupy the field and develop itself, and exclude the other, or be excluded itself by the other. When developed, it may make us act; and that act may seal our doom. . . . The whole drama of the voluntary life hinges on the amount of attention, slightly more or slightly less, which rival motor ideas may receive. But the whole feeling of reality, the whole sting and excitement of our voluntary life, depends on our sense that in it things are really being decided from one moment to another, and that it is not the dull rattling off of a chain that was forged innumerable ages ago."{7}

Deliberation. -- Let us take another experience. Suppose two alternative courses are suggested to me in regard to some projected action, as for instance the investment of a sum of money; or the selection of a servant. I set myself to reflect on the merits of two claimants. I question each of them about their capabilities. I examine their testimonials, and make what inquiries I can about them. I then ponder on the motives against and in favour of each. I consider the matter on different occasions; and finally at the end of a week select one of the candidates. Now what is to be noticed here is that the process of deliberation itself is, on the testimony of internal consciousness, an exercise of free volition. I have freely reflected, inquired, and examined the reasons for each side. As I dwelt on the arguments for one of the candidates, I felt drawn to decide in his favour, but I freely deferred decision. I voluntarily abstained from what I there and then felt to be the easier and more agreeable course. It is of no avail to assert that I had some motive for these acts of reflecting, comparing, refraining, and finally electing. In order that the process may have been intelligent and not blindly impulsive, there must have been some reason present to the mind -- and so far forth a motive. What determinism has to show is that that reason so inexorably pre-determined me there and then to reflect, to compare, and to abstain, that any other act was impossible to me. But this is what no man -- even the determinist -- in the act of deliberating can believe. The conviction irresistibly borne in on me by introspective consciousness is just the opposite -- that it is I -- the indivisible abiding subject I -- who freely recall and detain that reason or motive before my consciousness, and confer upon it whatever strength it possesses.

Finally, this conviction of my freedom throughout the process was founded not on ignorance of what was determining my action, but on the immediate and positive knowledge that I myself was causally determining my action. For I have had plenty of experience of action of the opposite kind -- of oscillating passively under the pressure of rival impulses, of the intrusion of uninvited motives, of unwelcomed ideas forced upon the mind, and even of agreeable spontaneous activity that was indeliberate. This important fact is constantly overlooked in attacks on the argument from introspection. Were I free in all my actions perhaps my knowledge of moral freedom would not be so clear. Were a man always hungry his conception of hunger would be imperfect. I have learned what free, self-determined, conative activity is by having been repeatedly the subject of conative activity that was not free or determined by myself, but the spontaneous and necessary outcome of my character and the motives playing upon me.{8}

Decision or Choice. -- Deliberation is free, but the act of choice is the culmination of the exercise of freedom. Let us take an ethical choice. A temptation to an immoral act suggests itself -- to excuse a fault by a lie, to commit some small dishonesty, to reveal something to my neighbour's discredit. The evil thought may have been present for some time before I awake to its immoral quality. So far it has been non-voluntary, and I am not responsible for it. Now, however, I advert to its sinfulness, and there is at once forced upon me a deliberate choice -- to resist or to consent to the temptation. Suppose that I now deliberately decide either to consent or resist. I am irresistibly convinced during that act of decision that the election is freely made by me -- that I am not inevitably determined by habit and present motive to this course -- that the opposite alternative is really in my power. This conviction that I have chosen freely -- that the situation being precisely the same I might have freely elected the opposite -- remains afterwards, and is the ground for my sense of remorse or self-approval. Professor Sidgwick assuredly does not exaggerate the testimony of consciousness, yet even he writes: "Certainly, in the case of actions in which I have a distinct consciousness of choosing between alternatives of conduct, one of which I conceive as right or reasonable, I find it impossible not to think that I can now choose to do what I so conceive, however strong may be my inclination to act unreasonably, and however uniformly I may have yielded to such inclinations in the past."{9}

