Imatges de pàgina
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have them as strongly and ineradicably as ful common man by the hand, lead him aside any ideas whatever,” and the possession of and ask him to look back carefully over his these is taken as proof that “physical past life, to mark well its leading incidents, science, which presents to us everything un- and say whether it appears to have been der the conditions of time and space,” is mainly shaped either by uniform laws or by not any

considerable approach to a complete the energy of his own will. Will he not knowledge of the universe.” Now, in what tell us that while, on the one hand, he has does the force of this argument consist? been conscious of acting every moment as Does it imply an objective reality corres- a free agent, and while, on the other, he ponding to those ideas, and “independent has felt himself constantly hedged in, on of the soul which participates in them?” the right hand and on the left, by great The writer would not quarrel with that posi- moral and social laws, every retrospect but tion. But as he is not seeking to establish forces upon him more strongly the conan hypothesis, but simply stating logical viction that his course had been, after all, difficulties, the question is in what way that shaped in accordance with what he now evidence differs from that derived from the recognises as the design of an overruling possession of such other universal ideas as Intelligence, by circumstances and influences those of Absolute Justice, Goodness, &c. which his utmost sagacity was utterly powerIf by moral evidence is meant that based less either to foresee or to control ; that upon our instinctive faith, stronger than here his path was walled across and a new any mere intellectual persuasion, in the way marked out for him ; that there all the veracity and reliability of our own nature, currents of thought and feeling were mystewhy does not the same argument hold riously turned into a new channel ; that just equally good in reference to any univer- at this point an apparently trivial event left sal idea whatever? Probably this is what its mark upon his whole subsequent life; is meant by the “argument really moral," while anon some sudden catastrophe brought which is said to lurk under the form of confusion to all his plans. Hence he is the metaphysical, though we fail to find ready to exclaim, with that great student of it appearing elsewhere. But may we not human life, who has crystallized in impego much further ? Is, for instance, our rishable speech so many of the teachings of conviction that we are under the rule of an nature and experienceOmnipotent Will, one whit less “universal

“ There's a divinity that shapes our ends, and ineradicable" than that which Mr.

Rough-hew them how we will." Goldwin Smith accepts as the sole valid evidence of our immortality? It may not

That these words express the practically exist, it is true, in infants or in savage and universal conviction of the race will scarcely degraded races, “except in a form corres- be denied. The men of science who repuponding to the general lowness of their con- diate it are scarcely more numerous than ceptions.” But if the destiny of man is wholly those who discard the alleged anticipations “wrought out by evolution and effort,” surely of conscience in regard to a future state. one would think the experience and obser- Logical strictness would probably require vation of all time could hardly have failed to the classes to be identical. At any rate, if discover it, or at least to recognise the truth such an immortality as that of the Comtists is and hold it fast whenever it was revealed by any evidence of the persistence of the one some keen-sighted Leucippus or Lucretius. conviction, the worship, “for the most part But no ; those apostles of Positivism who of the silent sort, at the altar of the Unhave appeared from time to time along the known,” of a Huxley and his followers, is ages are but the exceptions which prove the equally valid in regard to the other. rule. Swiftly and surely the human mind Let us vary the illustration for a moment. has reverted to its deities and its hecatombs. If the universal and ineradicable conviction The victims upon ten thousand heathen that our moral account is not closed by altars and the voices from ten thousand death may be accepted as trustworthy testimosques and pagodas and Christian temples mony to the reality of a future life, how can attest the universal verdict. We may try the we refuse to take the conviction, equally experiment upon the individual. Let us go universal and ineradicable, that Infinite Jusout into the crowd, and taking any thought tice is at the helm of affairs, as evidence

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equally trustworthy that scope will be af- Goodness, &c. ? Those who have confidence forded in a future life for the full manifesta- | in the veracity of our nature will not regard tion of that justice? And here it may be that evidence as less trustworthy in itself on asked, whether, in the passage in which it is this account, while the way is left open for argued that what we see by the light of rea- its reinforcement from a hundred sources. son here gives us no “very strong assurance The compatibility of a thorough reliance of compensation and retribution hereafter," upon moral evidence with a full acceptance the real basis of Butler's argument is not of the doctrine of evolution, is the crowning inverted ? Is it not the very fact that nature logical difficulty suggested by the article beseems not uniformly to discriminate between fore us. The present writer is conscious of virtue and vice; that we are unable to trace no prejudice against this doctrine, which here the full development of that righteous certainly contains, at the least, a large adadministration whose beginnings are mixture of truth. On the contrary, he is clearly manifest, which, failing to harmonize fully prepared to accept it as soon as the with our deepest innate convictions, suggests missing links are discovered, and its teachmost strongly that what we see here is but a ings can be reconciled with other undoubted little section of a great circle sweeping facts given us in and through the constituthrough the eternities? The sense of incom- tion of our nature. And certainly that pleteness and failure conflicting with that evolution is not very hard to accept which conviction of absolute righteousness which can be shown to be reconcilable with, ist, " the constitution of our nature " compeis genuine free will ; 2nd, a conscience which us to cherish, creates a presumption of a is more than the principle of individual or future state of rewards and punishments tribal self-preservation ; 3rd, a belief in a strong as our faith in " the veracity of our real, personal immortality. Into the large nature and of the power which we suppose question of the truth or falsity, or the probto uphold it.”

