Sec 1-2: Liberty, Necessity

PART 3: THE WILL AND DIRECT PASSIONS

SEC 1: LIBERTY AND NECESSITY

  • The direct passions are the impressions arising immediately from good or evil, from pain or pleasure.
    • Of this kind are:
      • desire and aversion
      • grief and joy
      • hope and fear.

 

  • The most remarkable of the immediate effect of pain and pleasure is the WILL.
    • The will is not one of the passions.
    • Yet the full understanding of its nature and properties is necessary to explain the passions.
  • I mean ‘will’ as nothing but the internal impression we feel and are conscious of when we knowingly create any new:
    • motion of our body, or
    • perception of our mind.
  • Like pride and humility, love and hatred, it is impossible to define ‘will’.
    • We shall cut off all those complex definitions and distinctions made by philosophers.
    • We shall instead examine that long disputed question on liberty and necessity.
      • This occurs so naturally in treating of the will.

 

  • The operations of external bodies are necessary.
    • There are no traces of indifference or liberty in:
      • the communication of their motion
      • their attraction and mutual cohesion.
  • Every object is determined by an absolute fate to a certain degree and direction of its motion.
    • It can no more depart from its precise line of movement, than it can convert itself into an angel, spirit, or any superior substance.
  • Therefore, the actions of matter are instances of necessary actions.
    • Whatever is in this respect on the same footing with matter, must be acknowledged to be necessary.
  • We shall examine matter so that we may know:
    • whether this is the case with the mind’s actions.
    • why we conclude one body or action to be the infallible cause of another, considering the necessity of its operations.

 

  • The ultimate connection of any objects is discoverable by our senses or by reason in no single instance.
    • We can never penetrate so far into the essence and construction of bodies, as to perceive the principle of their mutual influence.
    • We are acquainted only with their constant union.
    • The necessity arises from the constant union.
  • If objects had no uniform and regular conjunction with each other, we would never arrive at any idea of cause and effect.
    • The necessity, which enters into the idea of cause and effect, is nothing but a determination of the mind to:
      • pass from one object to its usual attendant
      • infer the existence of one from that of the other.
  • Here are two considerations essential to necessity:
    • the constant union
    • the inference of the mind.
  • Wherever we discover these, we must acknowledge a necessity.
  • The actions of matter have no necessity, but what is derived from these circumstances.
  • We do not discover their connection by any insight into the essence of bodies.
    • The absence of this insight, while the union and inference remain, will never remove the necessity.
  • The observation of the union which produces the inference.
    • It might be sufficient to prove a constant union in the mind’s actions to establish the inference, along with their necessity.
  • I shall examine these particulars apart to give my reasoning more force.
    • I shall first prove that our actions have a constant union with our motives, tempers, and circumstances, before I consider our inferences from them.

 

  • A very general view of common human affairs will be sufficient to prove this.
  • Whether we consider mankind according to the difference of sexes, ages, governments, conditions, or educational methods, the same uniformity and regular operation of natural principles are discernible.
    • Like causes still produce like effects; in the same manner as in the mutual action of the elements and powers of nature.

 

  • There are different trees which regularly produce fruit, whose relish is different from each other.
    • This regularity is an instance of necessity and causes in external bodies.
  • But are the products of Guienne and of Champagne more regularly different than the sentiments, actions, and passions of man and woman?
    • Men are distinguished by their force and maturity.
    • Women are distinguished by their delicacy and softness.

 

  • Are the changes of our body from infancy to old age more regular and certain than those of our mind and conduct?
  • Would a man expecting a four-year old infant to lift a 300 pound weight, be more ridiculous than a man who expects an infant to look for a philosophical reasoning, or a prudent and well-concerted action?

 

  • The cohesion of the parts of matter arises from natural and necessary principles, whatever difficulty we may find in explaining them.
    • We must allow that:
      • human society is founded on like principles
      • our reason in the latter case is better than even that in the former.
        • Because we:
          • observe that men always seek society
          • can explain the principles of this universal propensity.
  • Is it more certain that two flat pieces of marble will unite together, than a young male and female savage will copulate?
    • Do the children from this copulation arise more uniformly, than the parents who care for their safety?
    • After they have grown up, are the inconveniencies in their separation from their parents more certain than their:
      • foresight of these inconveniencies
      • avoidance through a close union and confederacy?

