« AnteriorContinuar »
man's undetermined power of choos. ence. If we consider it well, we shall ing; but, whence comes his act of pare be satisfied that it is only on this ticular choice or determination? Is it ground that the conception of an underivative ? can it be traced out of derived act is possible: and, moreover, him up into some foreign source ? we shall see that, on this ground, the Then, of course, his liberty vanishes. conception of such an act is inevitable. Is it not derivative? Then his liberty For if we suppose an act of antago. stands good; but is no longer found nism to take place against the whole to consist in a state of indetermina- of man's given existence, against all tion to several courses of action. It that man is born, it is impossible that must be conceived of as an underived this act itself can be given or derivaor absolutely self-grounded act of de tive ; for the supposition is, that this termination in favour of one.
act is opposed to all the given or deri. Thus, then, the conception of liber. vative in man, and is nothing except ty is reduced to some degree of dis- in so far as it is thus opposed. It, tinctness and tangibility. If there be therefore, it were itself derivative, besuch a thing as human liberty, it must ing no longer the opposite of the deri. be identical with an absolutely origi- vative, it would be a nonentity ; or, it nal or underived act; and the conceps would be a suicidal act, exterminating tion of the one of these must be the itself. Therefore, if we are to form a same as the conception of the other of conception at all of such an antagonist them. But it is still our business to act, we must conceive it as absolutely show in what way the conception of primary and underived; and on the such an act is possible.
other hand, if we would frame a truo It is palpably impossible to conceive conception of human liberty, or an liberty, or an underived act, as arising underived act, we can only conceive it out of man's natural or given exist. as the antagonist act we have been ence. According to our very concep. describing-We must conceive it as an tion of this species of existence, all act opposing or resisting every thing the activity put forth out of it is of a in man which is given, passive, natu. derivative or transmitted character. ral, or born. As we have already said, such kind of Thus, then, we have now shown in activity is not activity at all, but pas. what way a correct conception of husivity. Not being originated absom man liberty is to be framed; or, in lutely by the creature who apparently other words, we have pointed out the exerts it, every particle of it falls to grounds upon which man's freedom is be refunded back out of this creature possible. It is possible, because the into the source from whence it really particular act described as identical comes; and this clearly leaves the and convertible with it, namely, an act being in question a mere passive cream of determinate antagonism against the ture throughout; and, at any rate, natural or unconscious man, can, at incapable of putting forth a primary any rate, be conceived. But, admitand underived act.
ting that it may be conceived, we But though it is impossible for us must now ask, Is it also practised ? Is to conceive an underived act put forth Human Liberty actual as well as pos. out of man's natural existence, there is sible? Besides finding its realization yet nothing to preveut us from con- in thought, does it also find its realizaceiving an act of this kind put forth tion in fact? against man's natural or given exist
For an answer to this question we paper, consciousness is an act of anmust refer ourselves to observation tagonism against the one of them, and and experience. But observation and has the other of them for its result. experience have already decided the A glance at the very surface of man point. Consciousness itself is the ae- showed it to be a matter of general tualization of the conception we have notoriety, that sensation and the conbeen describing. Lying betueen the sciousness of sensation, passion and the two species of human existence discri- consciousness of passion, never coexist minated at the commencement of this in an equal degree of intensity. We found the great law counected with changes of man's given existence them to be this ; not that they grew purely passive in their character. They with each other's growth and strength are states of suffering, whether the sufened with each other's strength, but, fering be of pleasure or of pain, or of on the contrary, that each of them an indifferent cast. There is obviousgained just in proportion as the other ly nothing original or active connectlost. Wherever a passion was ob- ed with them. There is nothing in served to be carried to its greatest them except their own given contents, excess, a total absence or cessation of and these are entirely derivative. In consciousness was noticed to be the the smell of a rose, for instance, there result, and the man lost his person is nothing present except the smell of ality. When consciousness began to a rose. In a word, let us turn and re-assert itself, and to regain its place, twist, increase or diminish any sensathe passion, in its turn, began to give tion as we please, we can twist and way, and, becoming diminished or sus, turn it into nothing except the par. pended, the man recovered his person- ticular sensation which it is. ality. The