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Scientists

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Max Born
Satyendra Nath Bose
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Leon Brillouin
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Henry Thomas Buckle
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Donald Campbell
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Jean-Pierre Changeux
Arthur Holly Compton
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Charles Darwin
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Presentations

Biosemiotics
Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
 
James Martineau

James Martineau was a descendant of French Huguenot refugees. He left the ministry to become a religious philosopher, teaching at the Unitarian seminary Manchester New College. Besides his teaching, he published many short articles on religion and ethics.

Martineau studied briefly at the new Humboldt University in Berlin, under the great Aristotelian philosopher Friedrich A. Trendelenberg, who quarreled with Kuno Fischer. Fischer was the originator of the "back to Kant" movement and famous for dividing philosophers into British empiricists (Locke, Berkeley, Hume) and continental rationalists (Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz).

For Trendelenberg, philosophical systems were dividable into the materialistic and the organic, the physical sciences and the biological sciences. The former trace back to Democritus and have only efficient causes, the latter to Aristotle and recognize the existence of final causes, purposes, which are the basis of ethics.

Martineau became intrested in Transcendentalism, and considered the American William Ellery Channing a mentor.

In his eighties, Martineau produced three books that summarized his thoughts, which by that time were greatly influenced by new ideas of science, especially Darwinian evolution. At that time, he was widely know around the world. Harvard awarded him an LL.D. in 1872, at which time he no doubt met some of the New England Transcendentalists, and very likely William James. Other advanced degrees were granted him by Edinburgh in 1884, Oxford in 1888 and Dublin in 1891.

Martineau attended meetings of the Metaphysical Club of London, as did Henry Sidgwick and George Croom Robertson (the first editor of Mind). When James was in London in 1882, he, Shadsworth Hodgson, and Robertson were members of the "Tramps," led by Leslie Stephen. James, and very likely Martineau, attended meetings of the then new Aristotelian Society.

William James knew Martineau's work well. He wrote to Robertson, from Chocorua on October 7, 1888, "I am teaching ethics and the philosophy of religion for the first time,with that dear old duffer Martineau's works as a text."

James cited Martineau in support of his theory of reasoning in his 1878 essay "Brute and Human Intellect."

Determinism and Free Will

In the third of his books, "The Seat of Authority in Religion," (a/k/a "A Study in Religion") published in 1888, Martineau speculated on Determinism and Free Will.
(Thanks to J.L.Speranza for finding this citation)

Hitherto I have been content, in treating of the grounds whether of Ethics or of Religion, to build upon the assumptions universally made by the consciousness of mankind; aiming only to interpret them accurately, and not attempting to verify them by criteria foreign to them- selves. Thus it was shown that the moral judgment which we pass upon ourselves for past conduct takes for granted that, in the moment of yielding to one of two competing solicitations, we might have preferred the other; and that the experience of contrition, the language of praise and blame, the sentiment of justice, the pleas of forgiveness, the reverence for higher virtue, all proceed upon the same belief, that we are not manufactured into good or bad, but, within a certain range of responsibility, are the authors of our own characters. Whether this belief is true, I did not then stop to enquire; but was satisfied to say, that either it was true, or moral judgment was impossible. So too, in the present work, both the lines of argument which have been followed start from the same intuitive assumption: the first in the form, that from the exercise of Will we know what Causality is, and apprehend that of God along with our own: the second in the form, that the authority of Duty is known to us as a relation between our own will as free, and that of a higher and supreme Being. Of that relation we are conscious as a trust, or command of alternative, better and worse, committed to us by a perfect righteousness. Beyond the appeal to self-consciousness, I have said nothing in support of these assumptions, on which the whole of both Ethics and Religion is staked. But this appeal is set aside on various ingenious pleas.

Our belief in our own independence arises merely, it is said, from a partial ignorance of the complex influences that mould our decisions, and when our inward history is all unfolded and laid bare, each volition will be found to have its place in a regular consecution of phenomena as uniform as those of physical nature, and as little open to the entrance of contingency. The antecedents which we bring into each posture of affairs being what they are, we can no more decide our problems except in one certain way, than water in a frost can refuse to become ice, or an acorn grow into an elm. The insecurity thus introduced into our conclusions it is impossible to leave unnoticed; and though I can add nothing to so old a controversy, it is incumbent on me so to pass it under review, as to explain why it does not disturb my faith in the principles of the foregoing reasonings.

Though the fascination of this unsolved problem arises chiefly from its profound connection with the very roots of our moral and spiritual convictions, and though, in all logical consistency, these convictions appear to me to stand or fall according to the answer which we give to it, I desire, as far as possible, to keep the weight of this issue at a distance from the discussion. The real life of men, even upon its inner side, is not shaped by philosophical systems, or moved forward on lines of consecutive logic; and, on either brink of the wide chasm of doctrine which we are about to survey, are seen not only individual champions, but gathered hosts, alike eminent for high-toned character and devoted piety; so that practical experience affords little ostensible support to Professor Sidgwick's opinion, that ethical interests are but slightly affected by our theory of the Will.

The advocates indeed on either side arrange themselves in most unexpected ranks. While the austere and lofty Stoic1, who makes the highest demands on self- command and self-sacrifice, asserts the reign of universal necessity, the prudential Epicurean2 insists upon free will, and makes his very atoms swerve in order to provide it.

