Images de page
PDF
ePub

that he might have chosen the other. The case is very similar to that of drawing from a bag which contains two balls precisely similarly circumstanced in my regard. I I know by experience that I can draw the one. I have a certain conviction founded upon this experience that I could have drawn the other.

We have been longer than we anticipated in our attempt to elucidate this matter of consciousness, and in explaining how far we are indebted to consciousness for a knowledge of the Freedom of the Will. As to the objection which declares that we do not possess this consciousness, and which has led us into these explanations, we have only to remark that it is one to which each of our readers must reply for himself. We have endeavoured to clear the ground and to put him in a position to interrogate his own consciousness. What may be its answer each one must judge for himself. For our own part we confidently assert that in every act of volition we are conscious that we ourselves produce the act, and that we are unconscious of any necessity to produce it ; and thus we meet, by a flat denial, the objector's assertion that consciousness does not inform us that every act of Will is free.

The next objection we shall consider is closely allied to the preceding. It admits, indeed, the existence of the consciousness of Freedom, but denies its significance. It contends, on the contrary, that even were the act of Will not free, our consciousness would be precisely the same as it is now. Thus reasons the celebrated Bayle: “ By the clear and precise consciousness (sentiment),says he, "which we have of our existence, we do not discover whether we exist of ourselves or whether we are indebted to another for that which we are... So also we may say that the clear and precise consciousness that we have of the acts of our Will cannot enable us to discern whether we have produced them ourselves, or whether we receive them from the same cause that gives us existence. We must have recourse to reflection and meditation in order to arrive at this discernment. Now I maintain it as a fact, that by philosophic meditations alone we can never arrive at a well-founded certainty that we are the efficient cause of our volitions, for every one who will carefully examine matters, will know with entire evidence that, even though we were merely passive subjects with regard to the Will, we should experience the same feelings that we have now that we believe

[ocr errors]

ourselves free.” Further on he asks, “Do you not clearly perceive that a weather-cock, upon which there was impressed at the same time both a movement to a certain point of the horizon and an inclination to turn to that point, would be persuaded that it moved itself in order to execute the desires which it formed ?" We take exception to this reasoning on more grounds than one. In the first place, it is not a fair representation of the facts of the case. In the case of our existence we are conscious that we exist, but we have no consciousness as to when or how we began to exist. We do not feel that we have any power over our existence, or that it depends upon us for its continuance or cessation. All this is exactly reversed in the case of Will. Our consciousness does tell us when the act of Willing began and whence it proceeded. It tells us too that, as it was we ourselves who produced it, so is it we ourselves who continue it, and though consciousness may not testify to what would be, yet have we, on other grounds, the firmest conviction that it would cease the moment we discontinue our effort. It is not then true that we are conscious of Willing only in the same way as we are conscious of existing Of the latter we are conscious as of a fact concerning us, in which we are, comparatively speaking, passive; of the former as of a fact which we ourselves are producing, in which we are wholly active and in no degree passive.

The true statement of the deliverance of consciousness in regard to the Will is, not that we are in a state of Willing but that we are in the act of Willing. Indeed, there is no act that we perform that can in a sense so proper and peculiar be called our own as an act of Will. And this will be seen by comparing it with other acts. We suffer, we see, we think, we imagine, we believe ; but in every one of these acts we shall find that there is an element which is not our own; that when certain conditions have been realized we have no direct power over them; that they are in a great degree forced upon us, so that we may be more properly said to be passive than active in regard to them. Take, for instance, the case of suffering. It is true it is I who suffer, but if I am injured can I help it? Can I bid the pain to continue or to cease just as I please? Take again the case of imagination. Am I conscious of how the combined picture of departed friends and distant places comes into my mind? Was it by an effort of my own activity that I, as it were, conjured them out of nothing ? Or do they not rather seem to have arisen hap-hazard and to have sprung from I know not whence? Consider too the case of belief, which perhaps after the Will is usually regarded as the power over which we have most control; and here too, the contrast is most marked. If a self-evident proposition is stated to me, is not the belief of it forced upon me? Or if very strong testimony of a fact is laid before me, can I help forming an opinion as to its probability ? And does it not seem that the attitude which my mind takes with regard to the truth or the event is formed in me rather than by me? The case is quite different with regard to the Will. Whatever may be the object proposed to me, however alluring it may be, and however much it may kindle a longing for it either in the sensitive or natural appetite, yet am I conscious that the final act of Will, by which I determine to seek it or reject it, is my own; that I produce it and that I control it, and I know that its continuance or cessation is in my own hands. If there be any truth in these remarks, then is it clear that Bayle has not fairly represented the case in point when he assumes a parity between our consciousness of existence and our consciousness of Willing.