same was observed to be Let us suppose, then, a particular the case with regard to sensation. A sensation to be impressed upon any of sensation is notoriously most absorb- man's organs of sense let us suppose ing when the least consciousness of it propagated forwards along the it has place; and, therefore, is not nerves-let us trace it forth unto the the conclusion legitimate that it would brain- let us admit Hartley's or any be still more effective—that it would other philosopher's “ vibrations," be all-absorbing, provided no con- " elastic medium,” or “ animal sciousness of it interfered to dissolve spirits," to be facts; and finally, let us the charm ? And does not all this suppose it, through the intervention of prove that consciousness is an act of the one or other of these, landed and antagonism against the modifications safely lodged in what metaphysicians of man's natural being, and that, in- are pleased to term the “mind;" still deed, it has no office, character, or we maintain that, in spite of this circonceivability at all, unless of this an. cuitous operation, the man would retagonist and negative description ? main utterly unconscious, and would
But this act has, as it were, two sides, not, in consequence of it, have any and although single, it fulfils a double existence as * I" (the only kind of office. We have still to show, more existence which properly concerns clearly than we have yet done, how him), nor would the external object this act, breaking up the great natur. have any existence as an object for al unities of sensation and of passion, him. He would not perceive it, alat once displaces the various modifica- though sentient of it ; the reason of tions of man's given existence, and, by which is, that perception implies an a necessary consequence, places the “I," and a “not 1,” a subject and being which was not given_namely, object; and a subject and object inthe « l" of humanity--the true and volve a duality; and a duality preproper being of every man “ who supposes an act of discrimination. But cometh into the world." This dis no act of discrimination-no act of cussion will lead us into more minute any kind is involved in sensationand practical details than any we have therefore, man might continue to yet encountered.
undergo sensations until doomsday, The earliest modifications of man's without ever becoming “1," and natural being are termed “sensations." without ever perceiving an external * These sensations are, like all the other universe.
* The statement that we become acquainted with the existence of an external world through, and in consequence of, our sensations, besides its falsehood, embodies perhaps the boldest petitio principiï upon record. How are we assured of the reality of an external world ? asks the philosophy of scepticism. Through the senses, answers the philosophy of faith. But are not the senses themselves a part of the external universe ? and is not this answer, therefore, equivalent to saying that we become assured of the reality of the external universe through the external universe ? or, in other words, is not this solution of the question a direct taking-for-granted of the very matter in dispute ? It may be frivolous to raise such a question, but it is certainly far more frivolous to resolve it in this manner the manner usually practised by our Scottish philosophers, How then does man become “ I?" nation laid down between them implies how does he become percipient of an the presence of the element of negaexternal universe? We answer, not tion, that is to say, knowledge, conthrough sensation, but by and through sciousness, perception, depend upon an act of discrimination, or virtual the restoration of the element we supnegation. This negation is not, and posed withdrawn, and are inconceiy. need not be expressed in words. It able and impossible without it. It is is a silent, but deep deed, making each therefore evident, that if man, in senman an individual person ; and it is sation, were virtually identified with enough, if the reality of it be present, the object, were the same as it, he even although the expression and dis- would never perceive it, it would tinct conception of it should be absent. never be an object to him, and just as But, if the reality were actually ab. little would he be “ I.” But the only sent, then there would be a difference way in which this virtual identificaindeed. If “no," in thought, and in tion is to be avoided, is by and through deed, were taken out of the world, an implied discrimination. Then only man would never become “ I," and, do the “ I” and “not I" emerge, and for him, the external universe would become the “I” and the “ not 1." remain a nonentity. Sensation, pas. But an implied discrimination involves sion, &c., would continue as strong an act of negation, either implicitly and violent as ever, but consciousness or explicitly. Therefore, an act of would depart; man and nature, “ 1," negation, actual or virtual, is the fun. and not " I," subject and object lap. damental act of humanity-is the consing into one, and every thing merging dition upon which consciousness and in a great unity, would be as though knowledge depend—is the act which they were not. Indeed, the conse- makes the universe an object to usquences of the disappearance of this is the ground, and the placer of the small and apparently insignificant ele. “I" and the “ not I.” ment are altogether incalculable.