 

  • The skin, pores, muscles, nerves, sentiments, actions and manners of a day-labourer are different from those of a man of quality.
    • The different stations of life influence the whole external and internal fabric.
    • Different stations arise necessarily and uniformly from the necessary and uniform principles of human nature.
  • Men cannot:
    • live without society
    • be associated without government.
      • Government makes a distinction of property.
        • It establishes the different ranks of men.
  • This produces industry, traffic, manufactures, law-suits, war, leagues, alliances, voyages, travels, cities, fleets, ports, and all those other actions and objects, which cause such a diversity.
    • It also maintains such an uniformity in human life.

 

  • Few people would believe a traveler telling us about a climate in the 50th degree of northern latitude where all the fruits:
    • ripen in the winter
    • decay in the summer, contrary to that of England
  • A traveler would  have little credit if he tells us of people exactly of the same with those in Plato’s republic or those in Hobbes’s Leviathan.
  • There is a general course of nature in:
    • human actions
    • the operations of the sun and climate.
  • There are also characters peculiar to different nations and persons, as well as common to mankind.
    • The knowledge of these characters is founded on the observation of an uniformity in their actions.
    • This uniformity forms the very essence of necessity.

 

  • The only way to elude this argument is to deny that uniformity of human actions on which it is founded.
    • As long as actions have a constant union and connection with the agent’s situation and temper, we really allow the thing. no matter bow we may refuse to acknowledge the necessity.
  • Some might find a pretext to deny this regular union and connection.
    • For what is more capricious than human actions?
    • What more inconstant than men’s desires?
    • What creature departs more widely from right reason and from his own character and disposition?
  • An hour, a moment is sufficient to:
    • make him change from one extreme to another
    • overturn what cost the greatest pain and labour to establish.
  • Necessity is regular and certain.
    • Human conduct is irregular and uncertain.
    • The one, therefore, proceeds not from the other.

 

  • I reply that in judging of the actions of men we must proceed on the same maxims, as when we reason concerning external objects.
  • When any phenomena are constantly and invariably conjoined together, they acquire such a connection in the imagination.
    • It passes from one to the other, without any doubt or hesitation.
  • But below this, there are many inferior degrees of evidence and probability.
    • One single contrariety of experiment does not entirely destroy all our reasoning.
  • The mind balances the contrary experiments.
    • It deducts the inferior from the superior and proceeds with the remaining assurance or evidence.
  • Even when these contrary experiments are entirely equal, we do not remove the notion of causes and necessity.
    • But supposing that the usual contrariety proceeds from the operation of contrary and concealed causes, we conclude that the chance or indifference lies only in our judgement from our imperfect knowledge.
    • It does not lie in the things themselves which are equally necessary in every case.
      • Though it appears not equally constant or certain.
  • No union can be more constant and certain than the union of some actions with some motives and characters.
    • If in other cases, the union is uncertain, it is no more than what happens in the operations of body.
    • We cannot conclude anything from the one irregularity, which will not follow equally from the other.

 

  • Mad-men have no liberty.
    • But if we judge their actions, these have less regularity and constancy than the actions of wise-men.
    • Consequently, they are farther removed from necessity.
  • Therefore, our way of thinking in this is absolutely inconsistent.
    • It is a natural consequence of these confused ideas and undefined terms which we commonly use in our reasonings, especially on the present subject.

 

  • The union between motives and actions has the same constancy as the union in any natural operations.
    • We must now show that its influence on the understanding is also the same in determining us to infer the existence of one from that of another.
  • If this appears, then there is no known circumstance that enters into the connection and production of the actions of matter, that is not to be found in all of the mind’s operations.
    • Consequently, we cannot attribute necessity to the one and refuse into the other.

