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He tells us, that “an active being can bring no effects to pass by his activity, but what are consequent upon his acting.” Part II. Sect. IV. Again: “So the mind being an active cause enables it to produce effects in consequence of its own acts; but cannot enable it to be the determining cause of all its own acts.” Ibid. The “acts” here spoken of are volitions. These being already in the mind, it can produce consequential effects; but how plainly he denies that the mind can cause these acts. This denial he is logically compelled to make, after assuming that a cause cannot cause but by prior causative acts. Again : “ So that the will does not determine itself in any one of its own acts; but every act of choice and refusal depends on, and is necessarily connected with, some antecedent cause; which cause is not the will itself, nor any act of its own, nor any thing pertaining to that faculty.” “And therefore the will is necessarily determined, in every one of its acts, from a man's first existence, by a cause beside the will, and a cause that does not proceed from, or depend on any act of the will at all.” Part II. Sect. IX. By determining he meant causing the volition to be this rather than that volition. By will he meant the inind as invested with a certain power called by this title. Here he plainly denies that the mind in possession of this power can contribute any thing to the causation of volition : this depends on something else. Again : “ So to suppose that there are acts of the soul by which a man voluntarily moves and acts upon objects, and produces effects, which yet themselves are effects of something else, and wherein the soul itself is the object of something actingłupon and influencing that, does not at all confound action and passion:"_" action may be the effect of some other cause besides the agent or being that acts.” Part IV. Sect. II. Now the “acts,” the volitions here spoken of, are the very things in question, for which a cause is sought. These “acts” are declared to be “effects of something else" besides the soul. If a man produces
effects” it is in consequence of these “ acts of the soul;" the “acts” are not effects of which he is the producer, but their sequents. By the very supposition the soul can contribute nothing in the causation of these “ acts," since it produces effects only in consequence of them; and hence Edwards very properly supposed that they must be " effects of something else.” What this “something else” was in the view of Edwards, may be learned from the following extract :-“But if every act of the will is excited
by a motive, then that motive is the cause of the act. If the acts of the will are excited by motives, then motives are the causes of their being excited; or, which is the same thing, the cause of their existence. And if so, the existence of the acts of the will is properly the effect of their motives.” Part II. Sect. X. To excite the volitions is the same as to cause them; and does he not distinctly indicate, that the “something else" of which volitions are effects, is motive? Does he not in motive cover the entire ground both of their existence and particular direction ? His system shuts him up to extrinsic causality as the only alternative. Hence not a passage can be found in his book which implies that the mind, in any sense, causes volition. In this respect he was perfectly consistent with himself.
President Day, in his “ Examination of Edwards on the Will," presents himself as the expounder and defender of Edwards. After explaining the use of the word cause, he observes: " In this sense of the word, neither external motives nor the agent are the sole cause of his volitions; but both together are truly the cause," p. 120. This he proposes as the Edwardean ground. I am very willing to grant that it may be the doctrine of President Day, but it does not correctly indicate the scheme of Edwards. It would have been gratifying to those who disagree with the commentator, had he produced his proof texts in support of his position. I hesitate not to say that they cannot be found in the “Inquiry" of Edwards. Passages in abundance might be cited, where it is granted that the mind chooses, acts, wills, etc.; but not one of these, by the very interpretation of Edwards, implies that the mind in the least degree causes the willing, the choosing, etc. Indeed, how could he have admitted this point ? It would have been the wreck of his whole scheme, the death-blow to his strongest ar. guments. If an agent must first act before it can produce an effect--if the effect and the acting be not identical--if the acting also be the effect, then to say that the acting is at all produced by the agent, is nonsense ;-we are carried out of and beyond the agent altogether, when searching for the cause of the acting. And bear in mind, that this is the very point,what causes the acting, the volition, and not its sequents. President Day was certainly mistaken when he said that motive and the agent “ both together are truly the cause :” this was not the ground of Edwards; it is nowhere asserted; it is not admissible in his scheme. To say that the mind has an active
nature, is to say, in consistency with his scheme, that the mind is capable of having what is called an act or volition wrought in it, but not by it—that it may be a subject of the change in question. If a man choose to designate this by the title of cause, I have only to say, that he entirely mistakes the idea of cause.
So far then as President Edwards is concerned, the plea in question does not leave the mind in possession of any causality in relation to volition—the only point I am now seeking to settle. In this respect Dr. Edwards most fully concurs with him. If any one shall enter his protest to this criticism, I have only one request to make; that he confine the protest strictly within the limits of the question.