Or, take an instance of prudential decision. Whilst reading for an examination, I receive an invitation to some pleasant entertainment. The spontaneous impulse of my will is to consent at once: but I freely resist this inclination. I reflect on the pros and cons; and then I deliberately choose. Here again the conviction, both during and after the election, that my election is free is irresistible. Consciousness affirms that it is I who freely initiated the act of reflexion. It is the same abiding indivisible I -- not alternating groups of feelings -- who have deliberated, who have actively considered each motive in turn, who have decided which shall prevail. This Ego, introspection also assures me, is not a mere conscious arena wherein rival propensities conflict: it is not a mere mass of ideas and desires with the more frequent of the latter personified into a character; it is not a mere abstract notion of my life, past, present, and future. It is, on the contrary, the real being who has this notion, the permanent subject of my states, the true cause of my deliberations and volitions. To the suggestion that this Self which thus seems to decide is perhaps merely my formed character, it has been effectively replied: "Besides the motives felt, and besides the formed habits or past self, is there not a present self that has a part to perform in reference to both? Is there not a causal self, over and above the caused self, or rather the caused state and contents of the self (the character) left as a deposit from previous behaviour? Is there not a judging self that knows and weighs the competing motives, over and above the agitated self that feels them? The impulses are but phenomena of your experience; the formed habits are but a condition and attitude of your consciousness, in virtue of which you feel this more and that less; both are predicates of yourself as subject, but are not yourself, and cannot be identified with your personal agency. On the contrary, they are objects of your contemplation; they lie before you to be known, compared, estimated; they are your data; and you have not to let them alone to work together as they may, but to deal with them as arbiter among their tendencies. In all cases of self-consciousness and self-action there is necessarily this duplication of the Ego into the objective, that contains the felt and predicated phenomena at which we look or may look, and the subjective that apprehends and uses them. It is with the latter that the preferential power and personal causality resides; it is this that we mean when we say that 'it rests with us to decide,' that our impulses are not to be our masters, that guilty habit cannot be pleaded in excuse for guilty act."{10}

Adhesion to resolution under temptation. -- Let us now take the case of a moral choice freely sustained in the face of severe pressure. Suppose an angry impulse, a feeling of envy, or an impure image presents itself to me. As soon as I advert to its sinfulness, I deliberately reject the evil thought and endeavour to direct my attention to something else. But the temptation recurs again and again in spite of my efforts to banish or suppress it; and the victory is only finally secured after a long and painful struggle.{11} Now the most careful introspective observation of my mental processes assures me here that I am exerting and sustaining volitional activity against the preponderant impulse. Further, it forces upon me at each instant the absolutely overwhelming conviction that the alternative choice is hic et nunc in my power -- that I can, alas! only too easily surrender. It is only by painful, constantly renewed, energetic volition that I can inhibit the sinful inclination. The alternative choice would require no positive act. Mere cessation from this sustained volitional effort would permit the evil impulse to take possession of my consciousness -- would involve acquiescence or consent. The motive of doing right undoubtedly attracts me; but the assertion that the cognition of the rightness of resistance converts such resistance into the pleasantest course, or constitutes a motive of such force as to draw me inevitably to the side of virtue, is extravagantly untrue. It is I myself who, by continuous painful effort of volitional attention, keep this evanescent idea of duty before my mind and give it what power it possesses. Moral conduct of this kind is, as Professor James truly says, action in the line of greatest resistance. It is not merely one original momentary act of choice against what seemed to be the strongest motive; it is a series of volitions in opposition to what consciousness continuously assures me is the strongest motive. But according to the determinist, not only the original decision, but each subsequent volition was inexorably determined by the preponderant attraction, and no other alternative was ever possible to me.{12}

An objection. -- To these various arguments one general objection is urged: "The conviction of freedom is an illusion." "Men," says Spinoza, "deceive themselves in thinking that they are free. On what is this opinion based? On this alone, that they are conscious of their acts, but ignorant of the causes which determine them. The idea which men form of their liberty arises then from this, that they do not know the causes of their actions."{13} "Which motive is chosen," says Professor Alexander, "is perfectly fixed and dependent upon the character, which cannot choose otherwise than it does." The mistaken notion that "I was free to do otherwise" is due simply to the fact that: "Given any act, a different act is conceivable, there is a logical alternative to everything. But so far as the agent believes that he, with his character and under his circumstances, could have acted otherwise, he confuses the feeling that he chooses with this mere logical possibility."{14} The reply is already furnished in the analysis of the examples of conative activity just given. My assurance of freedom in voluntary attention, deliberation, and effort against temptation is founded, not on ignorance of the causes which have determined my volition, hut on the knowledge that I am that cause -- the certainty that it is I who have originated, developed, guided, and sustained my volitional activity. I can clearly distinguish certain free volitions from conative activity which is not free. I can recognize with not less clearness the wide difference between the conception of some abstractly possible action and the conviction that an alternative course is or was really in my power. And the assertion that whilst I was painfully struggling against a violent and protracted temptation consent was there and then never really possible to me, is simply incredible. If ugly facts are to be got rid of by calling them "illusions," no psychological or metaphysical hypothesis, however absurd, could be effectually disproved.