In western Christendom, it is the Catholic Church alone, especially in its Dominican and Jesuit schools, that has saved any ability in man to obey the will of God ; while the Augustinian theology, whether sheltered in the Port Royal, or breaking forth into branches of the Reformation, has merged all human power in divine grace and fore-ordination. And, while the history of both is rich in examples of heroic and saintly goodness, an impartial observer, if asked to select and bring together a gallery of portraits marked with the lineaments of moral greatness, would probably search with the most hopeful eye through the camps of the Prince of Orange, of Coligny, of Gustavus Adolphus, and of Cromwell; for, whatever be the disproportion and aesthetic defects of the evangelical or Puritan type of character, in ethical vigour and religious elevation it certainly has no superior. If in Spinoza and Hobbes, in Diderot and Lamettrie, the doctrine of Determinism has formed part of an anti-theological mode of thought, it is presented, in the masterly vindications of Edwards and Priestley, as the essential life of true religion and implied principle of Christian society. Yet it has never long claimed a church- ascendency without encountering resistance from minds not less penetrating and devout than these: and in Cudworth, Butler, Clarke, Price, and Channing, the standard of revolt is once more raised against an almighty Absolutism, and the protest is renewed, that something of his own must be granted to man, if he is to be worth governing, and capable of any similitude to God. There is scarcely any variety of relation to theology which the doctrines described in this controversy are not found to assume ; and the remarkable feature recurs in each combination, that our problem plays in it no accidental part ; but, in spite of the contradictory religious conclusions, the opinion favoured, be it of Liberty or be it of Necessity, is regarded by its advocate as the essential premiss, and defended as the turning-point, of the whole scheme. As we are all liable, on entering this discussion, to become thus bewitched, it will not be charged upon me, I trust, as an exceptional sin, if I also am led to affirm the dependence on the doctrine which I vindicate of any clear authority attaching to either Conscience or Faith. I cannot avoid this, unless I keep back the very grounds of my own conversion from the philosophical creed in which I was early established by the writings of Hartley, Collins, and Priestley; and it will be no recantation of a reverence for them, if I point out some inconsistencies of which I have myself had occasion to repent.
What is the Question?
It is hardly possible to state the problem with which this controversy is concerned without employing terms on the meaning of which there exists a prior divergence. It might seem therefore an essential precaution to begin with a series of definitions, settling the exact contents of each conception involved in the question. It would be easy enough to do this. But no sooner should we have declared what we understand by Will, by Cause, by Motive, by Self, by Choice, by Freedom, by Necessity, than com- plaint would be made that we had begged the whole question in each definition; and we should have to discuss it over and over again upon every word. The two doctrines are the expression of entire schemes of thought which put a different interpretation upon everything in nature and life of which we have occasion to speak ; so that language, pushed by them to its ultimate analysis, ceases to be common to the two; and they cannot with advantage converse together.

Without further preface then I remark, that our enquiry concerns the originating cause of voluntary action; and is mainly this: whether in the exercise of Will (i.e., 'cases of choice' the mind is wholly determined by phenomenal antecedents and external conditions; or, itself also as active subject of these objective experiences, plays the part of determining Cause. Those who maintain the first branch of this alternative were called and called themselves 'Necessarians' because, under the assigned conditions, the sequence of one particular volition is, in their view, an inevitable event, not less so than the explosion of gunpowder on the application of a lighted match, or the fall of a slate blown off into free air from the roof of a house. Those, on the other hand, who maintain the second branch of the alternative were called and called themselves 'Libertarians' because they deemed it possible, in spite of the assigned conditions, for the mind not to will, or to will otherwise: it is not obliged to deliver itself over to a bespoken decision. It is obvious that these terms are the offspring of the dynamic conception of causation, in which effect is supposed to be linked with cause by some constraining objective tie, and not merely in the subjective certitude of our expectations: 'Necessity' denoting subjection to power; 'Liberty' immunity from it, with ability to use one's own.

The words have evidently come down to us from a date anterior to Hume's essay on 'necessary connection' or at least to the general acceptance of its doctrine by the English empirical philosophers. They are wholly out of place in a system which discharges all idea of Force, which abolishes the distinction between active and passive, and resolves Causality into constancy of time-relation between successive phenomena: where nothing has power to produce or to control another, and each change must be content to play the part of sign to what comes next, there is no room for measurements of resistance or claims of freedom.

It is not therefore surprising that J. S. Mill should complain of this language, as leaving a false impression of at least his own position against the pretensions of free will. He does not mean to tell you anything so disagreeable as that you are coerced or constrained to this or that particular volition; not the slightest force is put upon you; it is only that, as an observer of the antecedents, he is sure that nothing else will follow: 'whether it must do so,' he says, 'I acknowledge myself to be entirely ignorant;' ... 'all I know is, that it always does.' 1