able admixture of the two, in evolution, it Up to this point the aim has been to would be quite out of place to enter here, show that the kind of evidence of a future even if time and space did not forbid. The state called "moral," and derived from the shape of the theory itself varies, probably, premonitions of conscience, is equally valid, with the cast of each containing mind. We so far as appears, for the objective reality of are simply concerned to know the particular those things which are needed to satisfy shape it assumes in the mind of the writer many other universal and ineradicable con- of the article before us, that we may be victions. Into the underlying question, aided in our attempt to harmonize the apwhich readily suggests itself, what, after all, parent contradictions that puzzle us. Un is conscience, if not the faculty whose func- fortunately, the scanty materials at hand are tion it is to gather up, so to speak, and en- insufficient to afford us such knowledge. force the moral lessons logically derivable Around us we see animals, some of them from the facts of nature and of human life, probably representing our immediate physical we do not propose to enter, save as it may progenitors, passing their lives within the incidentally come up in the course of the narrow circle of their own impressions, following remarks. It can scarcely be sup- which is the universe to them, in total unposed that so advanced a thinker as Mr. consciousness of that larger universe which Goldwin Smith really intends to teach that a more developed reason and the appliances of conscience has a discriminating as well as science have opened to us."

“ It is conadmonitory power; that its office is to receivable that as from the inorganic was veal any objective truth intuitively discerned, evolved the organic, and from the organic, unless it be the one great truth that we are humanity, so humanity itself may pass into a responsible for our actions. This one great higher phase, such as denominate axiom must, of course, underlie all its moni- spiritual life.” From the passages

which we tions, just as other intuitively discerned have italicized in the above extracts, the axioms must underlie all other knowledge. author's view in regard to the general law of But if this be so, then how is the conclusion development upward, from the lowest prito be avoided that the evidence of a future mordial forms, is tolerably clear. What is state given by conscience is as truly inferen- not indicated is his conception of the power tial as that derived from our ideas of Justice, which originates and rules over this develop

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ment, for he can scarcely impugn the that our volition counts for something as a veracity of our nature by ignoring causal in-condition of the course of events." And stinct and taking refuge in nescience pure whatever view our experience may have led and simple. Does to his view “the vista us to entertain in respect to the first of these of evolution recede into the simply mechani- beliefs, no one, certainly, can have studied cal,” and is it “intersected at dimly seen the problem very closely without being fully stages by entering lights, first of chemical possessed of the second. The subtile power affinity, then of life, and finally of conscious of the human will counts for very much inness? We need not stay to urge, in the deed as a condition of the course of events. graphic words of Martineau, “This supplies But the question just now is, how Professor the when ' but not the "whence' of each. Huxley himself would rescue the statement Something more is needful if you would above quoted from the dilemma it seems to show that it is the product of its predecessor. involve. Are our volitions themselves but Instead of advancing from behind, it may so many factors in the eternal progression ? have entered from the side. You cannot | Then the second of the above theses is prove a pedigree by offering a date."* More nugatory, being included in the first. Is to our point is it to ask how, when the new our volition a condition standing outside lights which have entered either from be- and independent of that ascertainable order hind or at the side predominate so as to of nature? Then the second manifestly give to the whole scene its shape and shade contradicts the first. If there is a third and colour, is it possible still to view it in possible assumption capable of harmonizing its pristine aspect. To be more specific, the two, will not some believer in the joint how can evolution in its course develop a sovereignty of evolution and free-will charithinking being with a genuine freedom of tably reveal it? will—a power, that is, of choice and action Many, we are aware, will be ready to anwhich is something more than the exact pro- swer that the above remarks are based upon duct of the interplay between organization and an erroneous conception of what is meant environment-and be evolution still? Solong by freedom of the will. We shall be treated as we plant our feet firmly upon necessita to nice metaphysical distinctions between rian principles, however we may be forced freedom from law and freedom from conto ignore or belie the testimony of our own straint, between freedom to choose or act consciousness, we may succeed in avoiding and freedom in choice and action, and these this logical pitfall. But the moment that distinctions will come even more fully from stage of evolution is reached when a living, Orthodoxy than from Evolutionism. The independent will struggles into freedom real question is not what is meant by freefrom the thrall of blind forces and surround- dom by this or that class of writers, but ings, from that moment evolution is no what is freedom? We do not suppose Mr. longer lord of nature. A rival power Goldwin Smith is guilty of the misnomer of enters, and the autocracy becomes hence- applying the term to the acts of an agent so forth a Spartan kingship. The destiny of restricted by “motive,” or anything else, the race is henceforth wrought out, not by that, given an accurate knowledge of charevolution, but by "evolution and effort, acter and conditions, the action of the inas Mr. Goldwin Smith himself puts it in his dividual in any given case might be infalclosing paragraph. Nor, it must be admit- libly foretold. A free will that can be harted, if this utterance puts him outside the monized with the doctrine of the abstract pale of orthodox Evolutionism, is he alone predictability of volition is no freedom at in his heresy. No less distinguished an all.