Metaphysical Argument. -- The third form of proof used in establishing the Freedom of the Will is sometimes called the Metaphysical Argument. The distaste for metaphysical speculation, which has held such complete sway in this country during the last two centuries, has virtually ostracized this argument from English philosophical literature. It is indeed of very little use for the purpose of converting a man who is not convinced of the existence of Free-will by the preceding lines of reasoning. But, on the other hand, it has the advantage, which they do not possess, of showing the cause of our freedom, and the natural continuity of that freedom, as long as reason remains to us in this life. We do not of course mean by this, that there is moral liberty involved in every use of reason. We have already pointed out that freedom is limited to those states of mind in which we advert to thoughts and desires that have occurred to us, and in which we are thus in a reflex manner concomitantly aware of the character of these thoughts -- of their real or apparent worth, of their value estimated from a moral, a prudential, or a hedonistic standpoint. As often as the mind is in such a condition -- and every man's experience assures him of its frequency -- we are free to indulge or resist the thought, to foster or struggle against the desire.

The cause of this lies in the fact that the Will is a rational appetite: an appetite which embraces nothing of necessity, except what is apprehended as desirable in every respect. The Rational Will can be irresistibly drawn only by that which reason proposes as so universally attractive that it contains no dissatisfactory feature. As long as the thought of an object reveals any disagreeable aspect, the Will has not that which it is naturally longing for -- perfect happiness -- and it is able to reject this object. The Will is moved to desire an object only in so far as that object is good. Appetency is in truth merely tendency towards good, whatever form that good may take; and an object which contains any deficiency is the reverse of desirable so far as that feature is concerned. If, then, attention is concentrated on this undesirable feature, and withdrawn from those which are attractive, the object loses its enticing force. But during this present life no object presents itself to the intellect as attractive under all aspects when we advert to its value, -- that is, in the mental situation for which liberty is claimed. As regards finite goods it is obvious that, either in the difficulty of their acquisition, or in the uncertainty of their possession, or in their possible incompatibility with our highest good, there is always something on account of which they are undesirable, and for which man may turn away from them to seek the infinite good -- God Himself. At the same time it is equally clear that man is not at present drawn inevitably in this latter direction. The inadequate and obscure notion of God possessed in this life, the difficulty of duty, the conflict of man's pride and sensuality with virtue, all make the pursuit of our true good disagreeable in many respects to human nature, so that we can only too easily and freely abandon it. The clear apprehension of an Infinite Good, such as is given in the Beatific Vision of the blessed in Heaven, would, theologians teach, remove this freedom. The blessed cannot help loving God above all things; we, however, though necessitated to seek after good in some shape or other, are at liberty to reject any particular form of it presented to us. Our Freedom, accordingly, lies in our power of choosing between the manifold kinds of good which are ever conceivable by the Intellect; it is, in fact, a free acceptance of intellectual judgments concerning the desirability of thoughts and external actions. Free-will is, therefore, a result of man's possession of a spiritual faculty of cognition whose object is the universal, and which can conceive unlimited and unalloyed good. Consequently, where such a power does not exist, as in the case of brute animals, moral liberty is absent.

The establishment of Free-will by the two former arguments demonstrates that independently of the intellect we are endowed with a spiritual faculty, an activity superior to matter, and not completely controlled in its operations by the physical organism. This in truth is the rock of offence. If the Will is free, then there is more in man than an organized frame.

Objections against Free-will. -- We shall now handle briefly the leading objections urged against Free-will. Since many of these claim to be the outcome of modern science, we shall treat them under the heads of the several branches of knowledge to which they belong. We shall start with those which are asserted to proceed from the study of the mind itself.

Psychological Difficulties. -- 1. Many determinists devote a considerable quantity of abuse to the doctrine of Free-will, as a fitting exordium to prepare the reader's mind to make proper estimate of the pros and cons. Thus, Dr. Bain characterizes his opponent's view as incomprehensible and unintelligible. Free-will, he tells us, is "a power that comes from nothing, has no beginning, follows no rule, respects no time or occasion, operates without impartiality;" and reasonably enough he looks on such a conception of voluntary action as "repugnant alike to our intelligence and to our moral sentiment."{15} In the same strain Dr. Maudsley: "A self-determining will is an unmeaning contradiction in terms and an inconceivability in fact."{16} Such rhetorical devices are to be met by simple denial. That the mind possesses at times the power of free choice, of freely yielding to or resisting the most agreeable attractions, that it is not always inevitably determined in the direction of the greatest pleasure is at least as intelligible a proposition as its contradictory. Moreover, since it expresses what is practically the universal conviction of mankind, it cannot he self-evidently absurd.

Similarly, when Professor Stout compares free volition in the libertarian view to "a Jack-in-the-box," and says that "contingent choice" in that theory "springs into being of itself as if it were fired out of a pistol,"{17} the anti-determinist can, of course, at once retort the illustration and reply that, on the contrary, it is in Professor Stout's theory human choice resembles the pistol-bullet -- is just as free, meritorious, or blameworthy, and that the Brockton murderer is just as responsible and worthy of reprobation as the revolver with which he shot his wife!

