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by empirical perception, and reach the primitive type, the central nucleus of thought,—which logically constitutes the idea of Cause. Now suppose that this psychological process has been performed, and that we have found the essential element of this idea : then, we affirm, our success is twofold; we have made a discovery not merely subjective, as to what we feel, but also objective, as to what really is. If, for instance, the notion of Cause resolves itself at bottom into that of Unconditional Necessity, we must consider it as now known that all phenomena actually arise by necessity. If, on the other hand, the notion resolves itself into that of Alternative Power or Will, we must regard it as known, that intelligent purpose is the fundamental agency in the Universe. Either this knowledge has been won; or else nothing is known or knowable about causation at all; the subjective idea is good for this; or it is good for nothing. The coherent thinker may take his choice between the two : but Mr. Atkinson freely rambles from the one to the other, quite unconscious of self-contradiction. He adds up all the items he finds written in his sum, and puts down his triumphant aggregate, unaware that it makes a difference when half the terms are positive and half are negative. He repeatedly affirms the trustworthiness of our faculties, as sources of objective knowledge : "the Mind corresponds with the nature and principles of the world without, rising from the mere outward perception of things to the workings of principles and laws" (p. 193). Again, “to believe in a cause of the phenomena which we call Nature, and which constitutes the thinking man, seems essential to all reasoning beings” (p. 240). Nay, be tells us that there is an express provision in our nature for reverencing “the Infinite and abstract Power ;"'-a faculty which “conveys a sense of our dependence on the mysterious force and rule of nature of that which is beyond the experience of sense” (p. 79). Surely then, unless our very mind is mendaciously constituted, this Infinite Power is disclosed to us by this natural faith, just as Space and Time are “by appropriate faculties.” Yet in the very next sentence Mr. Atkinson declares that “All we know is phenomena, and “asserts plainly that of the motive power or principle of things we know absolutely nothing, and can know
nothing” (p. 240). What! is a belief which is essential to Reason no part of rational Knowledge? is that word to be given to the phenomena” cognisable by sense, and denied to the realities entrusted to Intellect? “ The further we advance from the Sense,” says our author, "the higher and more complete the truth” (p. 130). The truth" is therefore “most complete," where all “knowledge” is quite impossible! But, as causation is never phenomenal, our alleged ignorance about it, if admitted at all, must be admitted universally: of no causes can we know anything. Yet Mr. Atkinson finds, when convenient, that he can tell us something about them: “all causes," he has discovered, are material causes ;"-in which case, should
suppose, they must be accessible to perception and belong to the class of “phenomena," instead of lying "beyond sense impressions, and being subjective affairs. Nor does our author hesitate to assure us that all causes, not excluding the “fundamental," are necessary in their action. This is the second piece of information he communicates on a matter of which, as he elsewhere pronounces, we can know nothing at all. How he gets it, we nowhere learn : but as he must suppose himself able somehow to exclude freedom in favour of unqualified Necessity, and he condescends no further than to ridicule the former as "the extremest absurdity,” we conclude that, on consulting the idea of Causation, he fancies it to involve the notion of necessity, and without this to be unpresentable in thought. Indeed he elsewhere (Zoist. ii. p. 184) says, in his peculiar way, “Causation necessarily implies necessity.” If so, he falls back again on internal psychological ground, and re-accepts that subjective evidence of objective truth, which he treats with ever alternating embrace and repudiation. In this case, we think he carries the matter to the right court, but altogether mistakes the verdict : and we should not hesitate to maintain that the idea of Cause, in the last logical resort, so far from being identical with that of Necessity, totally excludes it; and instead of rendering liberty of choice inconceivable, is itself inconceivable without it.
This however introduces us to a great and solemn question, which it would be vain to discuss on the basis of a book like the present. A writer who can suppose the phrase "free will” to be as contradictory as the expression
incorporeal body" (p. 166); who can use the terms “free” and “by chance” (p. 141), without being aware of any difference; who can employ the words " Supreme lawless Will” (p. 219), as a definition of the Christian's God; who can say that for a being to have a nature at all is the same thing as to lie under adamantine necessity (p. 184); who can plead, in disproof of free-will, that "an idiot cannot make himself a Shakspere” (p. 133), and “a man cannot of himself, or by his will
, become a tree” (p. 7); betrays so wonderful a misapprehension of the elementary conditions of this problem, that no advantage can arise from interrupting the flow of his incompetent contempt. Indeed he himself has said the chief thing which we have to urge against his own doctrine: he has avowed that it contradicts our consciousness : but what of that? Mr. Atkinson knows better; and boldly charges consciousness with imposture, and the human race with "insanity.” We are quite content to leave the human race to settle the question with the author of “my idiot family.” But let us hear what is urged against the natural feeling of mankind :
They feel themselves in a measure free, and have been accustomed to the untrue and immoral doctrine of moral responsibility, and consider this sense of freedom and responsibility proof against mind being subject to law. In the same way they might say, being accustomed to wars, therefore war is right; that their great ancestors painted their skins and ate one another; and therefore to paint our skins and eat one another is right : that we have a sense that the sun goes round the earth, and therefore Galileo was wrong. feelings guide reason, instead of reason searching into the cause of our feelings, thus it has been.”—P. 242.