This is Mill's "incubus" of determinism that Ted Honderich calls a "black thing"
No sooner however do you feel the relief of having this incubus lifted off, than you learn, with some little chagrin, that he no less removes it from the material world,2 and assures the weight in the scale that in its descent there is no necessity, but only a sequence; so that the exemption from Force is impartial, and though you are no more, you are also no less, helplessly brought to your volition, than the wave to the beach and the hail to the ground. Mill ascribes3 the common repugnance to his doctrine 'almost entirely' to its use of this 'extremely inappropriate term 'Necessity' carrying in it as it does the idea of some 'mysterious compulsion' or 'irresistibleness'; and thinks that, if it had insisted only on invariable uniformity of succession, its truth and innocence would have been generally acknowledged.
Martineau asks about the beginnings of voluntary actions, and like William James, ascribes them to accidents. Those accidents become experiences that are alternative possibilities for later actions, according to James. Alexander Bain explains the child's imitative tendency in terms of the Hartley notion of association. But Martineau (as does James) says random accidents are the origin and "initiatives from within" the agent, and Martineau develops a two-stage model, with spontaneity in the first stage and volition in the second, much like the James model and our Cogito model.
When once beyond these questionable beginnings of voluntary action, Bain's analysis of its ulterior growth is in a high degree acute and instructive; and needs only one or two slight additions or modifications to account satisfactorily for the gradual extension of our control over action and thought. One of these additions seems to be required in his explanation of the imitative tendency, which plays so important a part in all our training, and especially in the acquisition of language. The theory is that the vocal muscles, in spontaneous exercise, accidentally produce a particular syllable, — as ba: the audible impression which follows is thus associated with the muscular feeling involved in the act, — an association which is strengthened perhaps by the by-standers taking up the sound. The first time, the connection may be as yet too feeble to be of much avail; but after it has occurred a few times, it will become firm; and then, if the sound falls upon the ear, it will excite the voice to reproduce it.' 1 This however is more than will follow from the Hartleyan law; for that law provides only for sequences of sensation, movement, and idea, in the same order in which they originally occurred, and here the order is inverted; and how little 'association' helps us to this we may learn by simply trying to say the alphabet backwards. Bain is not unconscious of this difficulty; but seems to think that associations have only to be strong enough, and they will read both ways. Any one who will endeavour to reverse his most familiar actions, for instance, to write or spell backwards, or conjugate a foreign verb in the inverse order of tenses, numbers and persons, may satisfy himself that this is an error. On supplying an omitted link, we escape the difficulty. The infant, in common with many young animals, has a tendency to repeat, immediately and over and over again, a movement once performed. Whether we regard the tendency as original, or say that the active energy having taken a particular channel works in it more easily than in a changed one, the fact is indisputable, and cannot be regarded as a case of self-imitation, anticipating as it does all signs of any mimetic propensity: one stroke of the little arm, one spring of the legs, is followed by another; and so, a syllable, once flung out, is sure to come again with more or less of iteration. Every natural cry indeed is in itself continuous, i.e. a prolonged vowel; and when it is intersected by the appulses or pressure of parts muscularly agitated, — lips, tongue, larynx, — the continuity is broken into repetition by consonantal arrest of its regular flow ; and thus are the first syllables produced. But, in every repeated act consisting of two terms, each type of term precedes the other; so that in the series A, B, A, B, etc., A no more takes the lead of B than B of A; if the muscular feeling of the vocal organs becomes in association the prior of the sound, so does the sound become prior to the muscular feeling; and either may excite the other. The sound however may be made by others; and when the child, hearing it thus, reproduces it, his lessons in imitation have begun. Rewarded by pleasant signs of encouragement, and helped by growing discoveries of what he can do with his machinery of noise, they soon supply him with new acquisitions; in gaining which, however, he could never reject his failures, or even be conscious of them, without attention to his experiments, and a frequent renewal of his tentative efforts; and these are already acts of intelligent will. There is a comparison between the sound which he misses and that which he makes, — a comparison which the phenomena cannot perform upon one another, but which he performs upon the two as related; and there is a direction of effort, more or less awkward, to avoid the one and make the other; a direction, other than that of the spontaneity which it aims to deflect.

There is an initiative from within which deals with both the 'impression' from without and the memory of the past, and uses them as materials for fresh attainments. In the case of speech, where the mechanism is too remote or delicate for parent or nurse to reach, the training of voluntary control must be mainly self-originated, though invited. In other cases, as in learning to clap the hands, the process may be aided for the child by guiding his arms, provided you leave the active operation, as much as possible, to him, and only prevent its going astray; so as to let the succession of muscular feelings fall into the right track. I have said that, throughout these processes, the initiative is from within; but, though this is essential, it is not enough, to make them voluntary.

J.L.Speranza found Martineau describing a two-stage model of free will
Mere spontaneity, be it ever so 'random,' is also from within; and so are routine movements of instinct on its one line; and Will does not come into play till the attempt to control the spontaneity and make it do this and not that i.e. till there is some selection^ and among possible strokes only one is a hit: whoever can exclude the wrong and direct himself upon the right exercises voluntary power.

I am the more anxious to emphasize this selective or preferential function of will, because it is partly slurred, partly denied by many modem psychologists, and the means are thus lost of distinguishing instinct and habit from volition.

In Bain's illustrations of our growth in voluntary power, it is indeed indirectly implied: we learn, he says, to 'single out' the proper movements, to 'determine specific actions,' to bring about a 'successful coincidence,' and from among 'ideal representations of all possible movements' to perform some desired one.1 But the significance of this unavoidable language is so far from fixing his attention, that he totident verbis excludes its meaning from his definition of voluntary action; the specialty of which, he tells us, is 'that the antecedent and the consequent are conscious or mental states (coupled of course with bodily states); when a sentient creature is conscious of a pleasure or pain, real or ideal, and follows that up with a conscious exercise of its muscles, we have the fact of volition' :

