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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

3*8                 First Principles

charmer away; it is indispensable that we should embrace
both, and embrace them with equal cordiality at the same
time, though each annihilates the other. It is as though it
were indispensable to our existence to be equally dead and
equally alive at one and the same moment.

Here we have an illustration which may help us. For,
after all, we are both dead and alive at one and the same
moment. There is no life without a taint of death and no
death that is not instinct with a residuum of past life and
with germs of the new that is to succeed it. Let those who
deny this show us an example of pure life and pure death.
Any one who has considered these matters will know this to
be impossible. And yet in spite of this, the cases where we
are in doubt whether a thing is to be more fitly called dead
or alive are so few that they may be disregarded.

I take it, then, that as, though alive, we are in part dead
and, though dead, in part alive, so, though bound by necessity,
we are in part free, and, though free, yet in part bound by
necessity. At least I can think of no case of such absolute
necessity in human affairs as that free-will should have no
part in it, nor of such absolute free-will that no part of the
action should be limited and controlled by necessity.

Thus, when a man walks to the gallows, he is under large
necessity, yet he retains much small freedom ; when pinioned,
he is less free, but he can open his eyes and mouth and pray
aloud or no as he pleases ; even when the drop has fallen, so
long as he is " he " at all, he can exercise some, though in-
finitely small, choice.

It may be answered that throughout the foregoing chain
of actions, the freedom, what little there is of it, is apparent
only, and that even in the small freedoms, which are not so
obviously controlled by necessity, the necessity is still present
as effectually as when the man, though apparently free to
walk to the gallows, is in reality bound to do so. For in
respect of the small details of his manner of walking to the
gallows, which compulsion does not so glaringly reach, what
is it that the man is free to do ? He is free to do as he likes,
but he is not free to do as he does not like; and a man's
likings are determined by outside things and by antecedents,
pre-natal and post-natal, whose effect is so powerful that the
individual who makes the choice proves to be only the