« PoprzedniaDalej »
et l'autre du moral. Dans un tourbillon necessity, if they admit that these two cirde poussière qu'éleve un vent impétueux, cumstances take place in voluntary action. quelque confus qu'il paraisse à nos yeux : Motive is to voluntary action in the human dans la plus affreuse tempête excitée par mind what cause is to effect in the material des vents opposés qui soulèvent les flots, universe. The word liberty, as applied to il n'y a pas une seule molécule de poussière mind, is analogous to the word chance as ou d'eau qui soit placée au hasard, qui applied to matter : they spring from an n'ait sa cause suffisante pour occuper le ignorance of the certainty of the conjunction lieu où elle se trouve, et qui n'agisse of antecedents and consequents. rigoureusement de la manière dont elle | Every human being is irresistibly impelled doit agir. Une géomètre qui connoitrait to act precisely as he does act: in the eterexactement les différentes forces qui agis-nity which preceded his birth a chain of sent dans ces deux cas, et les propriétés causes was generated, which, operating des molécules qui sont mues, démontrerait under the name of motives, make it imque d'après des causes données, chaque possible that any thought of his mind, or molécule agit précisément comme elle doit any action of his life, should be otherwise agir, et ne peut agir autrement qu'elle ne than it is. Were the doctrine of Necessity fait.
false, the human mind would no longer be Dans les convulsions terribles qui agitenta legitimate object of science ; from like quelquefois les sociétés politiques, et qui causes it would be in vain that we should produisent souvent le renversement d'un expect like effects; the strongest motive empire, il n'y a pas une seule action, une would no longer be paramount over the seule parole, une seule pensée, une seule conduct ; all knowledge would be vague volonté, une seule passion dans les agens qui and undeterminate ; we could not predict concourent à la révolution comme destruc- with any certainty that we might not meet teurs ou comme victimes, qui ne soit néces- as an enemy to-morrow him with whom saire, qui n'agisse comme elle doit agir, qui we have parted in friendship to-night ; the n'opère infalliblement les effets qu'elle doit most probable inducements and the clearest opérer, suivant la place qu'occupent ces reasonings would lose the invariable inagens dans ce tourbillon moral. Cela parai-fluence they possess. The contrary of trait évident pour une intelligence qui sera this is demonstrably the fact. Similar ciren état de saisir et d'apprécier toutes les cumstances produce the same unvariable actions et réactions des esprits et des corps effects. The precise character and motives de ceux qui contribuent à cette révolution." of any man on any occasion being given, -Système de la Nature, vol. i. p. 44. the moral philosopher could predict his
actions with as much certainty as the VI.-PAGE 24.
natural philosopher could predict the effects
of the mixture of any particular chemical Necessity! thou mother of the world!
substances. Why is the aged husbandHe who asserts the doctrine of Necessity man more experienced than the young bemeans that, contemplating the events which ginner? Because there is a uniform, uncompose the moral and material universe, deniable necessity in the operations of the he beholds only an immense and uninter material universe. Why is the old statesrupted chain of causes and effects, no one man more skilful than the raw politician? of which could occupy any other place than | Because, relying on the necessary conjuncit does occupy, or act in any other place tion of motive and action, he proceeds to than it does act. The idea of necessity is | produce moral effects, by the application obtained by our experience of the connec of those moral causes which experience tion between objects, the uniformity of the has shown to be effectual. Some actions operations of nature, the constant conjunc may be found to which we can attach no tion of similar events, and the consequent motives, but these are the effects of causes inference of one from the other. Mankind with which we are unacquainted. Hence are therefore agreed in the admission of the relation which motive bears to volun.