2. It is affirmed that our own internal experience is in favour of the necessarian view. Introspection tells us that we are always determined by motives; and it is denied "that we are conscious of being able to act in opposition to the strongest present desire or aversion."{18} By "strongest," is meant strongest estimated in quantity of pleasure or pain. Now, here we come to the point of assertion and denial about an ultimate fact of consciousness which is incapable of demonstration, and which each must examine for himself. We hold that each man's own internal experience reveals the fact that he can at times resist the strongest desire or aversion, and we believe that most men, at least occasionally, do so. In involuntary acts we admit also that we are inevitably necessitated by our character and the motives operating upon us. Even in deliberate choice we are influenced by the greater weight of motive on one side, but we are not inexorably determined thereby.

3. "The strongest motive always prevails." This is either a tautological statement, or it is untrue. If strength of motive is to be determined by its final prevalence, then it is an identical proposition affirming the undeniable truth that the motive which prevails, does prevail. This seems to be Bain's view.{19} Mill, however, says, by strongest is meant most pleasurable.{20} In this sense the statement must be denied, and appeal made to the illustrations given above.

4. Some determinists find misrepresentation the most convenient method of demolishing the case for Free-will. "That every one is at liberty to desire, or not to desire, which is the real proposition involved in the dogma of Free-will, is negatived as much by the analysis of consciousness as by the contents of the preceding chapters."{21} The question is not whether desire be free, or whether action i.e. opposition to wish be possible. G. H. Lewes is here less unfair towards his opponents. "No one," he says, "supposes that our desires are free."{22} Desire is an ambiguous term. Primarily, as we have already indicated, it means a consciousness of want or insufficiency to be satisfied by some represented object. Such a state is, of course, not a volition or free act of the will. The latter consists in the rejection of, or consent to, this feeling -- in the act of permitting or resisting the spontaneous movement of the appetite towards the desired object. We certainly can at times put forth an act of will to restrain this spontaneous desire. The word desire is, however, also used to designate the movement of the appetite, when this motion has been accepted or adopted by the will, and of course in this sense it is impossible not to will or desire what we freely desire.

5. One of the difficulties most frequently urged is, that experience of our neighbour's actions shows that they are ever determined by character and motives. "We always explain the voluntary action of all men except ourselves on the principle of causation by character and circumstances. Indeed, otherwise social life would be impossible, for the life of man in society involves daily a mass of minute forecasts of the actions of other men founded on experience."{23} "All the massive evidence to be derived from human conduct, and from our interpretation of such conduct, points to the conclusion that actions, sensations, emotions, and thoughts, are subject to causal determination no less rigorous than the movements of the planets."{24}

This objection, however, really proves nothing against our doctrine. For, (a) such predictions and judgments deal mainly with external acts of which a large part are indeliberate, and so necessitated by nature and circumstances; (b) Even in deliberate actions, unless their moral quality be very marked, men follow freely the spontaneous impulse of the will, which is the resultant of character plus motives. The most thorough-going libertarian allows that man's will is influenced, though not inexorably constrained, by these forces; and hence Christian teachers of all times have laid the greatest stress on the formation of virtuous habits. (c) Even where the morality of an act becomes prominent, it is only men aiming at a virtuous life who frequently resist the solicitations of pleasure. (d) That in an unreflective mood we should thus seem to consider other men's acts to be completely determined by character and motives, is quite explicable on the principles of mental association. Character and motives have admittedly great influence, and they are the only factors of the case which come within our cognizance. Accordingly, the unknown element of the will being always neglected, the observed agents impress themselves vividly on our mind, especially in connexion with successful predictions, and so cause the existence of the unseen element to be forgotten. (e) Finally, when we reflect upon the deliberate moral acts of others, we most certainly do not believe them to be the inevitable outcome of their circumstances, as is shown by our allotment of praise and blame.

6. The fiction of Free-will, it is said, has its root in the illusion, that the mind is at any moment not merely the aggregate of conscious states then present, but something persisting amid these changing phases. "The collective 'I,' or 'self,' can be nothing different from the feelings, actions, and intelligence of the individual."{25} "Considered as an internal perception, the illusion consists in supposing that at each moment the ego is something more than the aggregate of feelings and ideas, actual and nascent, which then exists."{26} Here, of course, we again reach ultimate and fundamental differences of view. We deny that the ego is merely an aggregate or a series of states. The unity of consciousness refutes such a doctrine. If there were not a permanent abiding principle or subject, underlying our transient conscious states, then memory, reflexion, deliberation, and reasoning would be impossible.