Speranza sees this as the temporal sequence in the two-stage model of free will
'the two phenomena are successive in time, the feeling first, the movement second.' 'Not unfrequently two, three, or four feelings occur together, conspiring or conflicting with one another ; and then the action is not what was wont to follow one feeling by itself ^^ According to this account, an animal urged upon action by any single feeling is exercising will, though there be no 'singling out,' no comparison, no exclusion, but only a rush forward upon a straight line: in this limitation of it Bain sees nothing to distinguish the case essentially from those in which conflict and deliberation may be present on the accident of there being more ends or means than one, or only one; and if it be present, it is a mere intellectual judgment upon compared prior conditions, and precedes the act of willing, which is confined to the effort at execution.2 His opinion is sustained by the authority of Mr. Sidgwick, who thinks that 'no clear line can be drawn' between actions 'originated unconsciously,' i. e. from instinctive impulse, and those which are 'conscious and voluntary." And it is carried to its utmost extent by Mr. Hazard in his treatise on 'Freedom of Mind in Willing'; which abolishes all distinction, except in degree, between the human and the brute faculties, and treats the instinct of the beaver or the ant as a case of Will realizing a single end through intelligence knowing a single means, while our larger wants supply us with a plurality of ends, and wider intelligence reveals to us a variety of means.3 In conformity with this identification of all action with Will and all skill with intellect, he dispenses with choice as an element of volition: whether it is present or not depends on the accident of there being more ends or means than one, or only one; and if it be present, it is a mere intellectual judgment upon compared prior conditions, and precedes the act of willing, which is confined to the effort at execution. I cannot reconcile myself to a use of language which identifies phenomena so unlike as the blind instinct of the caterpillar and the foreseeing and discriminating intellect of man: and which separates processes so allied, nay blended, as the moral choice of the higher principle of action and the moral effort to give it effect. Though we cannot plant the line exactly between animal skill and human intelligence, and can mark the former only by negative suggestion, it is impossible to doubt that the exclusions thus made are in the main well founded ; and that you cannot attribute to the insect, to the salmon, and to the migratory bird, a knowledge of what they are about, of the future, even posthumous, offspring they are providing for, of the distant latitudes they seek, and the relation between the ends they pursue and the methods adopted for their attainment This absence of knowledge from operations which we could perform only by means of it, needs to be marked by some distinctive term ; and in calling them instinctive as opposed to voluntary^ we mean to claim for the latter precisely the elective and foreseeing element which characterizes self-conscious agency. If a preconceived end and a selection of means are not necessary to volition, then, within the scope of conscious nature, there is no such thing as involuntary action; and, to find it, we shall have to pass into the mechanism of the material world. If we assume and take into consideration the Divine Will, all movement is voluntary. If we omit this consideration as transcendental, the question arises, how are the movements taken up which it relinquishes? Is it by one category, — like mechanicaly — covering all that is not claimed by finite wills? — or by two categories, — the mechanicaly for insentient things, and the automatic, for simply sentient; — leaving the voluntary for the more than sentient, the self-conscious and reflectively intelligent? Surely this triad is the only natural expression of differences which insist on taking the lead in our view of the world under its active and passive aspects. The last head alone gives us a complete causality, carrying its own directing power. The first gives us only imparted or transmitted changes through passive media that only hand them on (as the first law of motion itself asserts). The second gives us an intermediate order of facts, viz. the latter half of causal action without the first, — the conscious execution of an absent directing Idea ; the idea being at once undeniable, and yet not predicable of the creature itself, but left out in the transcendental sphere, to be claimed by Nature or by God. This classification, adopted by the common sense of mankind and incorporated in current language, there is nothing in our later knowledge to disturb ; and we may rest content with the definitions of Locke and Edwards, who both of them regard Choice as the characteristic of Will.1
The central question is how the second-stage will determines which of the first-stage alternatives
By thus limiting the range of Will to the function of determining an alternative we dispense with those earlier stages of the Hartleyan psychology in which single lines of associated feelings, ideas, and movements are formed by closing up their links; and we take up the problem at the point where first two co-present tendencies conflict. There it is that the hinge of our whole question is found.

Prior to this, we may allow the law of association its claim to connect sensation, conception, and movement, and to make action dependent on suggested ideas: we are perfectly familiar with this process in the training of skill and the formation of habit; — a process exactly the same as that of learning by heart, and exemplified also in the breaking-in of an animal. Here, in this passage from the 'automatic' to the 'secondarily automatic' or habitual, there is one definitely given path to be traced and smoothed, and no alternative presents itself except in the form, at once universal and negative, of the aU else that is to be excluded; so that the only entrance which Will can make is in the shape of attention, warding off the intrusion of lateral disturbance, and securing for each step the determination of the next. In this function, the Will only stands sentinel at the outposts to let the files be rightly formed within, and does not mix with them and direct them, so as to render them properly voluntary.

Even habitual actions can be regarded as voluntary because the Will can always veto them
And when once the connections have been strongly riveted, we regard an habitual action as no less involuntary than one that is instinctive; and though, in both cases, we may hold the agent responsible for it, it is because, while not issued by his will, it was preventible by it. If it conflicts with some higher principle of action which ought to have been present, the cohesive force of habit will not excuse it; choice holding a perpetual veto against mechanism. Leaving these cases of transition from automatism to habit, let us fix our attention on the point where the line of usual association bifurcates into alternative possibilities. Suppose that you suffer under some calumny, admitting disproof; your natural course would be, to give the exculpating statement But if in doing so you must cast a shadow on some fair name, or embitter some precious friendship, your impulse will be arrested by a resistance equally natural. Consider what takes place in deciding this conflict; for a true analysis of the process gives the solution of our problem. The elements which are present are (i) two incompatible springs of action, the desire to save your own credit, and the desire to save that of others; and (2) what I will call your own Past i.e. a certain formed system of habits and dispositions brought from your previous use of life. The former head comprises the motives that are offered; the latter, the character that has come to be. Do these settle the matter between them? Is the character the arena on which the play, or rather the war, of the motives fights itself out, and is the volition the flash of the stronger sword? Or, inverting the parts of active and passive, shall we say that the past character, instead of lying still and being influenced by the triumphant motive, comes in as umpire between them, giving the ascendency to that which is the more consonant with itself? Or, is our account of what is there still incomplete ; and must we admit that, besides the motives felt, and besides our formed habits or past self, there is also a present self that has a part to perform in reference to both? Is there not a Causal self, over and above the caused self, or rather the caused state and contexts of the self left as a deposit from previous behaviour? Is there not a judging self, that knows and weighs the competing motives, over and above the agitated self that feels them? The impulses are but phenomena of your experience ; the formed habits are but a condition and attitude of your consciousness, in virtue of which you feel this more and that less: both are predicates of yourself as subject, but are not yourself, and cannot be identified with your personal agency. On the contrary, they are objects of your contemplation; they lie before you to be known, compared, estimated; they are your data; and you have not to let them alone to work together as they may, but to deal with them, as arbiter among their tendencies. In all cases of self-consciousness and self-action there is necessarily this duplication of the Ego into the objective^ that contains the felt and predicated phenomena at which we look or may look, and the subjective, that apprehends and uses them. It is with the latter that the preferential power and personal causality reside; it is this that we mean when we say that 'it rests with us to decide, that' our impulses are not to be our masters, that 'guilty habit cannot be pleaded in excuse for guilty act.' If this distinction be lost sight of, and the word Self be used exclusively of the objective and phenomenal, the essence of the personality is erased, and nothing remains, in the absence of any cause which can settle an alternative, but to deny the alternative, contrive that one of its terms shall slink away, and leave the field to a linear series of jointed phenomena. No one denies that, with alterations in their data, i.e. in the intensity of our impulses and in the acquired cast of our habit and temper, the problems of right action become more or less difficult and weighted by temptation and, in formerly treating of the principles of Ethics, I have endeavoured to reduce these variations to definite rules. But, short of mania, they do not go so far as to usurp the whole causality for the mere conditions and the deciding Ego of a rational self-consciousness will never allow that it is obliged to follow the importunities of its feeling; will insist, on the contrary, that it can command them.

