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operation is the exact mechanical measure of the causation. It is plain that its sensibility has not endowed it with the possibility of moral blame or merit, and for a very plain reason. It is seen not to be truly the author of its own actions. It moves only as it is moved. It acts only as its springs are touched. There exists not in its entire being any power to move otherwise than as the fixed and constant result of the force received. Its operations are the necessitated effects of necessitative causations. It is guiltless, undeserving, irresponsible, because it can act no otherwise than it does act. Common-sense demands not only sensibility but free self-control. We thence deduce the LAW, which is universal and apodictical, that no act can be morally obligatory, responsible, or guilty—no agent can be morally obligated, rewardable, or punishable-unless there be in the agent adequate power for other act than the act in question.
Rising from mechanical into animal existence, we recognize in the horse, for instance, every combination of both material and mental automatic excellence. Beauty of form, color, and motion, adjustment of parts for strength and speed, balance of forces there are so as to fit him for his place in the economy of creation. And then in his mind there is just such a proportionment of perceptive faculties and emotions as to produce that train of volitions and actions as will suit him to his intended uses. If, on the other hand, his dispositions be so badly proportioned as to produce irregular and refractory action, we apply severity or blandishment as we do the means to repair the watch, as a regulative. It is simply an alterative. That alterative is not a justice, but an expedient. By applying the impulses of pain and fear, we alter the balance of forces and produce better modes and habits of action. We may thus so rearrange, that both mind and body may present again the model of automatic excellence. But being a simple automatic though mental organism, we have not yet found a particle of moral merit.
The beauty of appearance, the skill of the artist, the adaptation to the ends, the perfection of the working, and the value of the results—these are the qualities of automatic excellence. When we find these in body or mind, we admire, love, and desire them. We appropriate the article to ourselves, confer upon it values and preferences. We make of the whole class
on. But :
pets, ornaments, and enjoyments. On the contrary, where the automatism of thing or animal is defective, ugly, or offensive, we render it our disgust or hatred. We repel it from use, and are ready to abandon it to misery or destruction. But if we examine our feelings we shall find them purely non-ethical ; we shall find ourselves absolutely unable to attribute to it the least element of moral merit or demerit. Its ugliness and its beauty, its precise action or mal action, is not its own fault; it is entirely automatic.
But is the animal will or action automatic? Yes, as truly as the machine, if it be necessitated. Just as automatically an object strikes the retina, so automatically the perception rises. As automatically the perception, so automatically the highest desire. As automatically the highest desire, so automatically the volition. And as automatically the volition, so automatically the action. So the whole round of impulses and effects are automatic because all are necessitated, and alike necessitated. The volition is here no less necessitated, and so no less automatic, than the perception or the desire.
But suppose that, as one term in this series of automatic mental states or operations, there should be inserted a feeling, automatically rising, of right or wrong, of blame or moral approval. Suppose that, after one automatic volition, a consequent feeling of guilt or of merit should emerge. The question then is, Would this entire automatic organism of intellect, however clear, of sensibility, however acute, of volition, however exact, and of moral feeling, however intense, constitute a moral being, truly capable of blamable and rewardable acts ? Common sense can give only a negative answer. The feeling of blame or praise would be an arbitrary interpolation, false in its affirmations and absurd in its nature. It would be out of place. Should that feeling assume that the volitions of an organism which possessed, in the given instance, no power for the production of any but that volition, were guilty or morally ap- . provable, its assumption would be untrue.
From these considerations we can see that Edwards rightly defined a moral agent to be “a being that is capable of those actions that have a moral quality, and which can properly be denominated good or evil in a moral sense, virtuous or vicious, commendable or faulty.” But the elements necessary to con
FOURTH SERIES, VOL. XIII.—31
stitute an action responsibly “good or evil in a moral sense,” and also “commendable or faulty,” Edwards failed correctly to enumerate. The power in the agent in the given case to withhold the responsible volition he omitted to postulate.
In an automatic organism it can make no difference what the substance composing its series or system of parts, whether matter, electricity, or spirit; or whether the connection of its constituent elements or pieces, be a current, or an emotion, or a ligature, or a volition; provided the whole series do but transmit from part to part a fixed force, and a necessary action, landing in a solely possible result.