7. Herbert Spencer urges: "Either the Ego which is supposed to determine or will the action is present in consciousness, or it is not. If it is something which is not present in consciousness, it is something of which we are unconscious -- something therefore of whose existence we neither have nor can have any evidence. If it is present, then, as it is ever present, it can be at each moment nothing else than the state of consciousness, simple or compound, passing at that movement."{27}

From neither of the alternatives does the alleged conclusion follow, and the legitimate inference from the second is actually the direct contradictory of that conclusion. Although the Ego were not presented in the consciousness of successive states, yet the possibility of memory and reflexion would afford irresistible evidence of such a permanent subject. But if the Ego were continually present in consciousness, if amid the transient mental states which form the current of our psychical life we were conscious of the Self as ever present, then assuredly it could not be any mere passing state, simple or compound. Surely the fact of being conscious of a permanent self cannot demonstrate that it is merely transitory. Yet this is literally Mr. Spencer's conclusion. The syllogism, however, involves other fallacies. Suppose the Self to determine our volitions, it does not necessarily follow that the Ego must be always distinctly realized in consciousness. At most this need only be on the occasions of the exercise of free or deliberate volition. As a matter of fact, the vividness with which the Ego is apprehended varies in different mental attitudes; but the mere possibility that any past act can be recalled and identified, that we can by any reflex act cognize a mental state as a state of Self, demonstrates that the Ego is something over and above the "passing" states.

Metaphysical Objections. -- 1. "Nothing can begin without a cause; but a free volition has no cause; therefore it is impossible." We grant the major premiss, but deny the minor. The Ego, or Self, is the cause, and a free cause. I can choose which motive is to prevail. Though I follow the weaker attraction, my volition is neither motiveless nor causeless.

2. Free-will is asserted to be in conflict with the Law of Causation. The law of causation is thus expressed by Dr. Bain: "Every event is uniformly preceded by another event; or, To every event there is some antecedent which happening it happens."{28}

In the phenomenalist account of this law there is a lamentable confusion of two distinct truths of quite different orders. The one is the Principle of causality -- "nothing can begin to exist without a cause;" the other is the law of the uniformity of nature -- "the same causes produce the same effects," or, "the laws of nature are constant." The former is a necessary metaphysical principle; and we have explained its bearing on free volitions in the previous answer. The latter generalization is a contingent truth which we can easily conceive subject to exceptions. Suppose now that uniformity was proved from experience in the region of physical science -- a task which the Empirical Philosophy is utterly unable to accomplish. There would yet not have been made any advance towards the demonstration of uniformity within the sphere of mind, where the phenomena are of an utterly opposite character. Again, if within the total assemblage of mental states we find the law to prevail generally, the inference as to its universality may be more or less probable, until our internal experience brings before us a distinct exception. As soon as this occurs -- and our illustrations we consider have established the fact -- a priori probability becomes worthless, and our inductio per enumerationem simplicem falls to the ground. The student should always remember that physical science simply assumes the law of uniform causation; that its universality is merely a postulate to be justified only in metaphysics; and that the metaphysician, who recognizes moral convictions to be not less real nor less weighty facts than those of physical science, is bound to qualify, limit, or interpret the law when applied to moral actions in accordance with his wider and more comprehensive view of experience. The truth is, that though the law of uniformity is fulfilled in the subsequent series of events proceeding from an originating cause, it does not apply in an absolute unqualified manner to the primary originating cause itself.{29}

Objections from Physiology, Physics, and Statistics. -- Physiology. -- According to certain physiologists, e.g., Dr. Maudsley, G. H. Lewes, and Luys, Physiology has disproved the freedom of the Will. This science, it is asserted, has established that the connexion between bodily and mental states is so intimate and continuous that each modification of the mind is inexorably conditioned by some definite molecular change in the substance of the organism. But since the uniformity is rigid among the corporeal changes, it must be equally so among the mental correlates. To this we may reply, that equally distinguished authorities on physiological science deny any such conflict as is alleged between Free-will and that science.{30} As regards the facts asserted, we admit, of course, a very close dependence of mind on body, -- the scholastic doctrine that the soul is the form of the body always laid stress on this truth, -- but we emphatically deny that anything approaching to the shadow of a proof that every act of the former is conditioned and determined by the latter has been made out.

Physics. -- The establishment of the Law of the Conservation of Energy is asserted to have disproved Free-will. This argument applies not merely to free-volition, but to all conscious states, and would prove, if valid, that no bodily movement has ever been influenced by any mental act in the history of the world! We shall examine the difficulty later.