I have mentioned that, while Bain rests the determinist case on the necessary connection between motive and volition, Mr. Shadworth Hodgson prefers to emphasize the necessary connection between the formed character and the volition : and I must not neglect the argfument of so acute a metaphysician. He presents it as a comment on the following words of a Libertarian writer : * I feel, when I have done wrong, that I have done something / could have avoided, — the accusation of conscience directed against that which I mean when I speak of myself/ * Admirably stated/ says Mr. Hodgson, * first expressing our sense of freedom in choosing, and then giving the interpretation of that sense, viz. (in the case of wrong-doing), the moral reproach against the Self as agent. Now I say that all the Determinist theory is therein contained. The reproach is ultimately against the agent [he means, as distingfuished from the act]. The agent gives rise to the act of choice, not the act to the agent ; the act flows from, presupposes, and is evidence of, the character of the agent We reproach ourselves for being such agents as to choose the good so feebly, or the bad so readily. We accept the responsibility of what we are^ as evidenced by what we choose : and in this our moral responsibility consists.* He then proceeds to argfue that if you make the responsibility depend on a supposed power, irrespective of character, to choose differently, you dissolve the connection between act and character, and practically treat the agent as characterless at the moment of action : and then his choice expresses nothing, and is destitute of moral quality. *The whole validity,' he concludes, *of moral responsibility depends on the necessary connection between the character of the agent and the character of his act 1 '.

Martineau opposed the "Necessarians" who thought all "voluntary" action was necessarily and mechanically determined by the agent's character and motives.

If my past alone predetermines my future, having settled both the motives that shall be suggested and the reception which I shall give to them, I in the present have no part or lot in the matter, except to play the stepping-stone of transition from the one to the other; and the doctrine which involves such an utter collapse of the sense of personality appears to me self-condemned. Here it is that we touch the hinge of the whole question : whether we are, or whether we have and partly produce, the phenomena of our own life. If we are nothing but the growing sum-total of them thus far, then the next term in the series is given by the preceding. But if, instead of our equivalents, they are only our predicates, they express, without exhausting, an essence and power behind them, which may betake itself to other modes of manifestation. I submit that the consciousness of self, as an identical personality, is the consciousness of such power ; and that no one can sincerely deem himself incapable by nature of controlling his impulses and modifying his acquired character. That he is able to make them the objects of examination, comparison, and estimate, places him in a judicial and authoritative attitude towards them, and would have no meaning if he were not to decide what influence they should have. The casting vote and verdict upon the offered motives is with him, and not with themselves; he is 'free' to say 'Yes' or 'No' to any of their suggestions: they are the conditions of the act; he is its Agent. In the typical case of inward conflict which I have supposed, between your sensitiveness to unjust reproach and your tenderness for others' reputation, you do not let yourself sway to and fro with the varying fling of the motives upon your character, like a floating log on an advancing and retreating wave; but address yourself to an active handling of their pretensions; and deciding that the care for repute, however vehement, is lower than the sympathy, however calm, you force yourself to obey the better claim. You yourself, as a personal centre of intelligence and causality, are at the head of the transaction, and determine how it shall go; though doubtless what you have been about in the past, and what you feel in the present, enter subordinately into the problem as its avowed data or its tacit aspects.

To the force of this inward assurance Professor Sidgwick, though almost borne down by the arguments on the other side, has put on record the following emphatic testimony : —

'This almost overwhelming cumulative proof seems, however, more than balanced by a single argument on the other side; the immediate affirmation of consciousness in the moment of deliberate volition.'

'It is impossible for me to think, at each moment, that my volition is completely determined by my formed character and motives acting upon it. The opposite conviction is so strong as to be absolutely unshaken by the evidence brought against it. I cannot believe it to be illusory. So far it is unlike the erroneous intuitions which occur in the exercise of the senses ; as, for instance, the mis-perceptions of sight or hearing. For experience soon teaches me to regard these as appearances whose suggestions are misleading ; but no amount of experience of the sway of motives even tends to make me distrust my intuitive consciousness that in resolving after deliberation I exercise free choice as to which of the motives acting upon me shall prevail. Nothing short of absolute proof that this consciousness is erroneous could overcome the force with which it announces itself as certain^*.