In the second place it strikes us that Bayle has adopted rather an odd mode of reasoning when he strives to found an argument against Free Will upon his illustration of the conscious weather-cock. Our whole idea and knowledge of consciousness is derived from our study and experience of ourselves; and so, it is clear, we can have no knowledge of what in given circumstances would be the feelings of a conscious weather-cock except from the consciousness of what our own feelings are under circumstances precisely similar. It seems to us, therefore, as we have said, rather an odd, indeed an absolutely suicidal proceeding, to endeavour to ascertain what would be the feelings of the weather-cock, and having formed our conclusion then to turn round upon our original consciousness, and by means of our supposed conclusion impugn its verdict. If the verdicts are really different, the most that can be inferred is, that the cases are not similar, and that the imaginary transfer of our consciousness to the weather-cock has been either not faithful or not complete. This, I think, we can show to have been the case, and in this consists our third ground of objection to Bayle's reasoning.

We accept, then, his conscious weather-cock as an illustration apt enough for the purpose, but we contend that it illustrates just the reverse of what it was intended to do. The vane, then, we will suppose to be endowed with an inclination of which it is conscious to veer to the north, and that a movement towards this point of which it is also conscious is impressed upon it. The question is, What would be its feelings? Would it have the same sense of freedom that we have whenever we elicit an act of the Will? Bayle maintains that it would, and moreover, as the feeling would be fallacious in the one case, so may it be equally so in the other. As we have said, we can form no just idea of what would be the feelings of the weather-cock except from our consciousness of what our own would be under similar circumstances. We must then reverse the proceeding of Bayle, and, having accepted his supposition of the moving and conscious weather-cock, put ourselves in an exactly similar position and then interrogate consciousness. Suppose then I have a strong desire to visit Oxford, of which, of course, I am conscious; here is the weather-cock conscious of an inclination to veer to the north. Suppose further that I am taken up bodily, placed in a railway carriage and carried thither; here again is the weathercock carried round by the force of the wind. What would now be my consciousness? Is it not clear that I should be conscious that I had a wish to go to Oxford, and conscious that I was being moved towards it. But it would not be necessary that I should have taken any determination at all respecting my journey, and so I need not be conscious of having produced an act of Will properly so called, and so should not have what Bayle would call the fallacious consciousness of Free Will. What is true of myself must necessarily, so far as our knowledge goes, be true of the weather-cock, and thus the illlustration serves to confirm rather than to refute our Free Will.

As our space is limited we must reserve for a future paper the consideration of any further arguments against the Freedom of the Will.

THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE.

[ocr errors]

An interesting book* bearing the title of this article was published last year. It includes a preliminary note by Professor Tyndall. The work to some extent covers the ground taken by Professor Draper in his well-known work The History of the Conflict between Religion and Science. The author deals with this conflict in several departments, such as geography, geology, medicine, &c., in a very clear and impartial manner.

"My thesis,” he says, “which, by an historical study of this warfare, I expect to develop, is the following :-In all modern history, interference with science in the supposed interest of religion, no matter how conscientious such interference may have been, has resulted in the direst evils both to religion and to science--and invariably. And, on the other hand, all untrammelled scientific investigation, no matter how dangerous to religion some of its stages may have seemed for the time to be, has invariably resulted in the greatest good to religion and science.

We think the work fully establishes the conclusions thus stated by the author.

The various weapons which have been used by the Church or its representatives may be classified as follows:

1.-Contempt and abuse ad libitum, involving a free use of the terms “Atheist,” “Infidel,” “Mahommedan,' ” Sorcerer,” “In league with the devil,” &c. &c.

2.- The threat of excommunication and everlasting damnation, wherever scientific teaching has appeared to be opposed to theological dogmas.

3.-Admonitions, forbidding scientific men to teach or publish their discoveries ; threats of physical punishments.

4.-Infliction of physical punishments, such as imprisonments, tortures, banishment or death.

The chief methods of “argument" adopted were: 1. That science was contrary to doctrine; 2. That science was contrary to Scripture (i.e. the Church's interpretation of Scripture); 3. False inferences from irrelevant data.

Geography.—The revival of the Platonic idea of the

(

* The Warfare of Science, by Andrew Dickson White, LL.D. (Henry S. King and Co.)

« PrécédentContinuer »