« EdellinenJatka »
In one place we are told, that moral inability is produced by a stronger inclination to the opposite object, and that this stronger inclination exists antecedently lo volition; in the other that the strongest inclination, is volition. There is not the slightest intimation throughout the Review, that Edwards has inconsistently authorised opposing statements on this subject; on the contrary, Prof. T. distinctly and constantly charges upon him one of these views, that which identifies inclination with volition ; and opposes his theory on the ground of it.
What is the value of all this oft-repeated argument, which alleges that Edwards identifies them, and imputes fatalism to his system, in consequence of the identification, the Reviewer's own inconsistent denial of his allegation will serve sufficiently to show. If Edwards did identify them, he had too much acuteness to persist in an error so manifest, and he relieved his system of its embarrassments by a happy inconsistency, for which his critic has not given him credit.
After some remarks upon general and particular inability, the Reviewer proceeds to comment on Edwards' discussion of the phrase, “want of power or ability.” His treatment of this topic, we have not found marked with his usual clearness; while, as in some former instances, we are forced to dissent from the interpretation, which his comment places upon the passage in question. We quote it entire froin the Inquiry, that our readers may judge for themselves of the validity of his construction of it; dividing it into two paragraphs for the sake of convenient reference.
1." It must be observed concerning moral inability, in each kind of it, that the word Inability is used in a sense very diverse from its original import. The word signifies only a natural inability in the original use of it; and is applied to such cases only, wherein a present will or inclination 10 the thing, with respect to which a person is said to be unable, is supposable. It cannot be truly said, according to the ordinary use of language, that a malicious man, let him be ever so malicious, caunot hold his hand from striking, or that he is not able to show his neighbor kindness; or that a drunkard, let his appetite be ever so strong, cannot keep the cup from his mouth. In the strictest propriety of speech, a man has a thing in his power, if he has it in his choice, or at his election : and a man cannot be truly said to be unable to do a thing, when he can do it if he will. It is improperly said, that a person cannot perform those external actions which are dependent on the act of the will, and which would be easily performed, if the act of will were present. And if it be improperly said, that he cannot perform those external voluntary actions, which depend on ihe will, it is in some respects more improperly said that he is unable to exert the acts of will themselves ; because it is more evidently false, with respect to these, that he cannot, if he will; for to say so is a downright contradiction; it is to say he cannot will, if he docs will. And, in this case, not only is it true, that it is easy for the man to do the thing if he will, but the very willing is the doing : when once he has willed, the thing is performed, and nothing else remains to be done."
2. “ Therefore, in these things to ascribe the non-performance to want of power or ability, is not just; because the thing wanting is not a being able, but a being willing. There are faculties of mind, and capacities of nature, and every thing else sufficient but a disposition : nothing is wanting but
We give now the Reviewer's explanation of the first of these paragraphs :
“ It is still more improper to say that a man is unable to exert the acts of will themselves, or unable to produce voli. Lions. To say that a man has power to produce volitions, would imply that he has power to will volitions ; but this would make one rolition the cause of another, which is ab. surd. But as it is absurd to represent the will as the cause of its own volitions, and of course to say that a man has abil. ity to produce volitions, it must be absurd likewise, in any particular case, to represent the man as unable to produce volitions : for this would imply that in other cases he is able.”
We feel bound to object to this exposition as a misconception of the meaning of the passage. We do so on the following grounds :
1. It substilntes an entirely different reason for ihe impropriety of the language under consideration, from that which Edwards formally assigns. He says “il is evidently false"_"it is a downright contradiction"-" it is saying he cannot will if he does will.” Prof. T says “it would inply that in some cases a man is able to produce volitions." Nor
does it help the Reviewer's construction, to show that the implication he alleges, involves an absurdity upon the scheme of Edwards ; for the absurdity, if it be adınited, is a totally different thing from the "downright contradiction,” which Edwards has so distincily specified. But,
2. The alleged implication is not logically involved. The Reviewer argues that “to say that a man has power to produce volitions would imply that he has power to will volitions." By no means. We cannot perceive that this is implied. The only authority for the Professor's statement is the decision we have already noticed, that Edwards does not distinguish between the causation and the determination of volition. On the contrary, Edwards does speak continually of the man's "exerting” or producing volitions without the suspicion that it implies willing them.
3. Even if involved, we cannot consider the implication an absurd one. “This would make” says the Reviewer, “one volition the cause of another, which is absurd.” Here again we must dissent. Edwards does indeed maintain, that to make choosing a volition essential to its liberty is absurd, but not that choosing a volition is so." He says, “It is no contradiction lo suppose that there may be desires and endeavors to prevent or excite fulure acts of will.” Edwards here accepts, and affirms, as "no contradiction," the very thing which his Reviewer makes him reject as “a downright contradiction"—ihat one act of will may “excite” or produce another. Prof. T.'s anxiety to fasien upon the Inquiry the scheine of physical necessity, has led him to what we are compelled to regard as a most strange misapprehension of the meaning of Edwards.
