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he is not at liberty; that agent is under necessity. So that liberty cannot be where there is no thought, no volition, no will; but there may be thought, there may be will, there may be volition, where there is no liberty. A little consideration of an obvious instance or two may make this clear.
8 9. A tennis-ball, whether in motion Supposes the by the stroke of a racket, or lying still at understandrest, is not by, any one taken to be a free ing and will. agent. If we inquire into the reason, we shall find it is because we conceive not a tennis-ball to think, and consequently not to have any volition, or preference of motion to rest, or vice versa; and therefore has not liberty, is not a free agent; but all its both motion and rest come under our idea of necessary, and are so called. Likewise a man falling into the water (a bridge breaking under him) has not herein liberty, is not a free agent. For though he has volition, though he prefers his not falling to falling, yet the forbearance of that motion not being in his power, the stop or cessation of that motion follows not upon his volition; and therefore therein he is not free. So a man striking himself, or his friend, by a convulsive motion of his arm, which it is not in his power, by volition or the direction of his mind, to stop, or forbear, nobody thinks he has in this liberty ; every one pities him, as acting by necessity and constraint.
S 10. Again, suppose a man be carried, Belongs not whilst fast asleep, into a room, where is a to volition. person he longs to see and speak with, and be there locked fast in, beyond his power to get out, he awakes, and is glad to find himself in so desirable company, which he stays willingly in, i. e. prefers his stay to going away; I ask, Is not this stay voluntary ? I think nobody will doubt it; and yet, being locked fast in, it is evident he is not at liberty not to stay, he has not freedom to be gone. So that liberty is not an idea belonging to volition, or preferring; but to the person having the power of doing, or forbearing to do, accord
ing as the mind shall choose or direct. Our idea of liberty reaches as far as that power, and no farther. For wherever restraint comes to check that power, or compulsion takes away that indifferency of ability on either side to act, or to forbear acting, there liberty, and our notion of it, presently ceases. Voluntary § 11. We have instances enough, and opposed to often more than enough, in our own involuntary, bodies. A man's heart beats, and the
len blood circulates, which it is not in his cessary.
power by any thought or volition to stop; and therefore in respect of these motions, where rest depends not on his choice, nor would follow the determination of his mind, if it should prefer it, he is not a free agent. Convulsive motions agitate his legs, so that, though he wills it ever so much, he cannot by any power of his mind stop their motion (as in that odd disease called chorea sancti viti), but he is perpetually dancing: he is not at liberty in this action, but under as much necessity of moving as a stone that falls, or a tennis-ball struck with a racket. On the other side, a palsy or the stocks hinder his legs from obeying the determination of his mind, if it would thereby transfer his body to another place. In all these there is want of freedom; though the sitting still even of a paralytic, whilst he prefers it to a removal, is truly voluntary. Voluntary then is not opposed to necessary, but to involuntary. For a man may prefer what he can do to what he cannot do, the state he is in to its absence or change, though necessity has made it in itself unalterable. Liberty,
12. As it is in the motions of the body, what. so it is in the thoughts of our minds : where any one is such that we have power to take it up, or lay it by, according to the preference of the mind, there we are at liberty. A waking man being under the necessity of having some ideas constantly in his mind, is not at liberty to think or not to think, no more than he is at liberty whether his body shall touch any other or no; but whether he will remove his contemplation from one idea to another is many times in his choice; and then he is in respect of his ideas as much at liberty as he is in respect of bodies he rests on : he can at pleasure remove himself from one to another. But yet some ideas to the mind, like some motions to the body, are such as in certain circumstances it cannot avoid, nor obtain their absence by the utmost effort it can use. A man on the rack is not at liberty to lay by the idea of pain, and divert himself with other contemplations : and sometimes a boisterous passion hurries our thoughts as a hurricane does our bodies, without leaving us the liberty of thinking on other things, which we would rather choose. But as soon as the mind regains the power to stop or continue, begin or forbear, any of these motions of the body without, or thoughts within, according as it thinks fit to prefer either to the other, we then consider the man as a free agent again. · § 13. Wherever thought is wholly want. Necessity, ing, or the power to act or forbear accord- what. ing to the direction of thought; there necessity takes place. This in an agent capable of volition, when the beginning or continuation of any action is contrary to that preference of his mind, is called compulsion; when the hindering or stopping any action is contrary to his volition, it is called restraint. Agents that have no thought, no volition at all, are in every thing necessary agents.
