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sense than a stone moves, i. e. neither contributes any thing to the production of the changes, only so far as they are the subjects of them. We might with the same propriety say that the motion of a stone is an act or action, and in the exercise of it the stone is active; for all that Dr. Edwards means by these affirmations in application to the mind, is as true of the stone as of the mind. The only conception which survives this philosophical wreck of mental agency, is the bare one of subjectivity. All mental causality in the production of volitions is swept away, not by logical deduction from the principles of a system, but by the candid acknowledgment of one of its ablest expounders.
It is of great importance in this discussion not to institute a false or a merely verbal issue. Such a procedure gains nothing in the discovery of truth; it defeats the triumph of argument; for to make and then demolish a man of straw is a work to which the merest tyro is adequate. It may therefore be of service in this stage of the inquiry to entertain and consider certain objections against the above interpretation, which are urged by the defenders of the Edwardean scheme. The general objection is that the scheme is not understood by its opponents. This charge is repeatedly brought against Dr. West by the younger Edwards, and in some instances the criticism is correct. It will not then, I trust, be labor lost to spend a few moments in listening to the admonitions of the objector, and viewing the subject in the attitude in which he may present it.
It may be said, that Dr. Edwards never intended to deny that mind is cause of volition in every sense ; that although his language seems to involve this broad ground, still his scheme was, that motive is cause in part, and the mind in part, and that the two made up the complex idea of the cause of volition. The suggestion deserves a hearing. In regard to it I offer the following observations.
(1.) Dr. Edwards himself has presented no such view. The suggestion is not his, thinking and writing for himself, but the invention of some disciple thinking for him, or as he would have him think. Many shrink from going the whole length of the Edwardean system, while they are not satisfied with the opposite ground; hence they retain the name, but modify the substance. The above is the more usual modification. Let it be recollected, however, that it is not the work of Dr. Edwards, but of his successors. He never for once indicated the slightest
misgivings as to his own ground; he exults there and challenges his opponents to make the most of his concessions.
(2.) Again, what he says on page 372 is of high authority in settling this question. He says“For every cause of volition is included in President Edwards's definition of motive." He then quotes the definition: “By motive I mean the whole of that which moves, excites, or invites the mind to volition, whether it be one thing singly or many things conjunctly." This is followed by declaring the sentiment of Dr. Clarke and others, that the mind is cause of volition, to be an evasion and an absurdity. Every cause of volition being included in the term motive, it follows that there is no other cause besides motive. If Dr. Edwards, then, be supposed to view the mind as cause of volition in any sense, he must be supposed to include mind under the term motive. But this is not allowable by the very definition of motive, since motive is that which expends its efficiency on the mind, and is therefore distinct from the mind. Neither President nor Dr. Edwards ever dreamed of including mind itself in the definition of motive. If they did not mean thus to include mind, then the definition of motive, as including every cause of volition, certainly excludes mind from all participation as a cause.
(3.) Again, it is a favorite argument with both the Elder and the Younger Edwards, that, if we deny motive to be the cause of volition, we involve the supposition that volition has no
The latter says—“Yet, from the supposition that volition is not the effect of a cause extrinsic to the mind in which it takes place, it will follow that there is no cause of it; because it is absolutely impossible that the mind itself should be the cause of it.” This was said in reply to a suggestion of Dr. Price, that self-determination did not imply an effect without a cause, since the mind itself was assumed to be the cause. Now this inference does not follow without the previous assumption, that the mind is not in any sense the cause of volition ; for if it might be cause in any sense, in that sense there might be a cause of volition, even if extrinsic causality were denied. The validity of the reasoning depends on the total denial of mental causality.
(4.) It is also argued by Dr. Edwards, that to suppose the mind to cause volition implies the absurdity of an infinite series of volitions. If this absurdity follow at all, it equally attends the supposition that the mind is cause in part, cause in any
sense, as that it is cause entire and complete. The reasoning strikes at the nature of all caụsation, and is equally good, whether we suppose a given phenomenon to be the product of one or a dozen causes. If we assume the phenomenon to arise from two or more causes, still each cause has its specific sphere in the causation ; in that sphere it acts as cause, and in that sphere it must be proscribed as an absurdity by the rule of the Dictum Necessitatis considered in a previous Article. Suppose then the mind to be cause of volition in part, what follows according to Dr. Edwards? That so far as it is cause at all, it is an absurdity. Did he intend to allow this?
(5.) This suggestion derives its plausibility from a misconception of terms. Dr. Edwards is ever ready to admit that the mind is an agent—that it acts, wills, chooses, determines, &c. These may be regarded as admissions of mental causality; but we have seen, that he intended to convey no such sentiment. All he meant was that the mind is the subject of the change or changes thus designated. Suppose we say that the mind is the cause of volition in some sense, the question is, in what sense ? In the sense that it wills, chooses, etc. Well, what is that sense ? It turns out to be nothing more than the fact, that the mind is a subject of volition, without being its cause. In all this we deceive ourselves in the use of terms; we predicate causality of the mind in precisely that sense in which there is
Cause in this sense is in reality no cause, and it was so understood by Dr. Edwards, for he maintained that it is the mind that wills, while he denied that it caused the willing. These phrases may do as flourishes of rhetoric, but as explained by Dr. Edwards they do not involve the supposition of mental causality in respect to volition.