tary action is that of cause to effect; nor, plies with equal force to the loadstone 25 placed in this point of view, is it, or ever to the human will. Do you think these has it been, the subject of popular or philo- motives, which I shall present, are powa. sophical dispute. None but the few fana- ful enough to rouse him? is a question tics who are engaged in the herculean task just as common as, Do you think this levo of reconciling the justice of their God with has the power of raising this weight? The the misery of man, will longer outrage advocates of free-will assert that the will common sense by the supposition of an has the power of refusing to be deternnned event without a cause, a voluntary action by the strongest motive: but the strongest without a motive. History, politics, morals, motive is that which, overcoming all others, criticism, all grounds of reasonings, all ultimately prevails; this assertion therefore principles of science, alike assume the truth amounts to a denial of the will being ultiof the doctrine of Necessity. No farmer mately determined by that motive which carrying his corn to market doubts the does determine it. which is absurd. Bat sale of it at the market price. The master it is equally certain that a man cannot reof a manufactory no more doubts that he sist the strongest motive as that he can. can purchase the human labour necessary not overcome a physical impossibility. for his purposes than that his machinery The doctrine of Necessity tends to inwill act as they have been accustomed to troduce a great change into the establisbad
notions of morality, and utterly to destroy But, whilst none have scrupled to admit religion. Reward and punishment must necessity as influencing matter, many have be considered, by the Necessarian, merely disputed its dominion over mind. Inde- as motives which he would employ in onder pendently of its militating with the received to procure the adoption or abandonment ideas of the justice of God, it is by no of any given line of conduct. Desert, in means obvious to a superficial inquiry. the present sense of the word, would no When the mind observes its own operations, longer have any meaning: and be who it feels no connection of motive and action: should inflict pain upon another for no but as we know"nothing more of causation better reason than that he deserved it. than the constant conjunction of objects would only gratify his revenge under preand the consequent inference of one from tence of satisfying justice. It is not the other, as we find that these two cir- enough, says the advocate of free-will, cumstances are universally allowed to have that a criminal should be prevented from place in voluntary action, we may be easily a repetition of his crime : he should fed led to own that they are subjected to the pain, and his torments, when justly in. necessity common to all causes." The flicted, ought precisely to be proportioned actions of the will have a regular conjunc- to his fault. But utility is morality: that tion with circumstances and characters; which is incapable of producing happiness motive is to voluntary action what cause is useless; and though the crime of is to effect. But the only idea we can Damiens must be condemned, yet the form of causation is a constant conjunction frightful torments which revenge, under of similar objects, and the consequent in the name of justice, inflicted on this unference of one from the other; wherever happy man cannot be supposed to have this is the case necessity is clearly estab- augmented, even at the long run, the lished.
stock of pleasurable sensation in the world. The idea of liberty, applied metaphori- At the same time, the doctrine of Necescally to the will, has sprung from a mis-sity does not in the least dininish our conception of the meaning of the word disapprobation of vice. The conviction power. What is power?-id quod potest, which all feel that a viper is a poisonous that which can produce any given effect. animal, and that a tiger is constrained, by To deny power is to say that nothing can the inevitable condition of his existence, or has the power to be or act. In the to devour men, does not induce us to only true sense of the word power, it ap- avoid them less sedulously, or, even more, to hesitate in destroying them : but he being, he is also subjected to the dominion would surely be of a hard heart who, of an immutable necessity. It is plain meeting with a serpent on a desert island, that the same arguments which prove that or in a situation where it was incapable of God is the author of food, light, and life. injury, should wantonly deprive it of exist-prove him also to be the author of poison, ence. A Necessarian is inconsequent to darkness, and death. The wide-wasting his own principles if he indulges in hatred earthquake, the storm, the battle, and the or contempt; the compassion which he tyranny, are attributable to this hypothetic feels for the criminal is unmixed with a being in the same degree as the fairest desire of injuring him : he looks with an | forms of nature, sunshine, liberty, and elevated and dreadless composure upon peace. the links of the universal chain as they But we are taught, by the doctrine of pass before his eyes; whilst cowardice, Necessity, that there is neither good nor curiosity, and inconsistency only assail evil in the universe, otherwise than as the him in proportion to the feebleness and events to which we apply these epithets indistinctness with which he has perceived | have relation to our own peculiar mode of and rejected the delusions of free-will. being. Still less than with the hypothesis
