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CHAPTER VII.

VOLITION.

“Les hommes se trompent en ce point qu'ils pensent être libres. Or, en quoi consiste une telle opinion? En cela sculement, qu'ils ont conscience de leurs actions et ignorent les causes qui les déterminent. L'idée que les hommes se fout de leur liberté vient donc de ce qu'ils ne connaissent point la cause de leurs actions, car dire qu'elles dépendent de la volonté, ce sont là des mots auxquels on d'attache aucune idée. Quelle est en effet la nature de la volonté, et comment meut-elle le corps, c'est ce que tout le monde ignore, et ceux qui élèvent d'autres prétentions et parlent des sièges de l'âme et de ses domeures prêtent à rire ou font pitié."-Spixoza.

“En tout ce que je puis dire à ceux qui croient qu'ils peuvent parler, se taire, en un inot, agir en vertu d'une libre décision de l'âme, c'est qu'ils révent les yeux ouverts.”Ibid.

IT
T is strange to see how some, who confidently base their

argument for the existence of a God on the ground that everything in nature must have a cause, are content, in their zeal for free-will, to speak of the will as if it were self-determined and had no cause. As thus vulgarly used, the term Will has no definite incaning, and certainly is not applicable to any concrete reality in nature, where, in the matter of will, as in every other matter, we perceive effect witnessing to cause, and varying according as the cause varies.

Previous considerations must have sufficiently proved the necessity of modifying the notion commonly entertained of the will as a single, undecomposable faculty of constant and uniform power; for they liave shown that under the category of voluntary acts, as commonly made, are included very different kinds of actions, proceeding from different nervous centres. A consideralle proportion of the daily actions of life is confessedly due to the automatic faculty of the spinal cord; the sensory centres are clearly the independent causes of other actions ; while many of the remaining actions that would by most people be deemed

volitional, are really respondent to an idea or emotion. This just discrimination is, notwithstanding, entirely neglected by those who take the metaphysical view of will ; by them, as usual, an abstraction from the particular is converted into au entity, and thenceforth allowed to tyrannize in the most despotic manner over the understanding. The metaphysical essence thus created has no other relation to a particular or concrete act of will, than, using Spinoza's illustration, stoneness to a particular stone, inan to Peter or Paul.

Lt is obviously, then, of importance, in the first place, to get rid of the notion of an ideal or abstract will unaffected by physical conditions, as existing apart from a particular concrete act of will, which varies according to physical conditions. When a definite act of will is the result of a certain reflection, it represents physically an available or a liberated force, consequent on the communication of activity from one cell or group of cells to other cells or groups of cells within the cortical layers of the hemispheres. Any modification, therefore, of the condition of these centres may, and notably does, impede reflection, and affect the resultant power of will—a power which, in reality, is seen to differ both in quantity and quality in different persons, and in the same person, according to the varying conditions of the nervous substratum. On the other hand, speaking psychologically, the definite will is the final issue of the process of reflection or deliberation which a mau's life-culture has rendered him capable of; it represents a conception of the result with desire, such as have been determined by the character of the reflection. A man can never will a virtuous and into whose retlection ideas of virtue do not enter, nor can any one will a bestial act of vice, whose appetites or desires have not been vitiated, and whose mind is not familiar with lowd ideas. The will appears, then, to le nothing but the desire, or aversion, sufficiently strong to produce an action after reflection or deliberation-an action that, as Hartley observes, is not automatic primarily or secondarily.* (") since, then, it is generated by the preceding

. “Appetite, therefore, and aversion are simply so called as lon, as they follow not deliberation. But it deliberation have gone before, then the last act of it, if it be appetite, is called rill; if aversion, unwillingness."—HOBBES.

"lo i series of valu.. i le articles on the Nature of Polilion, in the Psychulo.

association, it must needs differ greatly in quality and quantity, according to the extent and character of the association, as this has been established by cultivation, or is temporarily modified by bodily conditions. Every one can easily perceive this to be true of the will of an idiot or a child, which is palpably a very different matter from that of a well-cultivated adult; and he must be very much blinded by metaphysical conceptions, who fails to recognise the infinite variations in the power of will which any given individual exhibits at different times or in different relations. When one of the higher senses is wanting in any one, he necessarily wants also the ideas, feelings, desires, and will, which arise out of the perceptions of this sense. The blind man cannot know the variety and beauty of colouring in nature, nor can he will in regard to those external relations which are revealed only through the sense of sight. Because, however, he knows not what he lacks, he does not consider his will inferior in quality, less complete, or less free. Were an additional sense conferred upon any one, it would doubtless soon teach him how much might yet be added to the will, how little his boasted freedom is, and might, perhaps, make him wonder much that he should ever have thought himself free.