all. One can hardly pass from the discusapostle of the doctrine than Professorsion of this topic without giving utterance Huxley says, that in order to perform one's to a thought that readily suggests itself. duty in this world of misery and ignorance it is still claimed that, in some way which "it is necessary to be fully possessed of only we have failed to comprehend, a genuine two beliefs—the first, that the order of nature freedom of human will is nevertheless comis ascertainable by our faculties to an extent patible with evolution ; if there is no irreconwhich is practically unlimited ; the second, cilable conflict between the conception of a

* “Modern Materialism," Con. Rev., March, 1876.

* Lay Sermon on

The Physical Basis of Life."

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grand development under the operation of as that of Delphic oracle. It has not even unvarying natural law, from the time when any sure framework of personality to which the globe was a chaos of nebulous matter, it may attach the good or ill it foretells. It and that of the constant activity during a seems to repudiate with Mill the testimony considerable portion of the time, of millions of “the constitution of our nature,” that the of free agents - agents not only capable attribute of thought must belong to a subject. of modifying, obstructing, or accelerating “Substance is but a general name for the the movements of the machinery, but con- perdurability of attributes. Wherever there stituting an important and vital part of it, is a series of thoughts connected together and able at the same time to launch, at any by memories, that constitutes a thinking moment, a consciously independent, if not substance." “ How our existence can conabsolutely new force into the sphere, what tinue beyond death is a mystery, no doubt.” possible objection can lie against the theory A tenfold mystery, if the "we," the “ego,” of the constant presence and operation of which is the stereotyped expression in all a Supreme Will? But then, grant that, and languages of the universal belief, strong as what further need of evolution at all, save man's faith in the veracity of his nature, that as a convenient term to denote the mode in thinking is the attribute of a subject, the act which this will operates ? And so the circle of an agent, has no objective existence. is completed. We find ourselves again at There is no longer even a thread of gossamer the starting point.

on which to string the series of states of conThe length this paper has already reached sciousness which constitutes all there is of renders it necessary that the remaining us. Memory, itself one constituent of the points be dismissed with a word. The gen- series, cannot be conceived as such a filaeral principles already discussed will in the ment. How then is continuity possible main apply here. The article under con- when the organism which must be the only sideration takes strong ground in favour of bond of union here is dissolved ? The law the authority of conscience. It is more of evolution is appealed to for an answer. than “the principle of tribal self-preserva- “ There can be no reason for believing that tion subtilized into etiquette.” Its evidence, the law ceased to operate, and that the series different in kind but not less trustworthy of ascending phases of existence was closed, than that of the senses or of reason, assures just at the point at which man emerged from us that we are “judged by an Unseen Power, the animal.” “It is conceivable that as under whose government it will be well with from the inorganic was evolved the organic, the righteous and ill with the unrighteous in and from the organic, humanity, so humanity the sum of things.” “Conscience is the itself may pass into a higher phase, such as great and hitherto unshaken proof at once we denominate spiritual life.” of the immortality of the soul and of the ex- But has humanity passed into this higher istence of God.” Its teachings are assuredly phase? If so, when? There must have excellent, its office sublime. But whence been a time when humanity had not reached comes it, and who gives it this authority? this point in the ascending scale, and so a Evolution ; the principle of tribal self-pre- part of humanity which has no future life. servation may

have been its rudiment. And But further, humanity's memory retains no what was the rudiment of that ? Traced to trace of the past stage when it was embodied its origin, it leads us away back to a time in those animals which were its immediate when it was the blindest brute instinct; nay, progenitors. What ground of assurance then it loses itself and us in the darkness which have we that humanity, as embodied in lies far behind the entrance of the light of those representatives who have passed or the lowest animal life, and, we suppose, the may pass into the higher phase, will retain simplest chemical affinity. Whence, then, any nexus in consciousness to link the new we repeat, has it this authority? What be life with the former? A future life which is stows the authority? And when? At what not a conscious continuance of the present point in the development ? We would not would be an unsatisfying delusion. Such a stake our highest well-being upon the vati continuity to be real must be personal and cinations of an unauthenticated seer. individual. One marked feature of many

And what of the immortality it foretells ? modern speculations is the tendency to sink Vague, it is true, and ambiguous is its voice | the individual in the mass. This is in direct antithesis to Nature's method. Her rewards, duty, and destiny are interwoven by ten her punishments, all her motives, primarily thousand living fibres with those of others regard the individual. Her modes of opera- all around him, does but multiply to infinity tion demonstrate to his reason what her the motives which bind him to make the voice is ever whispering to his conscience, most of himself in this life, while every fibre that he has a being, a duty, and a destiny of his moral and intellectual being alike peculiarly his own, and that upon his being thrills in response to the voice of that revetrue to himself hang tremendous and ever- lation which alone sheds a clear light on asting issues. The fact that this being, life and immortality in a world to come.

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