It is right to add that subsequent reflection seems to have reduced this firm and sharp-cut judgment to a more yielding condition; on its re-appearance in more recent editions of the Methods of Ethics, it shows evident symptoms of incipient melting away. But still, in the third edition, it makes again a modest assertion of its rights : * Certainly, in the case of actions in which I have distinct consciousness of choosing between alternatives of conduct, one of which I conceive as right or reasonable, I find it impossible not to think that I can now choose to do what I so conceive, however strong may be my inclination to act unreasonably, and however uniformly I may have yielded to such inclinations in the past ^ *.

It is not, however, to be supposed that the empirical psychologists have not an account to give of this consciousness of elective power : and their exposition must be compared with the foregoing. They all agree in dispensing with any contribution to the result from the present selfy over and above what is furnished by the two other factors ; and undertake to account for each volition from the play of the motives upon the habits and dispositions formed in the past. Of these conjoint conditions, either may be announced as determining the volition : Mr. Shadworth Hodgson1 prefers to treat it as consequent upon the character^ \ Bain, more in conformity with usage, regards it as the resultant of the combinations of motives. Neither has the least intention to ignore the unnamed condition; and the different language merely indicates the element ascendent, and tacitly endowed with activity, in the mind of each.

Martineau reviewed the positions of many of his contemporaries (e.g., Henry Sidgwick, Shadsworth Hodgson, Alexander Bain) on "voluntary" action. Following his description of his own position above, he quotes Henry Sidgwick, in his Method in Ethics, as supporting his view

"This almost overwhelming cumulative proof seems, however, more than balanced by a single argument on the other side; the immediate affirmation of consciousness in the moment of deliberate volition. It is impossible for me to think, at each moment, that my volition is completely determined by my formed character and motives acting upon it. The opposite conviction is so strong as to be absolutely unshaken by the evidence brought against it. I cannot believe it to be illusory. So far it is unlike the erroneous intuitions which occur in the exercise of the senses; as, for instance, the mis-perceptions of sight or hearing. For experience soon teaches me to regard these as appearances whose suggestions are misleading; but no amount of experience of the sway of motives even tends to make me distrust my intuitive consciousness that in resolving after deliberation I exercise free choice as to which of the motives acting upon me shall prevail. Nothing short of absolute proof that this consciousness is erroneous could overcome the force with which it announces itself as certain."

By comparison, Shadsworth Hodgson thinks character determines the actions and Alexander Bain thinks the action is simply the resultant of the play of motives upon the habits and dispositions of the past.

Mr. Shadworth Hodgson prefers to treat it as consequent upon the character. Bain, more in conformity with usage, regards it as the resultant of the combinations of motives. Neither has the least intention to ignore the unnamed condition; and the different language merely indicates the element ascendent, and tacitly endowed with activity, in the mind of each. In bringing the case of Choice under the rule that the strongest motive always prevails. Bain represents the so-called chooser as passively at the mercy of the objects that offer themselves; each has a certain attraction; and that which has the greatest carries the day and gives him his volition. When this happens at once it shows that there is no approach to equality in the strength of the attractions, but that one has a decisive preponderance. When, on the other hand, there is an interval of suspense, it is because the motives are nearly balanced and are trying their strength till the weaker are driven from the field; or else that, in view of the evils of precipitate action,
J.L.Speranza compares this to the Libet veto
a 'deliberative veto is in exercise,' till the opposing solicitations have been sufficiently compared; when this arrest is withdrawn, the volition rides in on the back of the victorious motive. You may call this Self-determination if you mean by Self 'only' what is resolvable into motive, and consent to define it as the 'sum of the feelings' that 'impel the conduct, together with the various activities impelled'; for thus you do but vary the phraseology, still claiming the causality for the motives, though referring to the particular motives of the present case only under cover of the sum-total of motives called 'Self.'

But if, under this word, you think of any entity that meddles with the phenomena, or turns them into anything more than antecedents and sequents of the regular sort, and mingles with them that 'mystical' fiction named 'Power,' you confuse the phenomenon of volition by thrusting into it an illusory element^ In this exposition, let us consider (i) the fundamental maxim that, among conflicting motives (defined as 'pleasures and pains in prospect'), the strongest must prevail. If this proposition is to have any meaning, and be susceptible of verification, there must be some common measure of motives, enabling us to set them on a graduated scale of strength, and say 'this is weaker than that, and here is the weakest of all' Yet it is confessed that we have no such measure; Bain himself saying that 'the only test of strength of motive* is that the volition follows. That it is so, you may readily convince yourself by trying to arrange the motives which you have rejected in the order of their relative strength; you will find it utterly impossible to do so. Even kindred inducements that may come into rivalry, a visit to a picture-gallery, and a skating-excursion, and a ride on the downs, may prove incommensurable; and when the range takes in quite dissimilar ends, addressing themselves to different parts of our nature, some prudential, some sympathetic, some moral, the common application to them of terms of quantity becomes simply ridiculous. How am I to balance the 'attractions' of a festive evening among friends in health against those of the same hours given to a friend in dejection and sorrow? or of attendance upon him in infectious fever against those of security to my own life? or of a new carpet against those of helping a church or an hospital into existence? I might as well compare my sensibilities in eating a lobster- salad and in reading an epic poem. The Will has to live and move among objects which, in their pleasurable or painful aspects, are perfectly heterogeneous, and no more measure themselves by one common standard than light, weight, and electricity by the thermometer. If it is said that all these, in spite of their differences, have in this respect the same feature, that they are susceptible of more or less intensity; and that, through whatever channel they may enter our consciousness, they will report themselves there with corresponding degrees of excitement,it may still be doubted whether we can tell, in the case of different senses and affections, all susceptible of degrees of stimulation, what excitements are equivalent or to what extent they miss equivalence. But, waiving this doubt, we may surely affirm that, in our inward conflicts, it is by no means the motive most intensely felt and most exciting, that wins our volition. Often a vehement passion may be controlled by the mere tranquil memory of a resolve quite distasteful to us at the moment. What else indeed do we mean when we speak of the frequent opposition of inclination and duty? If therefore by 'strength of motive' be meant its felt intensity, and, if it denotes a quality at all, this is the only possible sense), the proposition that the volition follows the strongest motive is false. If, as Bain admits, the only test of greatest strength is in the victory, we are simply landed on the tautology, that the prevailing motive prevails.