 

  • No philosopher has a judgement so riveted to this fantastical system of liberty, to:
    • not acknowledge the force of moral evidence
    • not proceed on it both in speculation and practice, as on a reasonable foundation.
  • Now moral evidence is nothing but a conclusion concerning the actions of men, derived from the consideration of their motives, temper and situation.
    • Thus when we see certain characters or figures described on paper, we infer that the person who produced them would affirm such facts:
      • the death of Caesar
      • the success of Augustus
      • the cruelty of Nero.
  • Remembering many other concurrent testimonies. we conclude that:
    • those facts were once really existant
    • so many men without any interest would never conspire to deceive us, especially since they must expose themselves to the derision of all their contemporaries in the attempt, when these facts were asserted to be recent and universally known.
  • The same kind of reasoning runs through politics, war, commerce, economy.
    • It mixes itself so entirely in human life.
      • It is impossible to act or subsist a moment without having recourse to it.
  • A prince who imposes a tax on his subjects, expects their compliance.
    • A general who conducts an army, makes account of courage.
    • A merchant looks for fidelity and skill in his factor or super-cargo.
    • A man who orders his dinner, does not doubt the obedience of his servants.
  • In short, nothing more nearly interests us than our own actions and those of others.
    • Most of our reasonings is employed in judgements concerning them.
  • Whoever reasons after this manner, does ipso facto believe:
    • the actions of the will to arise from necessity
    • that he does not know what he means when he denies it.

 

  • All the objects we call the cause and effect are as distinct and separate from each other as any two things in nature,
    • We can never infer the existence of the  one from the existence of the other.
  • It is only from experience and the observation of their constant union that we are able to form this inference.
    • The inference is nothing but the effects of custom on the imagination.
  • We must not be content with saying that the idea of cause and effect arises from objects constantly united.
    • We must affirm that:
      • it is the very same with the idea of those objects
      • the necessary connection is not discovered by a conclusion of the understanding, but is merely a perception of the mind.
  • We have the idea of causes and necessity, whenever:
    • we observe the same union
    • the union operates in the same way on the belief and opinion.
      • Though perhaps we may avoid those expressions.
  • Motion in one body in all past instances that have fallen under our observation, is followed on impulse by motion in another.
    • It is impossible for the mind to penetrate further.
  • From this constant union, the mind forms the idea of cause and effect.
    • By its influence, the mind feels the necessity.
  • As there is the same constancy and influence in moral evidence, I ask no more.
    • What remains can only be a dispute of words.
  • When we consider how aptly natural and moral evidence cement together, and form only one chain of argument between them, we allow that they are:
    • of the same nature
    • derived from the same principles.
  • A prisoner, who has neither money nor interest, discovers the impossibility of his escape from both:
    • the obstinacy of the guard
    • the walls and bars surrounding him.
      • In his attempts for freedom, he chooses rather to work on the stone and iron than on the inflexible nature of the guard.
  • The same prisoner, when conducted to the scaffold, foresees his death both from:
    • the constancy and fidelity of his guards
    • the operation of the ax.
  • His mind runs along a train of ideas:
    • the soldiers’ refusal to let him escape
    • the executioner’s action
    • the separation of the head and body
      • bleeding, convulsive motions, and death.
  • But the mind feels no difference between this chain of natural causes and voluntary actions in passing from one link to another.
    • nor is it less certain of the future event than if it were connected with the present impressions of the memory and senses by a train of causes cemented together by a physical necessity.
  • The same experienced union has the same effect on the mind, whether the united objects are motives, volitions and actions; or figure and motion.
  • We may change the names of things.
    • But their nature and their operation on the understanding never change.
  • No one can ever refute these reasonings than by:
    • altering my definitions
    • assigning a different meaning to ’cause’, ‘effect’, ‘necessity’, ‘liberty’, and ‘chance’.
  • According to my definitions, necessity makes an essential part of causation; and consequently liberty, by removing necessity, removes also causes, and is the very same thing with chance.
  • Chance is commonly thought to imply a contradiction.
    • Chance is directly contrary to experience.
    • There are always the same arguments against liberty or free-will.
  • If any one alters the definitions, I cannot argue with him, until I know his own definitions.