Do metaphysicians still desire inAn illustrative view will help to formation with respect to the “nature render our meaning more distinct, and of the connexion," the “ mode of comour statement more convincing. Let munication" which subsists between us suppose man to be visited by par- matter and what they term “ mind ?" ticular sensations of sight, of smell, of or do they continue to regard this touch; and let us suppose these in question as altogether insoluble? duced by the presence of a rose. Now, Åbout - mind” we profess to know it is evident that, in this process, the nothing. But if they will discard this rose contributes nothing except the hypothetical substance, and consent particular sensations mentioned. It to put up with the simple word and does not contribute the element of reality « I," instead of it, we think negation. Yet, without the element we can throw some light on what takes of negation, the rose could never be place between matter and “ me," and an object to the man (and unless it that the foregoing observations have were an object to him, he of course already done so. The point at which would never perceive it); neither with. all preceding philosophers have conout this element could the man ever fessed the hiatus to be insurmountable, become “ I." For let us suppose this the hitch to be inscrutably perplexing, element to be absolutely withdrawn was not the point at which the im. to have no place in the process, then pression was communicated to the “I” and the rose, the subject and ob. organ of sense-was not the point ject, being undiscriminated, a virtual where the organ communicated the identification of them would prevail. impression to the nerves-was not the But an identification of the subject point where the nerves transmitted it to and object, of the Being knowing and the brain,--but was the point where the the Being known, would render per. brain, or ultimate corporeal tissue, ception, consciousness, knowledge, in- conveyed it to the « mind.” Here conceivable ; for these depend upon lay the gap which no philosophy ever å setting asunder of subject and ob vet intelligibly cleared ; here brooded ject, of " l" and " not l." But a set the mist which no breath of science ting asunder of subject and object, ever yet succeeded in dispersing. But, depends upon a discrimination laid repudiating the hypothesis of " mind," down between them. But a discrimi. let us use the word, and attend to the reality“ 1,” and we shall see how the and to inform him distinctly what vapours will vanish, how the pros- it is that takes place between “matpect will brighten, and how the hiatus ter" and “me" (matter presenting itwill be spanned by the bridge of a self, as it always does, in the shape of comprehensible fact. In the first a sensation)? then we beg to inform him place, in order to render this fact the that all that takes place between them more palpable, let us suppose, what is is an act of negation, in virtue of which not the case, that the “I” is immediate- they are what they are ; and that this ly given-comes into the world ready act constitutes that link or rather made; and that a sensation, after being unlink) between body and mind-if we duly impressed upon its appropriate must call the “I'' by that name-which organ of sense, and carried along the many philosophers have sought for, nerves into the brain, is thence conveyed and which many more have declined into this “ 1.” But we have just seen the search of out of despair of ever that, along with this transmission of finding it. sensation, there is no negation con. We must here guard our readers veyed to this “ 1.” There is nothing against a delusive view of this subject transmitted to it except the sensation. which may be easily taken up. It But we have also just seen that without may still, perhaps, be conceived that a negation, virtually present, at least, “mind," or the “ 1," is immediately there could be no “I” in the case. given-is sent into the world, as we This supposed “ 1,” therefore, could have said, ready-made—and that it not be a true and real “ I." Its puts forth this act of negation out of ground is yet wanting. In point of the resources of its natural being. fact it may be considered to lapse into Such a doctrine borrows its support, “mind," and to be as worthless and as we have already hinted, from what upphilosophical as that spurious subs are called " the laws of human stance which we have been labouring thoughts," but is utterly discounte. to get rid of. Throwing this “ 1,” nanced by facts; that is to say, by the therefore, aside, let us turn back, and sources themselves from whence these supposing, what is the case, that the laws are professedly, although, as it “I” is not immediately given, let us appears, incorrectly deduced. This follow forth the progress of a sensa. doctrine directly reverses the truth of tion once more. A particular impres- facts and the real order of things. It sion is made upon an organ of sense furnishes us with a notable instance of in man, and what is the result : Sen- that species of misconception and losation. Carry it on into the nerves, gical transposition technically called a into the brain, what is the result ? husteron-proteron ; * in vulgar lanMere sensation. Is there no con- guage, it places the cart before the sciousness? As yet there is none. But horse. For, as we have all along seen, have we traced the sensation through the being “I” arises out of this act its whole course ? No: if we follow of negation, and therefore this act of it onwards we find that somewhere or negation cannot arise out of the being other it encounters an act of negation “1." All the evidence we can collect -a “no” gets implicated in the