Religion is the perception of the relation of a God will the doctrine of Necessity in which we stand to the principle of the accord with the belief of a future state of universe. But if the principle of the uni- punishment. God made man such as he verse be not an organic being, the model is, and then damned him for being so : and prototype of man, the relation between for to say that God was the author of all it and human beings is absolutely none. good, and man the author of all evil, is to Without some insight into its will respect say that one man made a straight line and ing our actions religion is nugatory and a crooked one, and another man made the vain. But will is only a mode of animal incongruity. mind; moral qualities also are such as A Mahometan story, much to the present only a human being can possess; to attri- | purpose, is recorded, wherein Adam and bute them to the principle of the universe Moses are introduced disputing before is to annex to it properties incompatible God in the following manner. Thou, with any possible definition of its nature. says Moses, art Adam, whom God created, It is probable that the word God was and animated with the breath of life, and originally only an expression denoting the caused to be worshipped by the angels, unknown cause of the known events which and placed in Paradise, from whence men perceived in the universe. By the mankind have been expelled for thy fault. vulgar mistake of a metaphor for a real Whereto Adam answered, Thou art Moses, being, of a word for a thing, it became a whom God chose for his apostle, and enman, endowed with human qualities and trusted with his word, by giving thee the governing the universe as an earthly mon tables of the law, and whom he vouchsafed arch governs his kingdom. Their addresses to admit to discourse with himself. How to this imaginary being, indeed, are much many years dost thou find the law was in the same style as those of subjects to a written before I was created ? Says Moses, king. They acknowledge his benevolence, Forty. And dost thou not find, replied deprecate his anger, and supplicate his Adam, these words therein, And Adam favour.
rebelled against his Lord and transgressed? But the doctrine of Necessity teaches us Which Moses confessing, Dost thou therethat in no case could any event have hap- fore blame me, continued he, for doing pened otherwise than it did happen, and that which God wrote of me that I should that, if God is the author of good, he is do, forty years before I was created, nay, also the author of evil ; that, if he is en- for what was decreed concerning me fifty titled to our gratitude for the one, he is thousand years before the creation of entitled to our hatred for the other ; that, heaven and earth ?-Sale's Prelim. Disc, admitting the existence of this hypothetic to the Koran, p. 164.
VII. —PAGE 25.
dresses itself to the former one, occupies
the lowest degree. There is no God !
(A graduated scale, on which should be This negation must be understood solely marked the capabilities of propositions to to affect a creative Deity. The hypothesis approach to the test of the senses, would of a pervading Spirit coeternal with the be a just barometer of the belief which universe remains unshaken.
ought to be attached to them.) A close examination of the validity of Consequently no testimony can be adthe proofs adduced to support any pro. | mitted which is contrary to reason ; reason position is the only secure way of attain-is founded on the evidence of our senses. ing truth, on the advantages of which it is Every proof may be referred to one of unnecessary to descant : our knowledge of these three divisions: it is to be considered the existence of a Deity is a subject of such what arguments we receive from each of importance that it cannot be too minutely
not be too minutely them, which should convince us of the investigated ; in consequence of this con existence of a Deity, viction we proceed briefly and impartially ist, The evidence of the senses. If to examine the proofs which have been the Deity should appear to us, if he should adduced. It is necessary first to consider convince our senses of his existence, this the nature of belief.
revelation would necessarily command When a proposition is offered to the belief. Those to whom the Deity has thus mind, it perceives the agreement or disa- appeared have the strongest possible congreement of the ideas of which it is com- | viction of his existence. But the God of posed. A perception of their agreement is Theologians is incapable of local visibility. termed belief. Many obstacles frequently 2d, Reason. It is urged that man prevent this perception from being im- | knows that whatever is must either have mediate ; these the mind attempts to had a beginning, or have existed from all remove in order that the perception may eternity: he also knows that whatever is be distinct. The mind is active in the not eternal must have had a cause. investigation in order to perfect the state When this reasoning is applied to the of perception of the relation which the universe, it is necessary to prove that it component ideas of the proposition bear was created : until that is clearly demonto each, which is passive : the investigation strated we may reasonably suppose that being confused with the perception has it has endured from all eternity. We induced many falsely to imagine that the must prove design before we can infer a mind is active in belief,--that belief is an designer. The only idea which we can act of volition,-in consequence of which form of causation is derivable from the it may be regulated by the mind. Pur. constant conjunction of objects, and the suing, continuing this mistake, they have consequent inference of one from the other. attached a degree of criminality to disbelief: In a case where two propositions are of which, in its nature, it is incapable: it diametrically opposite, the mind believes is equally incapable of merit.