We are as able to imagine what may with propriety be called a spiritual as a material machine. Of a machine nothing stronger can be said than that the causative action of one part upon the other secures the solely possible result; and that can as truly be said of a mental organism as of a material organism ; and as truly said of a resulting volition as of a resulting intellection or of a resulting mechanical material motion. Such a spiritual machine would be made of a conscious center and sensitive parts. Intellect, sensibility, and will would be its constituents; just as weights, wheels, and hands are the constituents of a clock. And just as the gravitative force may pass from weights to wheels, and from wheels to hands, and may bring the hand to a particular figure, so may the motive force pass from intellect to sensibility, and from sensibility to will, and bring the will to a given volition. The determination of the clock pointer may be no more fixed and necessitated than the determination of a volition. The causations may, in both cases, be as inevitable. If they are not equally mechanical, the difference is essentially verbal ; consisting in the fact that the word mechanical is normally applied only to material organisms. But all that renders a mere mechanical action of a conscious machine incapable of moral responsibility exists in the case ; namely, a necessitation antecedently fixing the given volitional action. Nor is there the slightest validity in the notion of some thinkers who imagine that the very fact of its being a volition, and not some other thing or event, secures its responsibility. Ask them why a volition is responsible, and their only reply is, Because it is a volition. A volition, necesitatively affixed to the agent, is no more responsible than anyother attribute, event, operation, or fact.
The human constitution is a compound of the spiritual machine and the bodily machine, co-operating in a sort of “preestablished harmony.” The action of forces from the external world strikes through the corporeal frame inward to the spiritual organism, reaching its central power of action; and, from that central power, action comes forth through the corporealframe upon the external world. If this process be simply action and fixed reaction, producing a solely possible result, then the whole process is, so far as responsibility is concerned, as non-ethical as any case of mechanical impulse and recoil.
The impulse of rays from the beautiful fruit strikes the retina of an eye, and the perception of the exact form and force by necessitation automatically rises. The impulse of perception necessitates the strongest desire automatically to arise. The moral emotion being automatically neutralized, the impulse of strongest desire strikes the will, and automatically the volition springs forth, and from the volitional impulse the automatic action. The automatic corporeal action springs no more mechanically from the volition than the automatic volition from the automatic desire, and that from the automatic perception, and that from the ray of light, and that from the fruit. We admire or condemn the excellent or defective automatism ; but the mere arbitrary interpolation of an automatic moral emotion in the series calls not for the attribution by us of any moral merit or blame to the organism, or any part of its automatic action or substance.
We thus demonstrate that if the volition be as necessitated as the emotion, the emotion as the perception, the perception as the receptivity of the retina, then the whole automatic chain forms a circle of automatic force as irresponsible as the streak of an electric circle. It is impossible for logic to show or common sense to see any more responsibility or moral merit or demerit in the necessitated volition than in the necessitated emotion, the necessitated perception, or the necessitated receptivity of the retina, or the necessitated visual ray, or the necessitated fruit. .
Nor can the universal common sense of mankind see that volition, and emotion, and perception, and sensorial retina
necessitatively subjected to automatic effect from automatic impulsions, are any more imputable with moral merit or demerit, praise or blame, reward or penalty, than a similar succession of material automatic parts, under exact and necessary physical forces. We can only find non-meritorious excellence. If this be true, then necessitated volition is non-responsible volition; and if none but necessitated volitions universally exist, moral responsibility has no existence in the universe. The “common-sense of mankind” recognizes inorality in volition alone, and not in mere perception, because it recognizes in volition alone non-necessitation.
If we consider a Washington* as a living system of mental and bodily parts and forces so balanced ; if clear perceptions and sagacious intellect were so proportioned with emotions of honor, patriotism, heroism, and self-sacrifice, as necessitatively to create that train of grand volitions by which he saved his country, then in body, intellect, and will he was a most noble specimen of merely automatic excellence. We should admire him as a most perfect living and acting colossus. We would love him and wish him all happiness, just as we love and wish well to all noble automatism. But he is only fortunate; he is no more meritorious, morally, than Benedict Arnold. His was only a happier fate.
Washington was, as we view the matter, meritorious, because, being volitionally able to prefer to betray his country he saved it. He saved it amid temptations appealing to his apparent selfinterest, his love of ease, and his fear of danger. He served his country after the Revolution by rejecting the motives that would lead him to a Napoleonic self-aggrandizement. The very magnanimity of his character consists in his choosing in accordance with right motives, in preference to powerful wrong ones, possible to him and present before him. He could have yielded to the wrong; he chose to act by the right.
With regard to the human will of our Saviour, Edwards strives by many arguments to show that it was automatic and
* “Is Washington entitled to no credit for giving freedom to his country, unless it can be proved that he was equally inclined to betray it?" (Day on the Will, p. 116.) The question is falsely put. We do not hold that it was necessary that he should be equally “inclined to betray it;" but that he should be susceptible to the temptation and possessed of adequate power for the volition to betray it. Otherwise, we praise him for the non-performance of an impossible act.