Martineau attacks Bain's idea that a 'Self' is something mystical above and beyond a collection of motives

The account given of delayed choice I find unintelligible on Bain's theory. The suspense, he tells us, is evidence that the opposite motives are nearly balanced ; and time is occupied in trying their relative strength. How do they manage this experiment? What is going on during this pause ? He does not reveal the secret. It is a battle in the dark; or behind the scenes, as in the classic drama, that lets no horrors come upon the stage: all we know is that, at last, the door is opened, and

J.L.Speranza compares this to stage two in a two-stage model
the volition, stepping into the daylight, reports which is the victor and which is the slain. I have often been conscious of incompatible motives, but never of their behaving themselves in this way, and presuming to settle their quarrels on my field and without my intervention, and even to make me the prize for whose captivity they fought. If there be several of them, have they to try it all round, in a succession of single combats, till the last survivor can go off with me unmolested ? That the period of suspense should work itself out in this way without betraying the transaction is inconceivable. But Bain offers us an alternative explanation : it may be that the time is spent in using judgment, instead of experimenting on strength: the 'deliberative veto' may be applied to stay decision, until the several motives have been surveyed, compared, and estimated at their value; and then withdrawn, to let the winner have its way. But Who exercises and withdraws this veto? Who compares and appraises the clamorous impulses ? As there is no ^Self^ irresolvable into motive^ there is nothing but the motives themselves to do the 'deliberation,' the 'veto,' the 'comparison,' and then put an end to it all. If it be said that the 'Self' which deliberates is indeed a sum-total of feelings, impulses, and acts, but those of the whole previous life, and not the mere group of the immediate crisis, so that it is the 'formed character' up to date which examines and appreciates the solicitations of the moment; I reply with two remarks:

(a) A sum-total of feelings, impulses, &c. cannot deliberate, any more than each feeling and impulse separately, but only a Mind that has them: nor is that mind superseded by any particular condition or 'formed character ' to which it may have been brought, so as to surrender to it the work of comparison and estimation. The habits contracted in the past may improve or deteriorate the mind's capacity for right judgment, but cannot take its place.

(b) Deliberation as to an impending act assumes that no one of the motives on the field is predetermined victor in virtue of its superior 'strength': for, if it were so, the suspense on which we are insisting would be illusory : in the state of character as defined by the past, and the relative force of the motive, the conditions of the volition are already complete. The very fact therefore that we pause and compare implies that consciousness repudiates the determinist assumption, and recognises a tribunal with jurisdiction over the pleas of motive and habit, and em- powered to open new lines, and set new precedents, of Right.

In order to avoid recognising this personal causality, Bain supplies yet another meaning of the word 'Self,' besides that of the collection of *'motives,' and that of the hitherto formed character. It sometimes is used to mark my 'permanent interests' as distinguished from 'temporary solicitations' : and 'self-determination' means no more than that my idea of the former moves me more than my feeling of the latter: but this in no wise disturbs the law of the strongest or the necessary sequence of volition on motive, by introducing any agency beyond these phenomena: it simply classifies my motives using the word 'Self' as a name for the 'ideal' ones. He adds that 'to neutralize, by internal resources, the fleeting actualities of pleasure and pain, is a great display of moral power.' Two brief comments comprise what I have to say on this phase of the doctrine, {a) That 'Self' means something 'permanent' as opposed to what is transient, there can be no doubt; and therefore self-determination is certainly the ascendency of the permanent. But permanent what? Is it merely the more durable, that is, frequently recurrent, among the phenomena, as contrasted with the fleeting and occasional? Am I myself in my digestion, and not in my toothache? By no means : the 'Self' is not some of our phenomena but the Subject of them all: and it is the continuity and identity of this subject that make 'permanence' predicable of it, and not predicable of anything that happens in it: a self constitutes a permanent: but a permanent order repeated does not constitute a self. Self-determination therefore is not determination of some phenomena by others, but of phenomena by a subject, (b) So irresistibly do we feel this that Bain himself cannot state his case without confessing it. While reducing the whole inward life, voluntary no less than involuntary, to a mere time- order of sequence, and denouncing the words 'Will' and 'Power' as mischievous 'expletives,' serving as nests of dynamic illusion, and fostering the idea of some 'mystical or fictitious agency, other than the occurrence of the antecedent phenomenon, he yet tells us that 'to neutralize, by internal resources, the fleeting actualities of pleasure and pain, is a great display of moral power.' What is 'moral power,' if there be no such thing as power at all and the word is a misleading 'pleonasm'? Who displays it? is it the sequences? Who neutralizes the fleeting solicitations, by command of 'internal resources'? Is it the ideas of something less fleeting? or are these just the 'internal resources' by means of which the thing is done? Who then uses these means, finding them among his 'internal resources'? The author has evidently slipped into phraseology more sensible than his doctrine, and having no intelligible meaning except on the assumption of that 'mystical agency' which he denies. And so does he again when he says * The collective "I" or self can be nothing different from the feelings, actions, intelligence, of the individual,' If I am only a collection, I am a divided aggregate : if I am an 'individual, I am a unit not divisible; and the collection of feelings, &c. is not myself, but belongs to myself, the many in the one.