that which is least incomprehensible ;-it Belief, then, is a passion, the strength is easier to suppose that the universe has of which, like every other passion, is in existed from all eternity than to conceive precise proportion to the degrees of ex-a being beyond its limits capable of citement.
creating it: if the mind sinks beneath the The degrees of excitement are three. weight of one, is it an alleviation to in
The senses are the sources of all know.crease the intolerability of the burthen? ledge to the mind; consequently their | The other argument, which is founded evidence claims the strongest assent, on a man's knowledge of his own existence,
The decision of the mind, founded upon stands thus. A man knows not only that our own experience, derived from these | he now is, but that once he was not: sources, claims the next degree.
consequently there must have been a cause, The experience of others, which ad. But our idea of causation is alone derivable from the constant conjunction of objects God is an hypothesis, and, as such, and the consequent inference of one from stands in need of proof : the onus probandi the other; and, reasoning experimentally, rests on the theist. Sir Isaac Newton we can only infer from effects causes says : Hypotheses non fingo, quicquid enim exactly adequate to those effects. But ex phænomenis non deducitur hypothesis there certainly is a generative power which vocanda est, et hypothesis vel metaphysicæ, is effected by certain instruments : we vel physice, vel qualitatum occultarum, cannot prove that it is inherent in these seu mechanicæ, in philosophiâ locum non instruments; nor is the contrary hypo- habent. To all proofs of the existence of thesis capable of demonstration : we admit a creative God apply this valuable rule. that the generative power is incomprehen. We see a variety of bodies possessing a sible ; but to suppose that the same effect variety of powers : we merely know their is produced by an eternal, omniscient, effects; we are in a state of ignorance omnipotent being leaves the cause in the with respect to their essences and causes. same obscurity, but renders it more in These Newton calls the phenomena of comprehensible.
things; but the pride of philosophy is 3d, Testimony. It is required that unwilling to admit its ignorance of their testimony should not be contrary to reason. causes. From the phenomena, which are The testimony that the Deity convinces the | the objects of our senses, we attempt to senses of men of his existence can only be infer a cause, which we call God, and admitted by us if our mind considers it gratuitously endow it with all negative less probable that these men should have and contradictory qualities. From this been deceived than that the Deity should hypothesis we invent this general name, have appeared to them. Our reason can to conceal our ignorance of causes and never admit the testimony of men, who essences. The being called God by no not only declare that they were eye-wit means answers with the conditions prenesses of miracles, but that the Deity was scribed by Newton ; it bears every mark irrational ; for he commanded that he I of a veil woven by philosophical conceit, should be believed, he proposed the highest to hide the ignorance of philosophers even rewards for faith, eternal punishments for from themselves. They borrow the threads disbelief. We can only command volun- of its texture from the anthropomorphism tary actions ; belief is not an act of of the vulgar. Words have been used by volition ; the mind is even passive, or in-sophists for the same purposes, from the voluntarily active; from this it is evident occult qualities of the peripatetics to the that we have no sufficient testimony, or effluvium of Boyle and the crinities or rather that testimony is insufficient to nebule of Herschel. God is represented prove the being of a God. It has been as infinite, eternal, incomprehensible ; he before shown that it cannot be deduced is contained under every predicate in non from reason. They alone, then, who have that the logic of ignorance could fabricate. been convinced by the evidence of the | Even bis worshippers allow that it is imsenses can believe it.
possible to form any idea of him : they Hence it is evident that, having no exclaim with the French poet, proofs from either of the three sources of
Pour dire ce qu'il est, il faut être lui-même. conviction, the mind cannot believe the existence of a creative God: it is also Lord Bacon says that atheism leaves evident that, as belief is a passion of the to man reason, philosophy, natural piety, mind, no degree of criminality is attach laws, reputation, and everything that can able to disbelief ; and that they only are | serve to conduct him to virtue ; but superreprehensible who neglect to remove the stition destroys all these, and erects itself falsc medium through which their mind | into a tyranny over the understandings of views any subject of discussion. Every | men: hence atheism never disturbs the reflecting mind must acknowledge that government, but renders man more clearthere is no proof of the existence of a Deity. sighted, since he sees nothing beyond the