Freedom of mind in willing; or, Every being that wills a creative first cause by Rowland Gibson Hazard

Freedom of mind in willing; or, Every being that wills a creative first cause by Rowland Gibson Hazard (1864)

Freedom of mind in willing


The public mind is at present so engrossed with other pursuits, and so satisfied with its progress in them, that there is little room to hope that it will bestow much attention upon the subject of this volume. Physical Science and Material Progress are now the absorbing objects of effort. To these, all utility is ascribed, to the exclusion of the Metaphysical, which lies under the imputation of being both uninteresting and useless.

Why this opprobrium and whence the general neglect, the absolute indisposition, to inquire into the structure and conditions of our spiritual being, which, as the source of all our power and all our enjoyments, one might naturally suppose would most interest us, and at the same time, by its mystery, most excite our curiosity? That the discoveries in Physics, so varied and so magnificent, have largely contributed to our material comforts, have feasted the intellect and even regaled the imagination, is undoubtedly one cause of this neglect of the science of mind.

The reason of its being neglected lies not so much in its want of attraction, as in the prevailing idea of its inutility; and this idea, though now magnified by temporary causes, has a foundation in the fact, that no investigation of the nature of our faculties and powers, mental or physical, is essential to that use of them which our early existence demands. For this, we have the requisite knowledge by intuition. We can use our powers without studying either Anatomy or Metaphysics. It is not, then, surprising that we should early direct our attention to the study of those extrinsic substances and phenomena of which more knowledge is obviously and immediately useful. • The want of satisfactory results has also had its influence; and perhaps there is no question, the discussion of which has tended more to bring upon Metaphysics the reproach of being unfruitful, than that of the " Freedom of the Will." The importance of removing this grand obstruction to the progress of ethics and theology is appreciated only by those who in their researches have encountered it. They alone have caught glimpses of the radiant fields of speculation which lies beyond; and most men regard the speculations upon it, not only as having furnished no new truth but as having obscured what was before known.

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