It is needless to say that nobody ever appealed in behalf of human responsibility to the customary belief, but only to the ineradicable natural consciousness, of personal freedom. Does our author intend to affirm that our moral faith is as much a transient accident of savage life as cannibal appetite and the painted skin? Or does he mean that, however uniformly and constantly that faith may arise from our reflective self-knowledge, it is of no more value as a witness to the truth, than the practices of cannibalism as an index to the right? Then, if he deposes
consciousness from its rights, to what tribunal can he possibly bring up a question like this for judgment ? The question is, 'Whether, when two competing principles of action solicit us, and a volition ensues, the Will, being passive, must yield itself to the stronger irrespective of its worth; or, being active, can determine on the worthier irrespective of its strength. As the impulses and the will are not accessible to perception,-can be neither seen, heard, nor smelt, --but only experienced in feeling, it is difficult to imagine how, but by subjective reflection, their mutual relations can be ascertained. To discredit this evidence is no less fatal to the case of the Necessarian, than to that of his opponent. If he would prove that the strongest motive prevails, surely he means, the motive that is most strongly felt; and in what way, if not by feeling, is this to be recognised ? Declare the feeling delusive, and what measure is there of the relative strength of a number of impulses? You can only appeal to the resulting action, and regard it as a practical indication that the impulse with which it accords was strongest: and so you fall into the vulgar fallacy, of assigning the motive's force as cause of the action, and then pleading the action in proof of the force. To repudiate the report of consciousness in a controversy about what happens on its theatre is to prepare yourself for experiments on colour by putting out your eyes.
No one, we should imagine, can be misled by the amusing plea, " that we have a sense that the sun goes round the earth.” We have nothing of the sort,—the motions of the heavenly bodies not being phenomena of our minds. An inference of this sort men have indeed drawn from certain visual perceptions; and this inference they have now relinquished; but the perceptions themselves, as felt, are no more contradicted by Copernicus than by Ptolemy; on the contrary, are assumed by them both as the indisputable data in us, from which the corresponding adjustments in outward nature are to be deduced. Indeed the whole mass of physical Science holds, as to the very sheetanchor of its logic, to the veracity of that consciousness which a modest philosophy is content with interpreting, but which incapable arrogance has often been forward to impugn. In the same strain, Mr. Atkinson elsewhere says: “Would that the mind was always in tune and all was sweetest melody, and radiant (?) harmony! But alas ! for the discord of the passions, and the discord of untruth, and the scraping on the instrument in self-considerations,—and the sounding brass and tinkling cymbal in our pride and vanities! We talk of free-will. From the instrument not recognizing its own harmonies, transitions and motions, we feel that we can will, but not what determines the can and the will. We do not see that the mind is a true republic, or that the Will, the President, the Executive power, is chosen by the people; that the Will which determines is itself determined. Will is the echo and act of the majority and strongest power : as clearly so as the weathercock points to the wind, and the ship follows the impress of the rudder and the sails, and is carried along by wind and tide. If it could think, it would imagine that it slid away by its own impulse and will, or undetermined force. The world would think itself free in its motion round the sun, until it discovered the laws of its motion, which determine its course to be precisely what it is,-a speck of dust whirling about and about, and filling its little place in the harmony of the universe. Will! the very idea is enough to make a Democritus fall on his back and roar with laughter, and a more serious thinker almost despair of bringing men to reason,—to experience the advantages of knowledge, and the calming influence of a recognition of universal law and necessity.”—P. 194.
“If the ship could think,” says our philosopher, “it would imagine that it slid away by its own impulse and will, or undetermined force.” What! whether it had an “own impulse and will,” or not? whether it felt itself capable of exerting "force” or not? This would be a strange result of its first experiment in " thinking." Nor is the second, it seems, destined to be more successful: for the new cogitative faculty has the peculiar property of keeping the good ship in entire unconsciousness of the pressure on it from wind and tide, and even of its own rudder and sails. Only endow it with intelligence and feeling : and it will be doomed to the double falsehood of believing nonentities within it, and denying realities without it! It is always easy enough to imagine beings endowed with mendacious faculties, and to say, if man were in such a plight, he would sink into the deeper error, the more he trusted to his natural beliefs. But it is plain that, were we in this condition, we could never find it out: the same illusory guidance which would mislead us