Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 5.djvu/727

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MENTAL PHYSIOLOGY.
Is it, as some think, the mere resultant of the general (spontaneous or automatic) activity of the mind, and dependent like it upon physical antecedents? Or, is it a power which, being completely independent of these conditions, is capable of acting against the preponderance of motives?—as if, when one scale of a beam is declining downward, a hand placed upon the beam from which the other scale is suspended were to cause that lighter scale to go down. Now, that the will is something essentially different from the general resultant of the automatic activity of the mind, appears to the writer to be proved, not merely by the evidence of our own consciousness of the possession of a self-determining power, but by observation of the striking contrasts which are continually presented in abnormal states of the mind between the automatic activity and the power of volitional control (i. e., in toxic delirium), while the weakening of that power, usually in concurrence with an exaltation of some emotional tendency, is the special characteristic of insanity."

Dr. Carpenter proceeds to show how the will can override reason and judgment, in questions either of intellectual or moral truth, by keeping some considerations out of view and by fixing the attention upon others; so that in this manner the will determines the balance of evidence which commands belief, as it does the balance of evidence which determines conduct. It is, perhaps, superfluous to observe that this self-determining power which rules the senses, guides the opinions, directs the judgment, and controls the conduct of men, which is something essentially different from the general activities of the mind, and is completely independent of physical antecedents, cannot be a physiological, and therefore must be a spiritual power. And this notion agrees with what we have read in other places than Dr. Carpenter's book on Mental Physiology, and where it has caused us less surprise. Granted—we have seen it stated—that perception, memory, emotion, judgment, and all other activities which you more or less successfully demonstrate to be functions of the brain are so in fact, still there is the will. In what ganglion or convolution will you locate that? What influence has the chemistry of the little cells upon that prime motive power? What can change of structure effect there?

It is autocratic, self-dependent, and, excepting in itself and by itself, unchangeable. It is at least a spiritual force with which body has naught to do. It is the heavenly part of man. It is the soul.

The theological bearings of the question will be somewhat out of place in these pages, but it is worth while to remark that the absolute freedom of the will does not fit in with some systems of theology which are tenaciously held by large numbers of Christians.

Let those who think that there can be no morality and no religion, no foundation for human responsibility, and no basis for a moral code, without freedom of the will, read the great work of that grand old Puritan divine, Jonathan Edwards, entitled "A Careful and Strict Enquiry into the Modern Prevailing Notions of that Freedom of the Will which is supposed to be essential to Moral Agency, Virtue and