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The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man

Friedrich Schiller

Theory of Colours

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The Bhagavad Gita


Freedom of the will

by Jonathan Edwards


By determining the will, if the phrase be used with any meaning, must be intended, causing that the act of the will or choice should be thus, and not otherwise: and the will is said to be determined, when in consequence of some action, or influence, its choice is directed to, and fixed upon, a particular object. As when we speak of the determination of motion, we mean causing the motion of the body to be such a way, or in such a direction, rather than another.

To talk of the determination of the will, supposes an effect, which must have a cause. If the will be determined, there is a determiner. This must be supposed to be intended even by them that say, the will determines itself. But if it be as they say, the will is both determiner and determined, it is a cause that acts and produces effects upon itself, and is the object of its own influence and action.

With respect to that grand inquiry—what determines the will—it would be very tedious and unnecessary at present to enumerate and examine all the various opinions, which have been advanced concerning the matter; nor is it needful that I should enter into a particular disquisition of all points debated in disputes on that question—whether does the will always follow the last dictate of the understanding? It is sufficient to my present purpose to say—it is that motive, which, as it stands in the view of the mind, is the strongest, that determines the will. But it may be necessary that I should a little explain my meaning in this.

By motive, I mean the whole of that which moves, excites, or invites the mind to volition, whether that be one thing singly, or many things conjunctly. Many particular things may concur and unite their strength to induce the mind; and when it is so, all together are, as it were, one complex motive. And when I speak of the strongest motives I have respect to the strength of the whole that operates to induce to a particular act of volition, whether that be the strength of one thing alone, or of many together.

Whatever is a motive, in this sense, must be something that is extant in the view or apprehension of the understanding, or perceiving faculty. Nothing can induce or invite the mind to will or act any thing, any further than it is perceived, or is some way or other in the mind's view; for what is wholly unperceived, and perfectly out of the mind's view, cannot affect the mind at all. It is most evident, that nothing is in the mind, or reaches it, or takes any hold of it, any otherwise than as it is perceived or thought of.

And I think it must also be allowed by all, that every thing that is properly called a motive, excitement, or inducement to a perceiving willing agent, has some sort and degree of tendency, Or advantage to move or excite the will, previous to the effect, or to the act of the will excited. This previous tendency of the motive is what I call the strength of the motive. That motive which has a less degree of previous advantage or tendency to move the will, or that appears less inviting, as it stands in the view of the mind, is what I call a weaker motive. On the contrary, that which appears most inviting, and has, by what appears concerning it to the understanding or apprehension, the greatest degree of previous tendency to excite and induce the choice, is what I call the strongest motive. And in this sense, I suppose the will is always determined by the strongest motive.

Things that exist in the view of the mind have their strength, tendency, or advantage to move or excite its will, from many things appertaining to the nature and circumstances of the thing viewed, the nature and circumstances of the mind that views, and the degree and manner of its view; of which it would perhaps be hard to make a perfect enumeration. But so much, I think, may be determined in general, without room for controversy, that whatever is perceived or apprehended by an intelligent and voluntary agent, which has the nature and-influence of a motive to volition or choice, is considered or viewed as good; nor has it any tendency to invite or engage the election of the soul in any further degree than it appears such. For to say otherwise, would be to say, that things that appear have a tendency by the appearance they make, to engage the mind to elect them some other way than by their appearing eligible to it; which is absurd. And, therefore, it must be true, in some sense, that the will always is as the greatest apparent good is; however, for the right understanding of this, two things must be well and distinctly observed:—

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