SEC 2: THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUed

  • We may assign the three reasons for the prevalance of the doctrine of liberty, however absurd it may be in one sense, and unintelligible in any other.
  1. After we have performed any action, it is difficult for us to persuade ourselves that:
    • we were governed by necessity
    • it was utterly impossible for us to have acted otherwise.
      • The idea of necessity seems to imply something of force, violence, and constraint we are not sensible of.
      • Few are capable of distinguishing between:
        • the liberty of spontaniety and
          • This is the most common meaning of liberty.
          • Only this kind of liberty concerns us to preserve.
          • This is why our thoughts have:
            • been principally turned towards it
            • almost universally confounded it with the liberty of indifference.
        • the liberty of indifference.
          • This liberty is between the liberty opposed to violence and the liberty negating necessity and causes.

 

  1. There is a false sensation or experience even of the liberty of indifference.
    • This false experience is an argument for the real existence of this liberty.
    • The necessity of any mental or physical action, is not a quality in the agent.
      • It is a quality in any thinking being who considers the action.
      • This quality consists in the determination of his thought to infer its existence from some preceding objects.
    • Liberty or chance, on the other hand, is nothing but:
      • the lack of that determination
      • a certain looseness we feel in passing or not passing from the idea of one to that of the other.
    • In reflecting on human actions, we seldom feel such a looseness or indifference.
      • But we are commonly sensible of something like it in performing the actions themselves.
    • All related or resembling objects are readily taken for each other.
      • This has been employed as a demonstrative or even an intuitive proof of human liberty.
    • We feel that our actions are subject to our will on most occasions.
      • We imagine we feel that the will itself is subject to nothing.
      • Because when our actions are denied, we are provoked to try.
        • We feel that the will:
          • moves easily every way
          • produces an image of itself even on that side where it did not settle.
    • We persuade ourselves that this image or faint motion could have been completed into the thing itself.
    • Because, should that be denied, we find on a second trial, that it can.
    • But these efforts are all in vain.
    • Whatever capricious and irregular actions we may perform; as the desire of showing our liberty is the sole motive of our actions; we can never free ourselves from the bonds of necessity.
    • We may imagine we feel a liberty within ourselves.
    • But a spectator can commonly infer our actions from our motives and character.
    • Even when he cannot, he concludes that he might, if he were perfectly acquainted with:
    • our situation and temper
    • the most secret springs of our complexion and disposition.
    • According to the foregoing doctrine, this is the very essence of necessity.

 

  • A third reason why the doctrine of liberty has generally been better received in the world, than its antagonist, proceeds from religion.
    • Religion has been very unnecessarily interested in this question.
  • The most common and most blamable reasoning in philosophical debates is in refuting any hypothesis by a pretext of its dangerous consequences to religion and morality.
  • Any opinion that leads us into absurdities is certainly false.
    • But it is not certain that an opinion is false because it is of dangerous consequence.
  • Such topics, therefore, should entirely be foreborn, as serving nothing to the discovery of truth.
    • It only makes the antagonist odious.
  • I submit myself frankly to this kind of examination.
  • I affirm that my doctrine of necessity is innocent and even advantageous to religion and morality.

 

  • I define necessity in two ways, conforming to the two definitions of cause.
  • I place it either in:
    • the constant union and conjunction of like objects, or
    • the inference of the mind from the one to the other.
  • In both these senses, necessity universally, but tacitly, belongs to man’s will.
  • No one has ever denied that:
    • we can draw inferences on human actions
    • those inferences are founded on the experienced union of like actions with like motives and circumstances.
  • Only those who refuse to call this ‘necessity’ can differ from me.
    • But as long as the meaning is understood, I hope:
      • the word can do no harm, or
      • that he will maintain there is something else in the operations of matter.
    • Whether it is so or not is of no consequence to religion, whatever it may be to natural philosophy.
  • I may be mistaken in asserting that we have no idea of any other connection in the actions of body.
    • I shall be glad to be instructed further on that head.
    • But I am sure that I only ascribe what are readily allowed to the actions of the mind.
  • No one should put an invidious construction on my words, by saying that I:
    • assert the necessity of human actions
    • place them on the same footing with the operations of senseless matter.
  • I do not ascribe to the will that unintelligible necessity, which is supposed to lie in matter.
    • But I ascribe to matter, that intelligible quality, call it necessity or not, which the most rigorous orthodoxy must allow to belong to the will.
  • Therefore, I change nothing in the received systems with regard to the will, but only with regard to material objects.