pro- on the subject-every ray of light that cess, and then, and then only, does falls upon it, proves and reveals it to consciousness arise-- then only does be a fact, that the act of negation preman start into being as “I”-then cedes the being “J," is the very cononly do subject and object stand asun. dition or constituent ground upon der. We have already proved, we which it rests, and therefore the being trust with sufficient distinctness, that « l" cannot possibly precede or be this act must be present, either actual. given anterior to this act of negation. ly or virtually, before man can be “1," We may say, if we please, that this and before the external universe can act of negation is the act « I," but not be an object to him—that is, before that it arises out of the being “1," he can perceive it--and therefore we because the whole testimony of facts need not say any thing more upon this discountenances such a conclusion, and puint. But does “ the philosopher of goes to establish the very reverse. mind” now ask us to redeem our pledge, The perfect truth is, that man acts I
before he is I, that is to say, he acts violator of sensation. Let us endea. before he truly is his act precedes vour once more to show that this act, and realizes his being ;-a direct rever, from its very character, must be undesal of the ordinary doctrine, but a rived and free. The proof is as folmost important one as far as the esta, lows. Sensation is a given or derivablishment of human liberty is con tive state. It has, therefore, from the cerned ; because, in making man's first a particular positive character. But existence to depend upon his act, and this act is nothing in itself; it has no in showing his act to be absolutely positive character; it is merely the oporiginal and underived-an act of an posite the entire opposite of sensation. tagonism against the derivative modi. But if it were given and derived as well fications of his given nature, we en as sensation, it would not be the entire circle him with an atmosphere of opposite of sensation. It would agree liberty, and invest him with a moral with sensation in this, that both of character and the dread attribute of them would be given. But it agrees responsibility, which, of course, would with the sensation in nothing. It is disappear if man, at every step, moved thoroughly opposed to it. It is pure in the pre-ordained foot-prints of fate, action, while the sensation is pure pasand were not, in some respect or other, sion. The sensation is passive, and is unconditionally free. And move in opposed to consciousness because it is these foot-prints he must, the bonds- derivative. Consciousness is action, man of necessity in all things, if it be and is opposed to sensation because it true that his real and proper substan, is not derivative. If consciousness were tive existence precedes and gives rise a given state it would not be action at to his acts.
all; it would be nothing but passion. If this act of negation never took It would be merely one passion conplace, the sphere of sensation would be tending with another passion. But it enlarged. The sensation would reign is impossible to conceive any passion absorbing, undisputed, and supreme; or given state of Being without some or, in other words, man would, in positive character besides its antagonist every case, be monopolized by the character. But this act of negation bas passive state into which he had been no positive character-has no character cast. The whole of his being would at all except of this antagonist descripbe usurped by the passive modification tion. Besides, it is opposed to every into which circumstances had moulded passion. If consciousness co-exist with it. But the act of negation or con- any passion, we have seen that it dissciousness puts an end to this mono- places it to a certain degree. Therepoly. Its presence displaces the sen- fore, if consciousness were itself a pas. sation to a certain extent, however sive or derivative state it would be small that extent may be. An an suicidal, it would prevent itself from tagonism is now commenced against coming into manifestation. But passpassion (for all sensation is passion), ing by this reductio ad absurdum, we and who can say where this antago. maintain that consciousness meets the nism is to stop. (We shall show, in its given, the derivate in man, at every proper place, that all morality centres point-that it only manifests itself by in this antagonism.) The great unity doing so-and therefore we must conof sensation, that is, the state which clude that it is not itself derivative, but prevailed anterior to the dualization of is an absolutely original act, or, in other subject and object, is broken up, and words, an act of perfect freedom. man's sensations and other passive Let us here note, in a very few states of existence never again possess words, the conclusions we have got to. the entireness of their first unalloyed At our first step we noticed the given, condition_that entireness which they the natural, the unconscious man-a possessed in his infantine years—that passive creature throughout all the wholeness and singleness which was modifications of his Being. At our theirs before the act of negation broke second step we observed an act of the universe asunder into the world of antagonism or freedom taking place man and the world of nature.
against sensation, and the other passive This, then, proves that conscious. conditions of his nature, as we have yet ness, or the act of negation, is not the more fully to see : and at our third step harmonious accompaniment and depen. we found that man in virtue of this dent, but is the antagonist and the antagonism had become “ 1." These