The Hand of Darwin: Metaphysical Notebook M, Pages 72-74

The Hand of Darwin: Metaphysical Notebook M, Pages 72-74

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Metaphysical Notebook M, Pages 72-74

(Reprinted with permission of Syndics of Cambridge University Library, DAR 125:72-74)

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With respect to free will, seeing a puppy playing cannot doubt that they have free will, if so all animals., then an oyster has & a polype (& a plant in some senses, perhaps, though from not having pain or pleasure actions unavoidable & only to be changed by habits). now free will of oyster, one can fancy to be direct effect of organization; by the capacities its senses give it of pain or pleasure, if so free will is to mind, what chance is to matter (M. Le Compte)—the free will (if so called) makes change

in bodily organization of oyster. so may free will make change in man.— the real argument fixes on heredetary disposition & instincts—.—Put it so.— Probably some error in argument, should be grateful if it were pointed out.— My wish to improve my temper, what does it arise from but organization, that organization may have been affected by circumstances & education, & by choice which at the time organization gave me to will—Verily the faults of the fathers, corporeal & bodily are visited upon the children.—

The above views would make a man a predestinarian of a new kind, because he would tend to be an atheist.


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has co-authored several books about Charles Darwin, including Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist. He's been researching and teaching Darwin for more than 30 years in Cambridge, England.