 

  • I assert that this kind of necessity is so essential to religion and morality.
    • Without it:
      • there must ensue an absolute subversion of both
      • every other supposition is entirely destructive to all laws both divine and human.
  • All human laws are founded on rewards and punishments.
  • It is a fundamental principle that these motives have an influence on the mind.
  • Both produce the good and prevent the evil actions.
  • We may give to this influence what name we please.
  • But as it is usually conjoined with the action, common sense requires it should be:
    • esteemed a cause
    • booked on as an instance of that necessity, which I would establish.

 

  • This reasoning is equally solid when applied to divine laws, so far as the deity is:
    • considered as a legislator
    • supposed to inflict punishment and bestow rewards with a design to produce obedience.
  • Even when he acts not in his magisterial capacity, but is regarded as the avenger of crimes merely on account of their odiousness and deformity, it is impossible:
    • without the necessary connection of cause and effect in human actions, that punishments could be inflicted with justice and moral equity
    • that it could ever enter into the thoughts of any reasonable being to inflict them.
  • The constant and universal object of hatred or anger is a person or creature endowed with thought and consciousness.
    • When any criminal or injurious actions excite that passion, it is only by their relation to the person or connection with him.
  • But according to the doctrine of liberty or chance, this connection is reduced to nothing.
    • Men are not more accountable for premeditated actions, than for the most casual and accidental actions.
  • Actions are by their very nature temporary and perishing.
    • When they do not proceed from some cause in the characters and disposition of their performer, they do not:
      • infix themselves on him
      • redound to his honour if good, nor infamy, if evil.
  • The action itself may be blameable.
    • It may be contrary to all the rules of morality and religion.
  • But the person is not responsible for it.
  • It proceeded from nothing in him that is durable or constant.
  • It leaves nothing of that nature behind it, it is impossible he can become the object of punishment or vengeance.
  • According to the hypothesis of liberty, therefore, a man is as pure and untainted, after having committed the most horrid crimes, as at the first moment of his birth.
    • His character is not concerned in his actions in any way, since they are not derived from it.
    • The wickedness of the one can never be used as a proof of the depravity of the other.
  • A person acquires any merit or demerit from his actions, only on the principles of necessity, however the common opinion may be contrary.

 

  • Men are so inconsistent with themselves.
    • They often assert that necessity utterly destroys all merit and demerit towards mankind or superior powers.
    • But men continue to reason on these very principles of necessity in all their judgments on this matter.
  • Men are not blamed for such evil actions as they perform ignorantly and casually, whatever their consequences.
    • Why?
    • Because the causes of these actions:
      • are only momentary
      • terminate in them alone.
  • Men are less blamed for such evil actions, as they perform hastily and unpremeditately, than for such as proceed from thought and deliberation.
    • Why?
    • Because a hasty temper, though a constant cause in the mind:
      • operates only by intervals
      • does not infect the whole character.
  • Repentance wipes off every crime, especially if attended with an evident reformation of life and manners.
    • How is this to be accounted for?
    • By asserting that actions render a person criminal, merely as they are proofs of criminal passions or principles in the mind.
    • and when by any alteration of these principles they cease to be just proofs, they likewise cease to be criminal.
  • But according to the doctrine of liberty or chance, they never were just proofs.
    • Consequently, they were never criminal.

 

  • I turn to my adversary.
  • I want him to free his own system from these odious consequences before he charges them on others.
  • If he chooses that this question be decided by fair arguments before philosophers, than by declamations before the people, let him return to what I have advanced to prove:
    • that liberty and chance are synonymous
    • the nature of moral evidence
    • the regularity of human actions.
  • Upon a review of these reasonings, I will have an entire victory.
    • Having proved that all actions of the will have particular causes, I explain:
      • what these causes are
      • how they operate.

 


 

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