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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

322                  First Principles

for we may jump off the ground and fling ourselves on to a

The fact that both elements are present and are of such
nearly equal value explains the obstinacy of the conflict
between the upholders of Necessity and Free-Will which,
indeed, are only luck and cunning under other names.

For, on the one hand, the surroundings so obviously and
powerfully mould us, body and soul, and even the little
modifying power which at first we seem to have is found, on
examination,  to  spring so  completely from   surroundings
formerly beyond the control of our ancestors, that a logical
thinker, who starts with these premises, is soon driven to the
total denial of free-will, except, of course, as an illusion ; in
other words, he perceives the connection between ego and
non-ego, tries to disunite them so as to know when he is
talking about what, and finds to his surprise that he cannot
do so without violence to one or both.    Being, above all
things, a logical thinker, and abhorring the contradiction in
terms involved in admitting anything to be both itself and
something other than itself at one and the same time, he
makes the manner in which the one is rooted into the other a
pretext for merging the ego, as the less bulky of the two, in
the non-ego; hence practically he declares the ego to have
no further existence, except as a mere appendage and adjunct
of the non-ego the existence of which he alone recognises
(though how he can recognise it without recognising also that
he is recognising it as something foreign to himself it is not
easy to see).   As for the action and interaction that goes on
in the non-ego, he refers it to fate, fortune, chance, luck,
necessity, immutable law, providence (meaning generally im-
providence) or to whatever kindred term he has most fancy
for. _ In other words, he is so much impressed with the con-
nection between luck and cunning, and so anxious to avoid
contradiction in terms, that he tries to abolish cunning, and
dwells, as Mr. Darwin did, almost exclusively upon the luck
side of the matter.

Others, on the other hand, find the ego no less striking
than their opponents find the non-ego. Every hour they
mould things so considerably to their pleasure that, even
though they may for argument's sake admit free-will to be
an illusion, they say with reason that no reality can be more