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has of that good; because all together concur to constitute the degree in which the object appears at present agreeable ; and accordingly will volition be determined.
I might further observe, that the state of the mind which views a proposed object of choice, is another thing that contri. butes to the agreeableness or disagreeableness of that object; the particular temper which the mind has by nature, or that has been introduced and established by education, example, custom, or some other means; or the frame or state that the mind is in on a particular occasion. That object which appears agreeable to one, does not so to another. And the same ob. ject does not always appear alike agreeable to the same person, at different times. It is most agreeable to some men, to follow their reason; and to others, to follow their appetites : to some men, it is more agreeable to deny a vicious inclination, that to gratify it: others it suits best to gratify the vilest appetites. It is more disagreeable to some men than others, to counter-act a former resolution. In these respects, and many others which might be mentioned, different things will be most agreeable to different persons; and not only so, but to the same persons at different times.
But possibly it is needless to mention the “state of the mind," as a ground of the agreeableness of objects distinct from the other two mentioned before; viz. The apparent nature and circumstances of the objects viewed, and the manner of the view. Perhaps, if we strictly consider the matter, the different temper and state of the mind makes no alteration as to the agreeableness of objects, any other way, than as it makes the objects themselves appear differently beautiful or deformed, having apparent pleasure or pain attending them; and, as it occasions the manner of the view to be different, causes the idea of beauty or deformity, pleasure or uneasiness to be more or less lively.
However, I think so much is certain, that volition, in no one instance that can be mentioned, is otherwise than the greatest apparent good is, in the manner which has been explained. The choice of the mind never departs from that which, at the time, and with respect to the direct and imme. diate objects of decision, appears most agreeable and pleasing, all things considered. If the immediate objects of the will are a man's own actions, then those actions which appear most agreeable to him he wills. If it be now most agreeable to him, all things considered, to walk, then he now wills to walk. If it be now, upon the whole of what at present appears to him, most agreeable to speak, then he chooses to speak: if it suits him best to keep silence, then he chooses to keep silence. There is scarcely a plainer and more universal dictate of the sense and experience of mankind, than that, when men act vo
luntarily, and do what they please, then they do what suits them best, or what is most agreeable to them. To say, that they do what pleases them, but yet not what is agreeable to them, is the same thing as to say, they do what they please, but do not act their pleasure; and that is to say, that they do what they please, and yet do not what they please.
It appears from these things, that in some sense, the Will always follows the last dictate of the understanding. But then the understanding must be taken in a large sense, as including the whole faculty of perception or apprehension, and not merely what is called reason or judgment. If by the dictate of the understanding is meant what reason declares to be best, or most for the person's happiness, taking in the whole of its duration, it is not true, that the Will always follows the last dictate of the understanding. Such a dictate of reason is quite a different matter from things appearing now most agreeable, all things being put together which pertain to the mind's present preceptions in any respect : although that dictate of reason, when it takes place, has concern in the compound influence which moves the Will; and should be considered in estimating the degree of that appearance of good which the Will always follows; either as having its influence added to other things, or subducted from them. When such dictate of reason concurs with other things, then its weight is added to them, as put into the same scale; but when it is against them, it is as a weight in the opposite scale, resisting the influence of other things : yet its resistance is often overcome by their greater weight, and so the act of the Will is determined in opposition to it.
These things may serve, I hope, in some measure, to illustrate and confirm the position laid down in the beginning of this section, viz. “That the Will is always determined by the strongest motive," or by that view of the mind which has the greatest degree of previous tendency to excite volition. But whether I have been so happy as rightly to explain the thing wherein consists the strength of motives, or not, yet my failing in this will not overthrow the position itself; which carries much of its own evidence with it, and is a point of chief importance to the purpose of the ensuing discourse : And the truth of it, I hope, will appear with great clearness, before I have finished what I have to say on the subject of human liberty.
Concerning the Meaning of the Terms Necessity, Impossibility,
Inability, foc. and of Contingence. The words necessary, impossible, fc. are abundantly used in controversies about Free Will and Moral Agency; and therefore the sense in which they are used, should be clearly understood.
Here I might say, that a thing is then said to e necessary, when it must be, and cannot be otherwise. But this would not properly be a definition of Necessity, any more than if I explained the word must by the phrase, there being a Necessity. The words must, can, and cannot, need explication as much as the words necessary and impossible ; excepting that the former are words that in earliest life we more commonly use.
The word necessary, as used in common speech, is a re. lative term; and relates to some supposed opposition made to the existence of a thing, which opposition is overcome, or proves insufficient to hinder or alter it. That is necessary, in the original and proper sense of the word, which is, or will be, notwithstanding all supposable opposition. To say, that a thing is necessary, is the same thing as to say, that it is impossible, it should not be. But the word impossible is manifestly a relative term, and has reference to supposed power exerted to bring a thing to pass, which is insufficient for the effect; as the word unable is relative, and has relation to ability, or endeavour, which is insufficient. Also the word irresistible is relative, and has always reference to resistance which is made, or may be made, to some force or power tending to an effect, and is insufficient to withstand the power, or hinder the effect. The common notion of Necessity and Impossibility implies something that frustrates endeavour or desire.
