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JULY, 1905.



The freedom of the will is not now for philosophy the burning question that it has been in the past. Philosophy has come to recognize that the opposition between Determinism and Indeterminism is to a large extent unreal. Neither of these theories now receive much serious support in their extreme form. We know that the liberty of bare indifference is not freedom, but caprice; that it is not what the moral consciousness really demands, but, on the contrary, would make morality impossible. On the other hand, Determinism in its old mechanical form is as obsolete as the rival theory. We may dispute what the relation between moral and mechanical causation is, but we have no doubt that there is a distinction between them: that the will cannot be completely explained by mechanical categories. The Kantian conception of autonomy, which makes freedom consist in obedience to a self-imposed law, has to a large extent satisfied the demands of both theories. No doubt, the conception of the autonomy of the will as stated by Kant involved serious difficulties. It regarded freedom as an ideal to which only the good will is adequate rather than as a characteristic of all will. The rigidity of Kant's statements and his attitude towards feeling and desire made autonomy of the will an ideal which almost no action ever attains. But his conception of the will as legislative has been fruitful and has finally settled the old controversy. We agree with Determinism that Vol. XV– No. 4.


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