A Treatise of Human Nature HTML version

PART II.3: Of The Will And Direct Passions
We come now to explain the direct passions, or the impressions, which arise immediately
from good or evil, from pain or pleasure. Of this kind are, desire and aversion, grief and
joy, hope and fear.
Of all the immediate effects of pain and pleasure, there is none more remarkable than the
WILL; and though properly speaking, it be not comprehended among the passions, yet as
the full understanding of its nature and properties, is necessary to the explanation of
them, we shall here make it the subject of our enquiry. I desire it may be observed, that
by the will, I mean nothing but the internal impression we feel and are conscious of,
when we knowingly give rise to any new motion of our body, or new perception of our
mind. This impression, like the preceding ones of pride and humility, love and hatred, it
is impossible to define, and needless to describe any farther; for which reason we shall
cut off all those definitions and distinctions, with which philosophers are wont to perplex
rather than dear up this question; and entering at first upon the subject, shall examine that
long disputed question concerning liberty and necessity; which occurs so naturally in
treating of the will.
It is universally acknowledged, that the operations of external bodies are necessary, and
that in the communication of their motion, in their attraction, and mutual cohesion, there
are nor the least traces of indifference or liberty. Every object is determined by an
absolute fate toa certain degree and direction of irs motion, and can no more depart from
that precise line, in which it moves, than it can convert itself into an angel, or spirit, or
any superior substance. The actions, therefore, of matter are to be regarded as instances
of necessary actions; and whatever is in this respect on the same footing with matter,
must be acknowledged to be necessary. That we may know whether this be the case with
the actions of the mind, we shall begin with examining matter, and considering on what
the idea of a necessity in its operations are founded, and why we conclude one body or
action to be the infallible cause of another.
It has been observed already, that in no single instance the ultimate connexion of any
objects is discoverable, either by our senses or reason, and that we can never penetrate so
far into the essence and construction of bodies, as to perceive the principle, on which
their mutual influence depends. It is their constant union alone, with which we are
acquainted; and it is from the constant union the necessity arises. If objects had nor an
uniform and regular conjunction with each other, we should never arrive at any idea of
cause and effect; and even after all, the necessity, which enters into that idea, is nothing
but a determination of the mind to pass from one object to its usual attendant, and infer
the existence of one from that of the other. Here then are two particulars, which we are to
consider as essential to necessity, viz, the constant union and the inference of the mind;
and wherever we discover these we must acknowledge a necessity. As the actions of
matter have no necessity, but what is derived from these circumstances, and it is not by