(3.) I have not yet finished all I wish to say in relation to the above suggestion. I proceed therefore to observe, that it has in view a groundless distinction of questions. It assumes, that the question, what causes the existence of an event, is distinct from the question, why this particular event is caused ruther than some other; and that although the mind should be sufficient to cause the existence of volition, still it can be no cause of its specific direction, as being thus and not otherwise. Is this a valid distinction? What is the phenomenon in question? It is a volition. What is the nature of that phenomenon ? It is its nature to be fixed on, and directed to, some possible object of choice. It must be this, or that, or some object within the range of things possible to be chosen. This is essential to its very nature ; subjectively it may be viewed as a mere phenomenon ; objectively it must be directed to some object. Destroy the relation of an object to volition, and volition ceases to be a possibility. What is it for volition to have an object, but for it to be thus, or as it is, and not otherwise ? If it exist at all, it exists under this condition; remove the condition, and its existence becomes an absurdity. Can the mind, therefore, have any concern in causing a volition, without having an equal concern in fixing its direction? Can that which causes the existence of an event cause that event, without causing also whatever pertains to its very nature, and makes a part of the event itselt? The supposition is not possible from the very nature of the event itself. Whatever causes volition to be thus and not otherwise, causes it to be ; and whatever causes it to be, causes “the thus and not otherwise" of its being. The two things can never depend on separate causes, for they are in fact not two things, but two aspects of one thing. If you explain “ the thus
and not otherwise" of volition, by resorting to motive as its cause, you have finished the whole question of the cause. If you explain the “to be” of volition by referring it to the mind as its cause, you have equally finished the question. Whoever insists upon the distinction, must admit the absurdity of an abstract volition, that has no direction. Did Edwards, either the Elder or the Younger, assign to the mind any causality in the matter of “the thus and not otherwise" of volition ? This no inan will pretend. And if not; here again all causality is carried out of the mind.
The necessity that volition should be in some determinate direction decides not, whether the cause of it be necessitated to cause it to be thus and not otherwise. Here is a point where the advocates of necessity have sometimes committed a great mistake in the criticism of their opponents. The keen mind of Locke was at least a little incautious on this very point. He says, “ A man, that is walking, to whom it is proposed to give off walking, is not at liberty, whether he will determine himself to walk, or give off walking, or no. He must necessarily prefer one or the other of them, walking or not walking" Book II. Chap. XXI. Sect. XXIV. To say, that the mind must necessarily cause in some one of the possible directions of events, if it cause at all, is one thing; to say that it is necessitated to cause in this particular direction, is quite a different thing. A man sitting must necessarily remain sitting, or move; the necessity respects the alternative; it is not that he must necessarily remain sitting, or that he must necessarily move. The necessity that one or the other should be, is a very different thing from the necessity that he should do this one and not that one. In the one case it repects the alternative ; in the other it respects the agent. One is consistent with liberty, the other is destructive of it. Those who wish to see this point clearly presented, I refer to Whateley's Logic, p. 180-183. Let no one, therefore, suppose that the necessity that volition should have some specific direction, decides its cause to be also necessitated; the necessity grows out of the nature of volition, and determines nothing in respect to its cause.
(4.) Again, when the mind is spoken of as being caused to choose, or to choose as it does rather than otherwise, we are in danger of deception and mistake in the use of terms. President Day says, that the question with Edwards was, “ whether there is any thing which causes the man to will as he does ?” Dr. Ed
wards says, “ We see, hear, feel, love and hate, in the active voice ; yet we are, or may be, caused to see, hear, etc. And when we are caused to love or hate, we are indeed the subjects of the agency or influence of some cause extrinsic to our will, and so far are passive. Still the immediate effect of this agency is our act, and in this act we are certainly active," P. 319.Now these modes of expression carry with them an air of plausibility, which disappears upon a close and analytical inspection. They seem to imply that the mind as cause contributes somewhat to the existence of choice. What then is the analysis of being caused to choose?
One construction would be, that the mind is caused to cause the volition or choice. This would make two causes; the mind would be one, and something else would be the other; both causing together, whether simultaneously or successively, would constitute the causation of volition. The mind is the subject of the influence of a cause, and so far is passive ; upon that instant . it also causes, and is so far active. The supposition, I trust, is understood. Now is this the scheme of Edwards? It evidently is not. According to the reasoning of Edwards, mental causality in reference to the thing in question, would be an impossibility even upon this construction, since his fundamental position is, that an agent viewed as a cause, can cause nothing but what is consequent upon its acting, and therefore cannot be the cause of the acting. This reasoning turns not upon the supposition, whether the agent is caused to cause, or is not; it applies to the question, whether he causes at all? To place another cause before the causation of the agent, does not in the least degree relieve the difficulty. The great argument of Edwards must be given up, before the mind can be cause upon this hypothesis. If a cause causes another to cause, the first produces in the second some change; after which, and in consequence of which, the second produces some other change, but not the one which the first produces. What is the change produced by the first cause in the supposition before us? Volition. Where is it produced ? In the mind. What is the change produced by the second cause ? Some sequent of volition. What is the question? It is, whether the mind causes volition at all. How plainly the Edwardean system replies in the negative. President Day is right, when he says, “ present acts cannot, according to Edwards, be the effect of present agency.”..
The other construction of being caused to choose, is, that the