|Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916.|
Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
|On the Exercise of the Will|
|By Ralph Cudworth (16171688)|
From Treatise of Free Will
IT cannot be denied but that there are, and may be, many cases in which several objects propounded to our choice at the same time, are so equal, or exactly alike, as that there cannot possibly be any reason or motive in the understanding necessarily to determine the choice to one of them rather than to another of them. As for example, suppose one man should offer to another, out of twenty guinea pieces of gold, or golden balls, or silver globulites, so exactly alike in bigness, figure, colour, and weight, as that he could discern no manner of difference between them, to make his choice of one and no more; add, also, that these guineas or golden balls may be so placed circularly as to be equidistant from the choosers hand. Now it cannot be doubted but that, in this case, any man would certainly choose one, and not stand in suspense or demur because he could not tell which to prefer or choose before another. But if being necessitated by no motive or reason antecedent to choose this rather than that, he must determine himself contingently, or fortuitously, or causelessly, it being all one to him which he took, nor could there be any knowledge ex causis beforehand which of these twenty would certainly be taken. But if you will say, there was some hidden cause, necessarily determinating in this case, then if the trial should be made an hundred times over and over again, or by a hundred several persons, there is no reason why we must not allow that all of them must needs take the same guinea every time, that is either the first, second, or third, etc. of them, as they lie in order from the right or left hand.