Nor is this the whole of it. In his remarks upon the second of the paragraphs above quoted from Edwards, he makes another effort to inaintain his theory. “In these things" (acts of will) “10 ascribe a non-performance 10 the want of power or to the want of motives,” (for this is plainly his meaning), "is not just, because the thing wanting, that is immediately wanting, and wanting so far as the agent himself can be the subject of remark, is not a being able, ibat is a having the requisire motives or the moral ability, but a being willing, or the act of volition itself.” According to this passage, the inability to which it is not just,' to ascribe non-performance, i. e, the non-exertion of a volition, is a moral inability-it is
not just to ascribe the absence of a volition to moral inability to produce it. To what inability, then, we would ask, is it justly ascribable? To natural inability ? Edwards again and again says, that in this, the proper use of the term, it is absurd to apply it to volition. This inability, therefore, is not natural. 'Prof. T. says it is not moral ; 10 what hitherto undescribed and unimagined species of inability is it just to ascribe the deficiency, or is there after all no inability of any kind in the case ? The inability to which it is not just to ascribe the failure of the act of volition is moral inability; "this is plainly his meaning,” says the Reviewer. Now, Professor Tappan is not in the habit of carrying his points by the mere assertion of them, and we should feel unwilling, therefore, even lo insinuate that he has nothing to sustain his assertion here ; at the same time it would have been far more satisfactory if he had given the reasons which have led him to the conclusion that this is the meaning of Edwards. We have been accustomed to entertain the conviction that his meaning in this passage is precisely inc reverse—hat it is natural inability to which ine failure may not be attributed. In this conviction we know we are not alone. We must request our readers to refer to the passage which we have quoted entire for this purpose, and decide whether it is not ability in the original and proper use of the term, of which he speaks throughout it. The supposition that it is moral inability is not, to our mind, even plausible. We think we may appeal to every student of the Inquiry, whether it is not perfectly notorious, that moral inability is the very thing and the only thing to which, in the philosophy of Edwards, it is just to ascribe the non-production of a volition.
Nor can we help observing here, to what totally different issues the discussion of this topic is brought by Edwards and his Reviewer. “It is evident,” says the latter, “that there may be an utter moral inability to do a thing—that is, the
be wanting which causes the volition which is the immediate antecedent of the thing to be done,” &c.; the former says, " the thing wonting is, not a being able, but a being willing,' “ the act of volition itsell," as Prof. T. explains it. “There are faculties of mind, and capacity of nature, and every thing else sufficient but a disposition; NOTHING is wanting but a will.” This positive and sweeping language, which Prof. T. has not quoted, seeins to us to deny that it is “ihe
but the urgen
motive which causes the volition,” that is wanting. We are unable to see how the Reviewer could so far overlook it, as to set forth such an exposition of the passage ; cies of an untenable theory will account for some extravagances of logic, in the writings even of able men.
We have thus noticed the most important of the reasonings, by which Prof. Tappan would prove Edwards a fatalist; and we cannot think it too much to say of them, that they indicate a false conception in the critic's mind, of the meaning and system of his author. We are confirmed in this opinion, by the fact that he has no where intimated that there is a solitary passage which sanctions the views of that numerous class who regard Edwards as an advocate of liberty; for we cannot believe that a work which has been the subject of so inuch controversy, should furnish so little ground for it.
Let it be remembered, in determining what system Edwards designed to advocate, that, under the name of Arminjan liberty, Edwards has stated that he opposed three things
1. Self-determination, or liberty as consisting in the previous choice of volition ;
2. Indifference, or liberty as consisting in the absence of previous inclination;
3. Contingence, or liberty as consisting in the absence of all cause.
Now, if he designed to oppose also that view of liberty which makes it consist in power to the contrary volition, why has he not included this in his formal specification of the errors he opposes under that name? Instead of which, we find him saying, that to ascribe the want of a volition to the want of power, “is not just.” Let it be remembered, that Edwards defines philosophical necessity to be," nothing different from certainty," and moral necessity to be "a certainty of the will itself" -moral inability, which Prof. T. says " is a real inability,” he declares to be improperly so called ; and says that "natural inability ALONE is properly called inability.” And if all this be not sufficient, then let it be remembered, that in defending his system from the perversions which the fatalists of his own day were not slow to make of it (the identical perversion of Prof. T.), he uses the following unequivocal language." This author seems every where to suppose, that necessity, most properly so called, attends SECOND SERIES, VOL. IX. NO. 1.