Statistics. -- It is alleged that Free-will is disproved by the existence of the Moral sciences. Buckle, who used to be the classical author on this line of attack, maintains that the actions of men "vary in obedience to the changes in the surrounding society, . . . that such variations are the result of large and general causes which, working upon the aggregate of society, must produce certain consequences without regard to the volition of those particular men of whom the society is composed." He concludes that "suicide is merely the product of the general conditions of society, and the individual felon only carries into effect what is a necessary consequence of preceding circumstances." This is proved by the evidence of statistics, a branch of knowledge which, though still in its infancy, has already thrown more light on the study of human nature than all the sciences put together."{31} The same objection adopted by Mill, Bain, and most other determinists, is evidently considered by them to be one of their most irresistible arguments. Let us first recall the precise point at issue. The defenders of moral freedom maintain that within a certain limited sphere man's volition, and consequently his action, is not inevitably predetermined by his character and surroundings. They admit: (a) that his spontaneous or indeliberate acts are merely the outcome of motive and disposition; (b) that he can never act without some motive -- the most common forms of which being immediate pleasure, permanent self-interest, and duty; (c) that even in deliberate or free actions he is largely influenced, though not inevitably determined, by superior force of attraction. Thus, a man accustomed to give way to a particular temptation, will very probably yield again -- though freely -- when it recurs. It is now at once evident how easily general uniformity, even in individual conduct, is reconcilable with the libertarian view. Furthermore, statistics deal with societies of men, not with the particular human being, and there is no contradiction in the existence of regularity among actions of the community taken as a whole, while the members freely vary. "It is precisely because individual actions are not reducible to any fixed law, or capable of representation by any numerical calculation, that statistical averages acquire their value as substitutes."{32}

Theological Objection: Divine Prescience and Free-will. -- It is argued that God could not foresee with certainty our actions were they free. This is properly a theological difficulty; and for an adequate answer we refer to the volume of this series on Natural Theology. We may, however, point out that it is not strictly accurate to speak of God foreseeing events to come. With Him it is a question of actual insight, of intuitive vision. The past and future are both alike ever present to His infinite changeless intelligence. Not only all that has been and all that will be, but even all events that would occur under any conceivable circumstances lie unfolded before His omniscient mind. It is true that we cannot imagine the nature of such an eternal intelligence, any more than the snail which takes a week to cross a field, can conceive the human vision that simultaneously apprehends in the flash of a single glance leagues of a landscape; but this does not disprove the fact. Logical dependence in the order of knowledge is not the same thing as causal dependence in the ontological order, that of being. Our certainty regarding past or present volitions of ourselves or of others does not affect their freedom; neither does God's vision of our future free actions. He sees them because they will occur; but their occurrence is not necessitated by the certainty of His knowledge.

Finally, it is asserted that if volition is not as rigidly ruled by the law of Uniform Causation as other events, then a science of Psychology is impossible. The objection possesses about equal force with that which alleges that if some miracles are admitted to have occurred in the life of our Lord, or of His Saints, all physical science is thereby annihilated. Mr. Spencer sums up the whole case thus: "To reduce the general question to its simplest form: Psychical changes either conform to law, or they do not. If they do not conform to law, this work, in common with all works on the subject, is sheer nonsense: no science of Psychology is possible. If they do conform to law, there cannot be any such thing as Free-will." The alternative is, of course, especially as regards Mr. Spencer's portly volumes, awful to contemplate. Such a calamity is not, however, inevitable. It is a misconception of the doctrine to affirm that the reality of Free-will can seriously affect the scientific character of Empirical Psychology. The interference of free volition, though ethically momentous, may be psychologically very small. There still may remain sensibility, imagination, memory, intellectual cognition, sensuous appetite, automatic or involuntary movement, habit, and the emotions, as law-abiding as ever. With such wide dominions under the sway of uniformity, and with the Free-will itself subject to the conditions we have enumerated, all anxiety as regards the reconciliation of Freedom with Psychological science disappears.

Readings on the Will. -- St. Thomas, Sum. I. qq. 82. 83.; W. G. Ward, Philosophy of Theism, Essays 6, 7, 10, 11, 17; Martineau, A Study of Religion, Vol. II. pp. 195-328; Carpenter, Mental Physiology, Introduction to 4th Edit, and c. ix.; Father Lucas, Essays in The Month, 1877; Ladd, Physiological Psychology, pp. 524-544. French literature is much richer on this subject. A good compact work is Léon Noël's La Conscience du Libre Arbitre (Louvain, 1899); G. Fonsegrive's exhaustive Essai sur le Libre Arbitre (2nd Edit. Paris, 1896), contains much valuable matter; Abbé Piat's La Liberté (Paris, 2895), Vol. I. contains useful historical matter; Vol. II. has a good chapter on the argument from consciousness. J. Gardair, Les Passions et la Volonté (1892), pp. 300-440, expounds the scholastic doctrine well. See also T. do Regnon's able work, Métaphysique des Causes. The German reader will find a good treatment of the whole subject in Dr. Gutberlets Die Willensfreiheit und ihre Gegner (Fulda, 1893) See also "Freewill" and "Fatalism," by the Author, in the American Catholic Encyclopedia.


