« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
Or, the Philosophy of M. Cousin, so far as it is developed
in his Philosophical Fragments, his Introduction to the History of Philosophy, and his Examination of Locke, &c.
(CONCLUDED.) The remaining facts of consciousness, viz., those of sensibility and of will, we shall be obliged to pass over in à more cursory manner. The facts of reason, which we have already considered, are all necessary, and in no degree under the influence or control of the will. The same is true of the facts of sensibility. In the will only, we find freedom. To the acts of the will only, are attached the characteristics of personality and responsibility. According to the system we are considering, we are accountable neither for our sensations, our judgments, nor our preferences, but only for our volitions. The external world is the source and cause of our sensations. "I press upon a sharp cutting instrument, and a painful sensation results. I put a rose to my nose, and an agreeable sensation results. Is it I who produce these phenomena ? Can I make them cease? Does the pain or pleasure come or go at my wish? No; I am subject to the pleasure, as well as the pain; both come, subsist, and depart, without regard to my will. In a word, sensation is a phenomenon marked in the eye of my consciousness with the characteristic of necessity.”* Reason is the source of all our primitive judgments; and these judgments are performed by all men alike. All men must necessarily judge, that the whole is greater than a part, that two and three are equal to five. Reason is pronounced to be that true Light, the Logos of St. John, which “lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” The conclusion is, that "liberty does not fall under sensibility or intelligence,”—a term here
* Elements of Psychology, Chap. X.
used as synonymous with reason,-"it falls under activity, and not under all the facts which are referred to this class, but under a certain number which are marked by peculiar characteristics; that is to say, those actions which we perform, with the consciousness, both of performing them and of being able not to perform them."* Actions, marked by these peculiar characteristics, are said to be only the acts of the will, and, consequently, for these alone are we accountable. To illustrate more particularly the author's views of liberty and accountability, we submit the following extract:
“Every moral act is comprised of three elements, perfectly distinct; 1. The intellectual element, which is composed of the knowledge of the motives for and against, of deliberation, of preference, of choice. 2. The voluntary element, which consists entirely in an internal act, namely, the resolution to do. 3. The physical element, or the external action. *
“It is now the question to determine, precisely, in which of these three elements we are to find liberty, that is to say, the power to do, with the consciousness of being able not to do. Is this power to be found in the first element, the intellectual element of free action? No, for it is not in the power of man to judge that one motive is preferable to another; we are not masters of our preferences, we prefer one motive to another, on this side or that, according to our intellectual nature, which has its necessary laws, without having the consciousness of being able to prefer or to judge differently, and even with the consciousness of being unable not to prefer and to judge as we actually do. It is not, then, in this element, that we are to seek for liberty; neither is it in the third element, in the physical act; for this act supposes the external world, an organization which corresponds to it, and in this organization a muscular system, sound and appropriate, without which the physical act is impossible. When we accomplish this, we are conscious of acting but on condition of a theatre which is not at our disposal, and of instruments which are imperfectly at our disposal, which we can neither restore, if they leave us, and they may leave us at any moment, nor set in order, if they become deranged, and deceive us, and which often do deceive us, and obey their own peculiar laws, over which we have no power, and with which we are scarcely even acquainted; whence it follows, that we do not act here with the consciousness of being able to do the opposite of that which we do. It is not, then, in this third element, any more than in the first, that we are to look for liberty; it can only be in the second; and there, in fact, we find it. Neglect the first and the third element, the judgment and the physical act, and let the second element, the will, subsist alone, analysis discovers two terms still, in this single element, namely, a
* Philosophical Miscellanies, Vol. 1, p. 26.
special act of will, and the power of will within us, to which we refer this act. This act is an effect, in relation to the power of will, which is the cause of it; and this cause, in order to produce its effect, needs no other theatre, and no other instrument, than itself. It produces it directly, without any medium or condition; it continues and completes it, or suspends and modifies it-creates it entirely, or destroys it eptirely; and, at the very moment when it exercises itself by a special act of any kind, we have the consciousness that it could exercise itself by a special act of a quite contrary kind, without any obstacle, without exhausting itself by such action, so that after having changed its acts a hundred times, the faculty remains absolutely the same inexhaustible and identical will itself, in the perpetual variety of its applications, always being able to do what it does not do, and not to do what it does. Here, then, in all its perfection, is the characteristic of liberty. Sensible facts are necessary. We do not impute them to ourselves. Rational facts are also necessary; and reason is no less independent of the will than sensibility. Voluntary facts alone are marked, in the view of consciousness, with the characteristics of personality and responsibility."*
The author has here given us his sentiments upon two most important subjects,—the freedom of the will, and the extent of human accountability. We shall not alarm our readers, by attempting an extended elucidation of these topics; but the prominence, which they have always occupied in philosophical discussions, will justify us in a few brief remarks. Cousin's theory, with regard to the freedom of the will, was designed by himself, and has been regarded by many others, as a refutation of those views of the subject, which have been advocated in this country by President Edwards. We do not, however, regard it as repugnant to the sentiments of Edwards, to maintain that “when the will exercises itself by a special act of any kind, we have the consciousness that it has the power to exercise itself in quite a contrary act, without exhausting itself by such action.” Herein, as Cousin supposes, consists the perfection of liberty; and we grant it. When the will has exercised itself in a certain act, who will deny that the will is the cause of that act? If it is the will's act, it was the will, surely, that acted. It was not motive that acted, nor argument, nor any thing else, but the will itself; and, in producing this act, who will deny, that the will was free, and that the same power which produced
* Elements of Psychology, page 252; also, Philosophical Miscellanies, page 265; also, Ibid., page 124.