Here several things are to be noted.
1. Things are said to be necessary in general, which are or will be notwithstanding any supposable opposition from whatever quarter. But things are said to be necessary to us, which are or will be notwithstanding all opposition supposable in the case from us. The same may be observed of the word impossible, and other such like terms.
2. These terms necessary, impossible, irresistible, 8-c. more especially belong to controversies about liberty and moral agency, as used in the latter of the two senses now mention
ed, viz. as necessary or impossible to us, and with relation to any supposable opposition or endeavour of ours.
3. As the word Necessity, in its vulgar and common use, is relative, and has always reference to some supposable insufficient opposition ; so when we speak of any thing as necessary to us, it is with relation to some supposable opposition of our Wills, or some voluntary exertion or effort of ours to the contrary. For we do not properly make opposition to an event, any otherwise than as we voluntarily oppose it. Things are said to be what must be, or necessarily are, as to us, when they are, or will be, though we desire or endeavour the contrary, or try to prevent or remove their existence : but such opposition of ours always either consists in, or implies opposition of our wills.
It is manifest that all such like words and phrases, as vulgarly used, are understood in this manner. A thing is said to be necessary, when we cannot help it, let us do what we will. So any thing is said to be impossible to us, when we would do it, or would have it brought to pass, and endeavour it; or at least may be supposed to desire and seek it ; but all our desires and endeavours are, or would be vain. And that is said to be irresistible, which overcomes all our opposition, resistance, and endeavour to the contrary. And we are said to be unable to do a thing, when our supposable desires and endeavours are insufficient.
We are accustomed, in the common use of language, thus to apply and understand these phrases: we grow up with such a habit; which, by the daily use of these terms from our childhood, becomes fixed and settled; so that the idea of a relation to a supposed will, desire, and endeavour of ours, is strongly connected with these terms, whenever we hear the words used. Such ideas, and these words, are so associated, that they unavoidably go together; one suggests the other, and never can be easily separated as long as we live. And though we use the words, as terms of art, in another sense, yet, unless we are exceedingly circumspect, we shall insensibly slide into the vulgar use of them, and so apply the words in a very inconsistent manner, which will deceive and confound us in our reasonings and discourses, even when we pretend to use them as terms of art.
4. It follows from what has been observed, that when these terms necessary, impossible, irresistible, unable, fc. are used in cases wherein no insufficient will is supposed, or can be supposed, but the very nature of the supposed case itself excludes any opposition, will or endeavour, they are then not used in their proper signification. The reason is manifest; in such cases we cannot use the words with reference to a supposable opposition, will or endeavour. And therefore if any
man uses these terms in such cases, he either uses them nonsensically, or in some new sense, diverse from their original and proper meaning. As for instance; if any one should affirm after this manner, That it is necessary for a man, or what must be, that he should choose virtue rather than vice, during the time that he prefers virtue to vice; and that it is a thing impossible and irresistible, that it should be otherwise than that he should have this choice, so long as this choice continues; such a one would use the terms must, irresistible, fc. with either perfect insignificance, or in some new sense, diverse from their common use; which is with reference, as has been observed, to supposable opposition, unwillingness and resistance; whereas, here, the very supposition excludes and denies any such thing : for the case supposed is that of being willing, and choosing.
5. It appears from what has been said, that these terms necessary, impossible, foc. are often used by philosophers and metaphysicians in a sense quite diverse from their common and original signification ; for they apply them to many cases in which no opposition is supposable. Thus they use them with respect to God's existence before the creation of the world, when there was no other being ; with regard to many of the dispositions and acts of the divine Being, such as his loving himself, his loving righteousness, hating sin, &c. So they apply them to many cases of the inclinations and actions of created intelligent beings, wherein all opposition of the Will is excluded in the very supposition of the case.
Metaphysical or Philosophical Necessity is nothing different from their certainty. I speak not now of the certainty of knowledge, but the certainty that is in things themselves, which is the foundation of the certainty of the knowledge, or that wherein lies the ground of the infallibility of the proposition which affirms them.
What is sometimes given as the definition of philosophical Necessity, namely, " That by which a thing cannot but be," or “whereby it cannot be otherwise,” fails of being a proper explanation of it, on two accounts: First, the words can, or cannot, need explanation as much as the word Necessity; and the former may as well be explained by the latter, as the latter by the former. Thus, if any one asked us what we mean, when we say, a thing cannot but be, we might explain ourselves by saying, it must necessarily be so; as well as explain Necessity, by saying, it is that by which a thing cannot but be. And Secondly, this definition is liable to the forementioned great inconvenience ; the words cannot, or unable, are properly relative, and have relation to power exerted, or that may be exerted, in order to the thing spoken of; to which