{1} Cf. Sidgwick, op. cit. p. 46; Martineau, op. cit. p. 188; James, The Will to Believe (1898), p. 150.

{2} Léon Noël states this argument well: "Si nous n'étions pas libres, le bien nous apparaîtrait comme un idéal nous manifestant sa beauté et sollicitant notre amour. Il serait le terme d'une tendance analogue à l'admiration esthétique. . . . Ce n'est pas ainsi que le bien s'offre à nous. Il ne nous présente pas un idéal, attendant, pour nuns entraîner à l'action, qu'il lui réponde un attrait assez puissant. Il nous apparaît sous la forme austère du devoir, nous imposant une loi à accomplir toujours, quelles que soient nos dispositions et nos tendances. Pour qu'un sentiment pareil ne soit pas absurde, il faut que nous soyons libres. L'impératif absolu du devoir suppose une puissance supérieure à toutes les circomstances, n'ayant besoin que d'elle-même pour lui obéir.'' (La Conscience du Libre Arbitre, p. 165.)

{3} Cf. G. L. Fonsegrive: Quand on dit, en effet, qu'on a mérité une récompense on une punition, on vent dire non pas seulement que nécessairement il résultera de l'acte accompli un plaisir ou une douleur, mais qu'on s'est créée des droits soi-même à ce plaisir ou à cette douleur. Cela est si vrai que nous regarderions tons comme injustes une récompense ou une punition qui seraient les conséquences d'une action accomplie par nous sans notre assentiment intérieur." (Essai sur le Libre Arbitre, p. 509.)

{4} Professor Alexander, who attacks the doctrine of Free-will in his Chapter on Responsibility, writes: "Responsibility depends on two things. First that a man is capable of being influenced by what is right, that he can feel the force of goodness; and second that whatever he does is determined by his character." (Moral Order and Progress, p. 335.) Now if every human act is thus absolutely determined by character, how can I justly pronounce the Brockton murderer, mentioned above, to he worthy of reprobation rather than pity; or the man who perseveringly struggles against temptation to be meritorious? The character and every volition of each throughout his life were alike inexorably predetermined for him by his inherited organism and environment. Neither of these men have ever had for a second in their lives the real power of making a different choice than that which they have made. Again, Mill's statement that responsibility means "the knowledge that if we do wrong we shall deserve punishment," is plausible only because it explains one free-will term by another. With the latter we have already dealt.

{5} Sidgwick, op. cit. Bk. I. c. v. § 2; Mandsley, op. cit. p. 415.

{6} Cf. Léon Noël: "La prédominance de l'idée qui triomphe s'obtient précisément par le fait de l'activité volitive qui la soutenait et commandait le jeu des représentations. Cette même activité, maintenant, se tourne définitivement vers elle, de tout son poids, et c'est ce qui constitute la volition. Elle ne surgit pas soudainement, par l'action de l'idée et des motifs; depuis longtemps elle se trouvait préparée dans la conscience, par une force ma&icurc;tresse de l'idée et des motifs." (Op. cit. p. 194.)

{7} James, Principles of Psychology, Vol. I. p. 453.

{8} "Il y a entre l'hésitation et la délibération une différence importante. Hésiter, c'est proprement subir passivement des impulsions motrices, osciller tantôt dans un sens, tantôt dans l'autre; délibérer c'est ne subir aucune impulsion, mais les soumettre toutes au jugement actif de l'esprit, afin de juger de la valeur de leurs résultats. . . . Or les seuls actes vraiment volontaires, les seuls qu'on appelle libres, soot ceux qui sont précédés d'une délibération; et ils sont d'autant plus volontaires que la délibération a été plus attentive." (Fonsegrive, op. cit. p. 423).

{9} Methods of Ethics, p. 64. What we are directly and positively conscious of is not that we are able to move our limbs -- that we know by past experience -- nor yet that we shall be able to choose in the next second; this also is an inference and may be falsified by death, &c. The affirmation of consciousness is that now in the moment of consent or refusal I freely elect.

{10} Martineau, A Study of Religion, pp. 214, 215.

{11} The Volitional effort should be carefully distinguished from Muscular effort. James does this well, Principles of Psychology, Vol. II p. 562; Cf. also Noël, Op. cit. pp. 229-234.