this act, is sufficient to produce a directly contrary act, or to repeat the same act? And we know, that the will often does, at different times, and in different circumstances, put forth acts directly contrary to each other. How, then, would Cousin account for this diversity ? We are told that the cause is still to be found in the will alone, that the will always determines itself. But if the will be the only cause, then it will be impossible to account for the difference in action; this difference would be an effect without a cause; for the law, that “like causes produce like effects,” is as applicable to mind, as to matter. And if the will must be regarded, not only as the efficient cause, but as the determining and directing cause of all its acts, then the will must always act in one direction; there could be no difference in volitions, no variety, no liberty, no room for either virtue or vice. Are we told, that the same cause produces different effects, in different circumstances? This we admit; and we would ask, what are the different circumstances which influence the will to put forth acts, differing in their moral character ? These circumstances can be nothing more than the varying motives by which the acts of the will are determined. We are, then, conducted inevitably to the conclusion of Edwards, that the will is determined by the strongest motive. The will is still the efficient and uniform cause of its own acts, while the power of motive is the cause which inclines the will to one action rather than another, and which imparts to every volition the characteristic of virtue or of vice. Were we to offer any further considerations in favor of this position, we could only repeat those which have already been advanced by Edwards himself. His argument still remains unshaken ; and, even had it suffered, in the least, from the attacks of its numerous adversaries, we could have little hope of seeing its breach repaired in these modern times. In our opinion, however, it has gathered strength from age and opposition, and is destined to endure, as long as truth continues to have a single advocate. We recommend it, therefore, to our readers, with a sentiment similar to that which was expressed by a celebrated architect, with regard to the great dome of St. Peter's. Having been commissioned to examine that stupendous monument of mechanical ingenuity, from a fear, that some of its frame-work was beginning to
give way, he returned this report:-" The work of Angelo still stands unimpaired; and should it ever need mending, better let it fall."
As to our author's views of the extent of human accountability, we have much to object. Our limits, however, will admit of only a few brief suggestions. His doctrine is, that the characteristic of responsibility attaches itself only to our volitions, and that these only can have a moral character. In his analysis of action, he first supposes deliberation, preference, and a knowledge of motives for and against. He then asks, what faculty it is which deliberates, prefers, and takes cognizance of motives. He replies, that it is the intelligence, the faculty whose operations, according to his system, are entirely under the control of necessity. To deliberate, he tells us, is “nothing else than to examine with doubt, to estimate the relative value of different motives, without yet perceiving it with the clear evidence that commands judgment, conviction, preference.” “Now," he again asks, “what is it that examines, what is it that doubts, what is it that judges, that we should not yet judge, in order to judge better? Evidently it is intelligence. * * * It is in the intelligence that the phenomena of preference take place, as well as the other phenomena which it supposes. Thus far, then, we are still in the sphere of intelligence, and not in that of action.” Intelligence deliberates, intelligence prefers, intelligence decides that we ought to do it. At this point, the office of intelligence closes, without having performed any act to which is attached the least accountability, the least virtue or vice. The whole matter is now referred to the disposal of another faculty,—this faculty resolves ; it says, I will, or I will not. Here commences responsibility; here commences virtue or vice. The faculty which resolves is not the same with the faculty which judges and decides. The faculty which says I ought, is not the same which says I will. I ought, is a necessary judgment, I will, is a free and unrestrained volition. Volition only can be praised or blamed.
Could this system be sustained, how would the responsibility of man be diminished! What a multitude of his sins would prove to be sinless! For his opinions, which have so often led him astray, he is no longer accountable. His preferences, his desires, his choice, which impel him
VOL. IV.—NO. XIII.