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An Examination of President Edwards' Inquiry into the Freedom of the Will
written by "Bledsoe, Albert Taylor, 1809-1877"
...ffect in the true and proper sense of the word. Now does our idea of a volition correspond with this idea of an effect? Is it produced in the mind, and is the mind passive as to its production? Is it, like the motion of a body, the passive result of the action of something else? No. It is not the result of action; it is action itself. The mind is not passive as to its production; it is in and of itself an action of the mind. It is not determined; it is a determination. It is not a produced effect, like the motion of body; it is itself an original producing cause. It does seem to me, that if any man will only reflect on this subject, he must see that there is a clear and manifest difference between an act and an effect. Although the scheme of Edwards identifies these two things, and his argument assumes them to be one and the same; yet his language, it appears to me, frequently betrays the fact, that his consciousness did not work in harmony with his theory. While speaking of the acts of the will as effects, he frequently says, that it is the very idea of an effect that it results from, and is necessarily connected with, the action of its cause, and that it is absurd to suppose that it is free or loose from the influence of its cause. And yet, in reference to volitions, he often uses the expression, “this sort of effects,” as if it did not exactly correspond with the “very idea of an effect,” from which it is absurd to depart in our conceptions. When he gives fair play to consciousness, he speaks of different kinds of effects; and yet, when he returns to his theory and his reasoning, all this seems to vanish; and there remains but one clear, fixed, and definite idea of an effect, and to speak of any thing else as such is absurd. He now and then pays a passing tribute to the power of consciousness, by admitting that the soul exerts its own volitions, that the soul itself acts; but he no sooner comes to the work of argument and ...

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