(6.) Finally, the denial of all mental causality in the production of volitions, is a legitimate deduction from the system of necessity as stated and defended by Dr. Edwards. No man will pretend that the mind can be the cause of that which is made the chronological condition, the necessary antecedent of its being a cause of any thing. Such a pretension would imply, that it is a cause before it is a cause. Volition is made this necessary antecedent on the supposition of Edwards, that if the mind cause volition at all, it must be by the exercise of volition. By the supposition, it cannot in any sense be the cause of this prior volition, since it is the very thing which precedes the possibility of the mind causing any thing. The logic, if valid,
seals up the question; it does not leave the shadow of a shade of mental causation in the production of volition. Dr. Edwards was entirely true to his system in the bold denial of all such causation. He, who maintains for him mental causality in part, must allow one of three absurdities: either that volitions are caused by the mind in an infinite succession; or that it is a cause of that which is the chronological condition of its being a cause, i. e. is a cause before it is a cause; or that it is a cause in part of that which came into existence by some other cause, before mental causation was even a possibility. If those who institute this claim for Edwards will understand him, they will no longer be deceived by the terms activity, agency, willing, choosing, acting, etc. They involved no admission in any sense of the point in debatę.
It may be said again, that the question is not, who determines or wills, but why that which determines at all determines thus ruther than otherwise; and that, although the mind be a sufficient Ciluse of the existence of volition, it can never be a cause of the fact that volition is thus and not otherwise; and hence we must seek for a cause, which causes the mind to choose thus rather than otherwise. In the statement of this point, I have endeavored to give it all the importance which is attached to it by the advocates of necessity. I proceed to make it the subject of the following critical remarks:
(1.) If the suggestion have any relevancy to the point at issue, it must predicate, of the mind at least, some share of causality in the production of its volitions. If it does not accomplish this, it does not touch the question in debate, however much of truth it may contain. The question is, whether the Edwardean scheme admits the hypothesis that the mind causes its own volitions in any sense. To that question I have already replied in the negative, and supported the answer by an extended reference to the concessions of Dr. Edwards, as well as the structure of the system he advocates. This ground remains good, unless the above suggestion put in a plea of some mental causality, and that plea be traced to Edwards as its author.
(2.) Let us proceed, then, to interrogate both the Younger and the Elder Edwards on the question, whether they intended to admit that the mind causes its volitions in any sense whatever. In respect to the first mentioned writer, I have nothing to add to what has already been said. If he has not rejected the hypothesis, then language has no meaning. Let us then
If his oppo
recur, for a moment, to the language of President Edwards, and ascertain whether he admitted or denied the causality in question.
President Edwards, in his “Inquiry," joins issue with his opponents on the question, why the soul "exerts such an act, and not another; or why it acts with such a particular determination ?" He animadverts upon Dr. Clarke for proposing to answer this, but really answering another question, as he alleges. Now the “ why” of President Edwards is plainly an inquiry after a cause. The cause of what ?-Of the fact that the soul is in this specific state of volition rather than some other. He very fully grants that the mind acts, chooses, determines, etc., but this did not in his view touch the specific question which he had in his mind. To say that the mind is competent to originate action, choice, determination, etc., was an answer which was not at all satisfactory to the mind of Edwards: he still pressed the question, why it chooses thus' and not otherwise ; i. e. he demanded a cause for the specific choice. nent replied that the mind itself was a sufficient cause both of the existence and the particular direction of volition, Edwards was ready with an answer--that an agent can bring no effects to pass, but what are consequent upon his acting. Now this acting, willing, or determining, call it what you please, was the very thing to be accounted for, and for which he sought
To allow that this acting was an effect of the agent in any sense, either involved a prior acting in regard to which the same difficulty must arise; or it was a perfect contradiction of the philosophical canon just stated, which President Edwards had too much discrimination not to perceive. He did not admit the doctrine of an infinite series of volitions, causing each other, which he charges upon his opponents. How did he avoid it? By making the acting, the willing, which he speaks of as belonging to the agent, not an effect having the agent for its cause, but an effect of something else, of which the agent was the subject. Had he done otherwise, he must have been swallowed
in a vortex of his own creation. This is precisely the attitude of his philosophy, and it cuts up, root and branch, all possibility that the mind should ever cause one of its own volitions. And this is the very point before us—not what is true, but what did Edwards say, is true. As this point has become one of absorbing interest and keen discussion in our own age, the reader will allow me to verify these positions by an appeal to the author.