Martineau finds Bain analyzing the "spontaneous" (Greek ἀυτόματον) element in "self-determination."
One more attempt to take its meaning out of the phrase 'self-determination' is made by Bain. He tells us that 'Spontaneity' is synonymous with it : that is, in com- parison with action propelled or induced from without, any that springs up of itself from within may be regarded as 'self-determined,' that is, functional to the nature of the being and provided for out of its resources. When restricted to the voluntary acts of human beings, the word would denote the absence from them of any external pressure or prompting by others: as when a person unsuspected comes forward and confesses a past crime. Undoubtedly, both words, 'spontaneity' and 'self-determination,' denote action from within: but there is a difference between them which Bain overlooks: spontaneity denotes action from within in the absence of any counter forces or irrespective of them: self-determination, in their known presence and in spite of them. The latter word is never used except to claim for the Ego a jurisdiction over the solicitations to action whencesoever presented; and we do not employ it to mark merely that the agent has no accomplices in his inducements. In no way can this term be appropriated by the Necessarian: it expresses precisely the relation between the motives and the personality which he desires to disprove.

I have mentioned that, while Bain rests the determinist case on the necessary connection between motive and volition, Mr. Shadworth Hodgson prefers to emphasize the necessary connection between the formed character and the volition : and I must not neglect the argument of so acute a metaphysician.

Libertarians feel they could have done otherwise
He presents it as a comment on the following words of a Libertarian writer: 'I feel, when I have done wrong, that I have done something I could have avoided, — the accusation of conscience directed against that which I mean when I speak of myself.' Admirably stated, says Mr. Hodgson, first expressing our sense of freedom in choosing, and then giving the interpretation of that sense, viz. (in the case of wrong-doing), the moral reproach against the Self as agent. Now I say that all the Determinist [Martineau means acts as self-determined, not radical libertarian free, ed.] theory is therein contained. The reproach is ultimately against the agent [he means, as distinguished from the act]. The agent gives rise to the act of choice, not the act to the agent; the act flows from, presupposes, and is evidence of, the character of the agent. We reproach ourselves for being such agents as to choose the good so feebly, or the bad so readily. We accept the responsibility of what we are as evidenced by what we choose: and in this our moral responsibility consists. He then proceeds to argue that if you make the responsibility depend on a supposed power, irrespective of character, to choose differently, you dissolve the connection between act and character, and practically treat the agent as characterless at the moment of action : and then his choice expresses nothing, and is destitute of moral quality. 'The whole validity,' he concludes, 'of moral responsibility depends on the necessary connection between the character of the agent and the character of his act I understand this to mean that if the act were free and wrong the reproach would be directed against it: but, since it is the necessary result of the agents character, the reproach is directed against himself It would draw reproach, if free : it escapes it, through being necessary. Reproach therefore goes only with freedom ; and could not be transferred to the self but in the consciousness that the self was free. How could we * reproach ourselves for being such agents,' how * accept the responsibility of what we arel if our * being such,* were not our own doing, but were, like the immediate act, the inevitable fruit of the retreating antecedents back to our nativity? Granting that from the character as it is nothing but this act could come, still, in upbraiding that character, I certainly exempt it from a like necessity, and assume that I could have determined it into a better form : else, I should as soon feel compunction for a hump-back or a squint The Determinist, if he cares for it, may have the act : for, so much the more, in order to interpret the self-reproach, must he leave free the character. It is the abuse of a prior liberty that has brought us under the present necessity.

And here it is well to observe the ambiguity that lurks in the word * character.' In order to work the determinist theory, that is, to refer the volition wholly to its antecedent phenomenal conditions, it ought to mean my collection of inward and outward habits gathered in the past : these it is which are affirmed to be, under the offered motives, the necessary determinants of my act. But these are not all that we usually intend to cover by the word * Self I or the word ^ character^ when employed as its equivalent: we think, not merely of a manufactured Ego, the resultant of its own experiences and therefore changing through their course, but of a permanent self-identical Ego living through all, responsible now for what it is because responsible all through for what it does. And when we say that an act gives evidence of the character, we mean, not that it is retrospective and reveals the past and established habits, but that it shows us the kind of use which the living Ego makes of its freedom. If the act were perfectly fresh, unencumbered by any antecedent acquired tendencies, it would express one of the mind's preferences, and so far tell us what it is and what it is not. The 'character' thus reported to us includes the Will; and so, while determining the act, leaves room for self-determination.

On the whole then, I submit, the empirical psychology does not dispose of our consciousness of personal causation, or succeed in reducing us to a theatre of felt antecedents and sequents. There remains the indelible conviction that we are not bound hand and foot by either our present incentives or our own past : but that, drag as they may, a power remains with us to make a new beginning along another path than theirs. It is matter only that moves out of the past: all mind acts for the future : and though that future operates through the preconception of it which is earlier than the act, and so might seem to conform to the material order, yet, where two or more rival preconceptions enter the field together, they cannot compare themselves inter se: they need and meet a superior: it rests with the mind itself to decide. The decision will not be unmotived for it will have its reasons. It will not be unconformable to the characteristics of the mind, for it will express its preferences. But none the less is it issued by a free Cause that elects among the conditions, and is not elected by them. For what can be more absurd than to say, because an intelligent and moral agent is careful to bring his actions into correspondence with the conditions available for bettering the future, that they and not he must be credited with the causation? If the conditions were different, the decision would no longer be the same, precisely because the mind is free to appreciate its problem and conform to its terms, by making the best of the possibilities it supplies.

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Notes

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Bibliography

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