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In a word , if definite volitions havenot their causes in definite states of tfr intf , they can be attributed to no cau ^ e distinct from the mere p ower of willing . But to say that the mere faculty Of the will , or what would here
be the same tiling , the self-determining power , is the sole cause of specific volitions , does not in reality differ from saying * that a definite volition is the cause of itself . The self-determining
jjower , ia itself considered , is equally indifferent to all volitions ; but by a determinate act , it is supposed to cause a specific volition ; but this act is the volition itself , nor can even for a moment be conceived of as distinct from
it . The self-determining power , in other words , wills this or that , because it wills it ; that is , the only reason for the volition is the volition itself . Were it necessary to reason any farther against this same self-determining power , this independent faculty ,
which will submit to no controul , and acknowledge no principle of action but the imperious maxim sit pro ratione voluntas 9 it might be objected in the first place , that its existence is a mere assumption ; secondly , that the
assumption is unnecessary , as the phenomena of volition are satisfactorily accounted for without it $ thirdly , that the assumption is unwarrantable , as we are acquainted with nothing in the whole compass of nature which bears anv analogy to such a faculty ; and
fourthly , ihat the supposed operation of this fiaeulty contradicts * tke only no * . tions whhsh mankind have ever form ed of the e % miewion between cause and effect . We are , indeed , ignorant , of the operation of what we term causes ,
but this ignorance does not diminish the force of the objection . For a definite effect , we , in fact , look for a definite cause ; and every variation in the effect is always supposed to imply a proportionable variation in the cause .
Let it , then , be remembered , that the subject of controversy is not the cause of volition in general , but of definite and specific volitions . Now a selfdetermining power , if it means any thing , must mean * a power which , at the same time and in the same
circumstances , can form either of two different or opposite volitions . But to refer a definite volition to the act of such a faculty , is , according to the only idea trhich toe have of causation , to say that a specific volition can be formed without a cause . The sic vola of the
selfdetermining power will not be a satisfactory answer to the question , how it came to be the pleasure of the will to determine as it did . The prevalence of one inclination at the very moment when it was possible by the hypothesis that another inclination should have
prevailed , requires a definite cause as much as any effect in nature ; or rather the supposition involves an impossibility , unless mankind have been thus far mistaken in requiring a * f definite cause for a definite effect . And if they have been herein mistaken , they may
also have been mistaken in requiringany cause at all for that Which they have denominated an effect ; since the same reasoning which has led them to the notion of a cause , has led them to © onceive of it as a definite energy , from which . a definite result proceeds .
To deny , then , tha ^ as < $ efinite eause is necessary to a definite effect , or what is the sBiiae thing , to delay that < a difference in the effect implies a Qifiference
in the cause , is to call m question the very " existence of a cause . The term , indeed , m&y be retained , but the only idea which we have of tbe , tiling is gone .
And whew the advocate of Liberty imagines < t power which can at the same time cause either of two different volitionsy , he deceives ,, hirfiself by a mere alvjjtfe ^ f lanj ^ iiage . A self-determining powetf ; then , is not only gratuitously
1 $ Mr . Cogan on the Question of Liberty and Necessity . - *
Then , as m this case the power of selfmotion has nothing to do with volition , but only acts in consequence of the determination of the will or the understandifigy it may be olismissed from the controversy , as having lio relation to . matter in dispute . " Hut , " says he , "
the act of volition be distinguished from the last judgment of the understanding , then the ttct of volition , or rather the beginning of action , consequent upon the last judgment of the understanding , in not determined or caused by that last judgment as the physical efficient ^ but only as the ntoral motive" If the last
judgment of the understanding causes the volitfo * * that is sufficient . By What name its operation shall he called , the Necessitarian will not J ) e very anxious to < ieterinjne . For what avails the distinction between the physical efficient , and the moral motive , if the volition in given' circumstances could not be different from wbat It is . ?
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Jan. 2, 1820, page 10, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2484/page/10/