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fidered in two different points of view—either popular or philosophical. In the popular sense it is unquestionably true; in the philosophical sense it is demonstrably falfe: but Mr. Locke obviously confounds these two different views of the subject; and though he admits all the premises from which the conclusions in favour of Philosophical Necefsity are deduced, he refuses to acknowledge the justness of those conclusions, because there is a sense in which men may be considered as free agents.
In this chapter there is much extraneous matter; and Mr. Locke wanders frequently from the subject he professes to discuss, to which he never reverts without great apparent reluctance: but though there are in his digreffive observations very objectionable passages, I shall confine my remarks to those arguments and affertions which bear an immediate relation to the point. “Liberty,” says Mr. Locke; fect. 8.“ is a power in any agent " to do or to forbear any particular action, accord
ing to the determination or thought of the « mind.” This definition is consonant to the popular view of the subject; and it may be called practical Liberty, which no Philosopher ever pretended to call in question. Metaphysical Liberty is a power of forming oppofite determinations in the same precise situation.
A man in any given circumftances may undoubtedly act as he wills or pleases ; but then the act, whatever it be, is a definite act, and in the same precise previous circumstances the same act would invariably take place; for the act results from the previous circumstances, and
perfect uniformity in the cause must produce perfect uniformity in the effect. Whatever the ignorant or the vulgar may fancy, therefore, throughout the entire series of causes and effects, nothing could possibly have happened different from what has actually taken place. The course of events is fixed and immutable, and thoughts, volitions, and actions, proceed in one uninterrupted concatenation from the beginning to the end of time, agreeably to the laws originally established by the great Creator ; and it is as impossible to disturb the regular progression of causes and effects in the mental as in the material world. A river may as soon be made to flow back to its fountain, as volitions can be exempted from the necessitating influence of motives.
Mr. Locke farther tells us, and very justly, fect. 2. that“ voluntary is not opposed to necessary, but to s involuntary;" that is, in other words, that there is no real contrariety in the ideas conveyed by the terms voluntary and necessary, but that they may Both be predicated of the same action. A man is said to act voluntarily when he is under no external constraint; but though he acts voluntarily, he may and must act neceffarily, if the action is determined by motives previously existing in his own breast. A man of a charitable disposition, for instance, bestows a benefaction for the relief of some indigent object in distress. The act is no doubt voluntary, but it is likewise, strictly speaking, necessary; for in the precise situation of mind in which the gift
was bestowed, he was irresistibly influenced by mo tives of generosity to confer this donation : but it may be said, he could have withheld it if he had pleased. No doubt he could; but the question is, How he could have pleased to withhold his benefaction at the very moment in which he was pleased to bestow it? So far then Mr. Locke maintains nothing inconsistent with the principles of Philosophical Necessity; nay, he makes the same distinctions, and defends them in the same manner, that the Necessarians themselves are accustomed to do.
Again, Mr. Locke observes, fect. 13. that “where “ the power to act or forbear, according to the di“rection of thought, is wanting, there Necessity “ takes place.” Most certainly it does. In that case even popular Liberty is wanting. But philosophical Neceflity may take place, where the power to act or forbear, according to the direction of thə thought, is not wanting. In any given or definite situation of mind, we may either act or forbear to act, as we please. This all allow; but in the same precise situation of mind we cannot possibly do both. If, in the first instance, I determine to act, let me be placed precisely in the fame situation once more, and I must inevitably form the fame determination, as, upon the contrary supposition, the determination not to act must be equally limited and definite. When we say, with a reference to any particular case, a man has power to act or to forbear as he pleases, &c. there is in fact no uncertainty in the nature of the thing ;
and the seeming uncertainty implied in the ex, pression denotes only our own ignorance of the event. The place in which a billiard ball must finally rest, after being struck, is necessarily determined by the laws of motion, though if it is not obstructed by any external impediment, we fay in common language, that it is at liberty to settle upon any part of the billiard table.
“ If this be so," continues Mr.Locke, fect. "I leave it to be considered, whether it may not help to put an end to that long agitated and unreasonable, because unintelligible, question, Whether man's will be free or no? It is as insignificant to ask, whether man's will be free? as to ask, whether his sleep be swift, or his virtue square ? Liberty being as little applicable to the will, as motion to sleep, or figure to virtue. Liberty is a power which can belong only to agents, and cannot be an attribute of the will, which is also but a power." Now it is obvious to remark, that it is one thing, to object to the discussion of a question, as infignificant in itfelf; and an. other, to object to a particular statement of it, as improper. The question accurately stated is, doubtless, not whether the will, but whether the man or agent be free; and Mr. Locke surely could not flatter himself that he had dune much towards putting an end to the question respecting free agency, by merely proposing a more accurate statement of it, though the former state. ment was by no means, as he afferts, either un.
reasonable or unintelligible. By the question, * Whether the will be free?" was, and still is, universally understood, whether the man or intelligent agent be free in willing, or in forming volitions ; and I never heard of any advocates for philosophical Liberty, who pretended that the will was free, as contra-distinguished from the agent willing ; so that this observation resolves itself into little better than a quibble. To the question then, “ Whether a man be free ?” Mr. Locke, fe&t. 21. answers to the same effect as before, “ that a man is as free as it is possible for freedom to make him, who possesses the power of acting or not acting, by the determination of his own thoughts ; for how, says he, can we think any one freer than to have the power to do what he will ?”. True; so say the Necessitarians; but they maintain that this is perfectly consistent with their grand axiom, that “ volitions must be definite in definite circumstances.” “ But, says Mr. Locke, “ freedom, unless it reaches farther than this, will not serve the turn: concerning human Liberty, therefore, this question is farther raised, Whether a man be free to will? which I think, says he, is what is meant, when it is difputed whether the will be free.” No doubt it is ; and this proves with how little justice he represents it as an unintelligible question. "As to that, he replies, “a man in respect of willing cannot be free; for, Liberty consisting in a power to act or not to act, it is absolutely necessary T4