When is it that man is most persuaded that he speaks or acts with full freedom of will ? When he is drunk, or mad, or is dreaming. It may be a reflection, then, worth dwelling upon, that man thinks himself most free when he is most a slave ; but at any moment, in whatever mood he be, he would affirm that he is free. A person when under the influence of drink judges very differently from what he does in his sober senses, but is he in his own estimation less free at the time? Passion notoriously perverts the judgment, warping it this way or that; but will any appeal to the man who is in a passion elicit

gical Journal for 1863, Mr. Lockhart ('larke enters into an ablc analysis of thim different forms of rolition, and shown that in each case the process consists in the co-operation of two of the psychical elements which together constitute our personal integrity ; nainely the intellectual or regulative element, and the esthetic or dynamic element, the later being either a sensation, an appetite, or einotion. What are called “motives" to the “ will " consist of our various sensations, appetites, and emotions, when subjected to the judgment of the understanding in deliberation. The "will," therefore, as a peculiar power, corurg into existence only at the time of actions, by the combination and co-operation of its constituent elements.

from him a confession that he is not acting with perfect liberty? Place the very same arguments before a man when he is elated by some joyous, or depressed by some grievous event; when he is in the full flow of vigorous health, or when he is prostrate on the bed of sickness, or of death, and how different would be his judgment upon them: but whatever others may think of him, he will hold for certain the conclusion of the moment, just as a inan in his sleep is fully persuaded of the reality of his dreams. While the looker-on can often predict how a madman will act under certain circumstances, with as much certainty as he can predict an event conformable to al known law of nature,—who thinks himself so free as does the madman? Whence comes this false opinion? It arises plainly from this: that consciousness reveals the particular state of mind of the moment, but does not reveal the long series of causes on which it depends. It is a deliberate fooling of one's self to say that actions depend upon the will, and then not to ask upon what the will depends ! It is as though, says Leibnitz, the needle should take pleasure in moving towards the pole, not perceiving the insensible motions of the magnetic matter on which it depends. As in nature we pass from event to cause, and from this cause again to an antere lent one, and so on till we are driven to a great first cause, so, in the sincere oliservation of the mind, we see that it is determined to will this or that ly a cause or unotive, which again is determined by another, this again by another, and so on till we have gone through the whole series of desires, aversions, hopes, and fears-the sum of which is deliberation that have preceded the last appetite or aversion, which we call an act of will. Those who fondly think they act with free will, says Spinoza, dream with their eyes open.

Now, if the final reaction after deliberation, which we call will, is, like other modes of reaction of nerve element previously described, a resultant of a cert..in molecular change in a definitely constituted nervous centre, then all the design exhibited in any given act of will must, like the design displayed in the functions of the spinal cells, or the cells of the sensory centres, le a physical result of a particular and intimate constitution or organiza tion of nervous matter. In other words, the art of will whicle is the final expression of a process of reflection must needs

contain a conception of the end desired—such a conception as has been determined by the nature of the reflection ; the conception of the result, or the design, in the act of will constituting, in fact, the essential character of the particular volition. In order that desire may become action for its gratification, a consciousness of the result of the action is necessary—that is, a conception of the aim of it. The desire, therefore, gives the special impulse which is directed or regulated by reflection, and the particular act of will is not the determining agent, but is the result determined by the impulse acting in conformity with the conception of the aim to be attained. The design, then, which a lookeron discovers in any act of will — and, be it remembered, there is no actual volition apart from the particular volition-will depend upon the nature of the individual whom he is observing, as that nature has been inherited, and subsequently developed by the experience of life. The idiocy of any one, or his congenital inability to adapt himself to external relations by correspondences of iuternal cerebral reaction, is a physical fact: there is no design in many of the idiot's conscious acts, because such quality or property has not been built up by cultivation as a faculty of the supreine nervous centres, a congenital defect of constitution having made such organization impossible ; in other words, the idiot is, by defect of nature, incapacitated from acquiring reflection, and cannot, therefore, have in his mind the conception of a result to be attained, cannot display conscious design. But the design manifest in any voluntary act of the best cultivated mind is likewise physical necessity: in consequence of reacting cerebral adaptations to the varieties of external impressions, reflection has, as already set forth, been organized as a development of the supreme nervous centres, or, in other words, as a faculty of the mind; and according to the extent and kind of the reflection will be the completeness of the conception of the end to be attained, or the degree of design discoverable in any act of will. The particular volition and whatever it contains, whether of folls or design, is a product of the organized residua of all foriner like volitions, excited into activity by the appropriate stimulus. For volitions, like sensations and ideas, leave behind them their residua which are organized in the nerve centres, and thus render future volitions of a like kind more easy.

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