$ 14. If this be so (as I imagine it is Liberty beI leave it to be considered, whether it longs not to may not help to put an end to that long the agitated, and I think unreasonable, because unintelligible question, viz. Whether man's will be free or no? For, if I mistake not, it follows from what I have said, that the question itself is altogether improper; and it is as insignificant to ask, whether man's will be free, as to ask whether his sleep be swift, or his virtue square; liberty being as little applicable to the will as swiftness of motion is to sleep, or squareness to virtue. Every one would laugh at the absurdity of such a question as either of these ; because it is obvious, that the modifications of motion belong not to sleep, nor the difference of figure to virtue : and when any one well considers it, I think he will as plainly perceive that liberty, which is but a power, belongs only to agents, and cannot be an attribute or modification of the will, which is also but a power. Volition $ 15. Such is the difficulty of explain
. ing and giving clear notions of internal actions by sounds, that I must here warn my reader that ordering, directing, choosing, preferring, &c. which I have made use of, will not distinctly enough express volition, unless he will reflect on what he himself does when he wills. For example, preferring, which seems perhaps best to express the act of volition, does it not precisely. For though a man would prefer flying to walking, yet who can say he ever wills it? Volition, it is plain, is an act of the mind knowingly exerting that dominion it takes itself to have over any part of the man, by employing it in, or withholding it from, any particular action. And what is the will, but the faculty to do this? And is that faculty any thing more in effect than a power, the power of the mind to determine its thought, to the producing, continuing, or stopping any action, as far as it depends on us? For can it be denied, that whatever agent has a power to think on its own actions, and to prefer their doing or omission either to other, has that faculty called will ? Will then is nothing but such a power. Liberty, on the other side, is the power a man has to do or forbear doing any particular action, according as its doing or forbearance has the actual preference in the mind; which is the same thing as to say, according as he himself wills it. Powers be- $ 16. It is plain then, that the will is longing to nothing but one power or ability, and agents.
freedom another power or ability: so
that to ask, whether the will has freedom, is to ask whether one power has another power, one ability another ability: a question at first sight too grossly absurd to make a dispute or need an answer. For who is it that sees not that powers belong only to agents, and are attributes only of substances, and not of powers themselves ? So that this way of putting the question, viz. Whether the will be free? is in effect to ask, Whether the will be a substance, or agent? or at least to suppose it, since freedom can properly be attributed to nothing else. If freedom can with any propriety of speech be applied to power, or may be attributed to the power that is in a man to produce or forbear producing motion in parts of his body, by choice or preference; which is that which denominates him free, and is freedom itself? But if any one should ask whether freedom were free, he would be suspected not to understand well what he said; and he would be thought to deserve Midas's ears who, knowing that rich was a denomination for the possession of riches, should demand whether riches themselves were rich.
§ 17. However the name faculty, which men have given to this power called the will, and whereby they have been led into a way of talking of the will as acting, may, by an appropriation that disguises its true sense, serve a little to palliate the absurdity ; yet the will in truth signifies nothing but a power, or ability, to prefer or choose : and when the will, under the name of a faculty, is considered as it is, barely as an ability to do something, the absurdity in saying it is free, or not free, will easily discover itself. For if it be reasonable to suppose and talk of faculties as distinct beings that can act (as we do, when we say the will orders, and the will is free), it is fit that we should make a speaking faculty, and a walking faculty, and a dancing faculty, by which those actions are produced, which are but several modes of motion; as well as we make the will and understanding to be faculties, by which the actions of choosing and perceiving are produced, which are but several modes of