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OF CHOICE ; WHAT IT IS, AND WHEREIN IT DIFFERS
FROM VOLITION, OR WILLING.
Chorce is the mind seeing the difference in objects, and one being more pleasing, or agreeable to the mind, than another, or others.
When this difference is perceived, to point out the object most agreeable, or pleasing, we use the verb choose, which is called active ; but then there is no more activity in the mind, when it chooses, than when it sees, hears feels, smells, or tastes; these are also called active verbs, but the mind is passive in the whole; that is, acted upon by objects, by way of the senses.
If two dollars be presented to view, which have equal degrees of apparent goodness, in these the mind can have no choice; because it can see do difference. But suppose one dollar has ten degrees of apparent gooduess, and the other has five;
the mind cannot choose the last dollar, because the first dollar is the more pleasing or agreeable to the mind; the difference is as two to one.
The mind is physically necessitated to choose the dollar of ten degrees of apparent goodness, as much so, as I am to see objects at noon-day with my eyes open. If the mind be passive in seeing; it is in seeing this difference, which is choice. The mind
may also have a choice in ideas-thus, I am requested to make a choice in two kinds of fruit, which I saw, and tasted of, the last week; but the fruit is now absent. By reflection I can call up to the mind's view the appearance of each kind of fruit, its flavour, &c. and compare one with the other, and see their difference-one may appear more pleasing, or agreeable, than the other, therefore, it is chosen. This choice is in the ideas, representing the imperssions, which the fruit made on my mind, when it was present; and the mind in seeing the difference in the ideas, perceives by an internal sense, which perception has nothing of volition in it, for it exists in the understanding. We cannot shew how the mind is passive in this choice ; but it is not active, farther than its volitions extend, in reflection, attention, examen, and
, comparison of the two kinds of fruit; therefore, I
consider the mind passive in this choice, as well as in the choice between the two dollars.
The difference between willing and choosing seems to be this; volition may exist without knowledge in the inind, as in the case of infants, and idiots; but choice cannot be without knowl. edge; the mind must see the difference in things, when it chooses.
The mind can will when it directs its thought to the production of any single action; but it cannot choose without two or more things in its view. The mind must always will in making a comparison of objects; but the choice in them follows the comparison. The mind is active in willing; but it is passive in choosing. Choice exists in the understanding ; but volition is an act of the will. Choica imposes moral necessity; but volition does not.
I would add, that the mind may be aclive in comparing objects, and keeping its attention upon them, and while it is doing this, the mind may be passive in seeing their difference; it may see one is more pleasing, or agreeable than another, or others, which is choice. Choioe being the same as the greater apparent good, has a kind of measure; it may be increased by addition, or diminished by subtraction-say here are two piles of dollars, and the dollars are equally good; in one pile there are twenty, and in the other ten; the apparent goodness
I of the twenty, when compared with the apparent goodness of the ten, is, as two are to one, and in the same proportion is the choice in them. Now the apparent goodness of the two piles respectively may be varied as we please, by subtractivg from the larger pile, and adding to the smaller pile, until the two piles become equal, and then there can be no choice in them. So by subtracting from the lesser pile and adding to the greater, the choice may be increased. But we have no such measure for volition, which is an action of the mind tendiog to the production of an effect, or actually produces one, In the aforesaid supposed cases of adding and subtracting there must be volitions, and to say these mean the same as choice, appears to me to be absurd. In point of numbers, I apprehend, there is no comparison between our volitions, and the instances of our choice. The mind is constantly putting forth volitions, and seldom stops to come to a choice : The mind wills a thing, and it is done, without stopping to compare the doing with the not doing, and coming to a choice, before it wills to do, as some metaphysicians have supposed.
I am sensible that willing and choosing have by most writers, been considered as synonymous
words; but I make a distinction to get at truth, and to speak of things as I find them. By this distinction, I hope to avoid the difficulties, that Mr. Locke, ou the Human Understandmg, and Mr. Edwards, on the Freedom of the Will, have placed in the way of the mind's willing with liberty. In their writings they have considered willing and choosing as synonymous, and because the mind is under a physical necessity to choose, they sometimes seem to infer, that a like nocessity attends the mind in willing.
I am apprehensive, that some may say, if the mind is not free in choosing, it is not free at all. To avoid objections of this sort, I wish to have it carefully noted, in what sense, I use volition, and choice. I believe I use the word, volition, in its vulgar sepse, as representing simply an idea of an action of the mind tending to the production of an effect, or actually producing one. But the word, choice, in its vulgar sense, represents a complex idea made
of volitions of the mind in attention, examen and comparison of two or more objects; and passiveness, in seeing that one object in the comparison is more pleasing, or agreeable to the mind, than the other, or others; I
this is the vulgar sense in which the word, choice, is used, and in this sense the mind is active as well as passive in choioe, and