{12} Cf. M. Piat: ' Il existe une profonde différence entre mes représentations et mes volitions morales. Mes représentations viennent de je ne sais quelle région de mon être et s'imposent à ma conscience. Elles se font en moi sans moi. Je ne les produis pas; Je les subis. Il en va tout autrement des actes que j'accomplis pour me conformer à la loi morale. Ces actes ne se passant pas en moi sans mon concours; je ne suis seulement spectateur de leur évolution; je les tire de mon propre fond et par un effort qui ne dépend que de moi. Quand je lutte contre une passion, je sens bien la sollicitation de l'id&eacure;al et le charme du bien qui m'appellent en haut; mais ce que je sens avec non moins de netteté, c'est que cette sollicitation et ce charme n'ont rien d'analogue à une force, si subtile et délicate qu'on la suppose, qui me tire et montraîne à sa suite. C'est par un effort qui m'est propre, par une tension de mon énergie, que j'opine pour lui contre la passion." (La Liberté, Vol. II. p. 94.)

{13} Cited by Maudsley, op. cit. p. 409.

{14} Op. cit. p. 340.

{15} Emotions and Will (3rd Edit.), pp. 483, 492, 500.

{16} Op. cit. p. 412.

{17} Manual of Psychology, pp. 590, 614.

{18} Mill, Exam. (2nd Edit.), p. 505.

{19} Emotions and Will (2nd Edit.), p. 409.

{20} Exam. p. 519.

{21} H. Spencer, Principles of Psychology, § 219.

{22} The Study of Psychology, p. 309.

{23} Sidgwick, op. cit. Bk. I. c. v n. 2.

{24} Lewes, op. cit p. 302.

{25} Dr. Bain, Mental Science, p. 402.

{26} Spencer, Principles of Psychology, § 219.

{27} Ibidem, 219.

{28} Dr. Bain's Logic, Vol. I. p. 27. Cf. also p. 226, and Mill's Logic, Bk. III. c. v. § 2. Mill endeavoured, and as is now admitted unsuccessfully, to prove this law. Dr. Bain abandoned the attempt as hopeless. On the confusion of the principle of causality with the uniformity of nature, cf. Fowler's Inductive Logic, pp. 24-26: also Knight's Hume, pp. 161-163.

{29} See an admirable article by Father H. Lucas in The Month, February, 1877, pp. 248, seq.

{30} See the writings of Beale, Carpenter, and Ladd. Carpenter's Mental Physiology is replete with excellent observations on this subject. Ladd writes: "Nothing of scientific value which Physiological Psychology has to offer, throws any clear light on the problem of the 'freedom of the will' . . . When M. Luys, for example, maintains that to imagine 'we think of an object by a spontaneous effort of the mind is an illusion,' and that, in fact, the Object is only forced on us by the cunning conjurer, the brain, 'because the cell-territory where that object resides has been previously set vibrating in the brain,' he is controverting a plain and universal dictum of consciousness by his private and unverifiable hypothesis on a question of cerebral Physiology where experts and novices are alike ignorant. Physiology neither disproves nor verifies the postulate of free-will; accordingly this postulate must be raised and discussed on other grounds." (Physiological Psychology, p. 544.)

{31} History of Civilization in England, pp 24, 30.

{32} Mansel, Prolegomena Logica, p. 343. The inefficiency of the statistic objection is well shown from two widely opposed views of Causation by Dr. Venn and Dr. Martineau. Dr. Venn points out: (1) That there is a certain illegitimate gain in the apparent force of the difficulty by the selection of sensational cases, such as the regularity of suicides, misdirected letters, and the like. The emotional shock of surprise aroused by such discoveries makes us mistake their logical value, which does not exceed that of regularity in meals, or in wearing clothes. (2) Mere uniformity of an average proves nothing as to invariable determination of the individual action. Were there a purely random or chance factor among the agencies at work, this would not affect deductions from the theory of Probability. If a sufficiently large numher of observations were taken we would be justified in expecting that the random occurrences on the positive and negative sides would be approximately equal. Thus in tossing a collection of pennies, whether they were completely necessitated or partly free we should expect a uniform average of heads and tails in the long run. (3) "The antecedents and consequents in the case of our volitions must clearly be supposed to be very nearly immediately in succession, if anything approaching to causation is to be established." But nothing of the kind is or can be attempted in statistical averages. It is probable that no two of the three hundred suicides in London last year were precisely alike in antecedents; and very few, if any, of this year resembled in all details those of last year. If it could, for instance, be shown that three hundred individuals of last year, and again of this year, under the action of three hundred precisely similar sheaves of motives put an end to their lives, then the determinist would have made some progress. The statistician does not attempt to show such similarity. "In fact, instead of having secured our A and B (motive and volition) here in closest intimacy of succession to one another, we find them separated by a considerable interval, often indeed we merely have an A or a B by itself." (Venn, Logic of Chance, c. ix, §§ 16-21.) Cf. Martineau, op. cit. pp. 255-272. We need scarcely say that with his theological explanation later on of the relation of God's foreknowledge to our free volitions, we do not agree.

{33} Principles of Psych. i. § 220.

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