The next variety of criticism to which I wish to allude is one upon which, at the stage now reached in our argument, there is no need to dwell at length. It is a constant reproach against the Libertarian that he lives in an atmosphere of mystery, invoking incomprehensible and miraculous agencies. It may almost be said that no criticism of 'free will' is complete without its little joke against the 'mysteries' and 'miracles' in which the conception is supposed to be enveloped.
What is the assumption underlying this reproach, and needful to give the reproach the force of a criticism? It is, I suppose, that 'miracles' (meaning by that events which defy the laws of intelligible continuity) cannot happen, since the universe is intelligibly continuous throughout. That the universe is intelligibly continuous is, however, an hypothesis at best - and, if I am right, a false hypothesis. Only the critic who takes it as irrefragable dogma is entitled on his premises to consider as a priori absurd the conception of an agency of a 'miraculous' character. And I think I am not mistaken in crediting to many of the 'miracle' critics metaphysical views of a very much more tentative character.
Free will is mysterious, is a miracle in the sense just alluded to. No attempt should be made by the Libertarian to disguise this aspect of it. But it is perhaps worth while reminding ourselves that it is certainly not 'mysterious' in the sense of being a mere inexplicable 'bolt from the blue,' something that 'comes from nowhere.' So far is this from being so, that there is a true sense in which there is absolutely nothing of whose ultimate source we have such certain knowledge as we have of this creation of which we know our self to be the creator.
This is really all that it seems necessary to say on the objections to free will on the score of its mysteriousness. Truth to tell, many of these objections seem to the present writer fairly to deserve the adjective 'cheap.' The critic makes capital out of the fact that philosophy is an affair of the 'reason,' and plumes himself upon the inexorable logic which saves him from falling a victim to this 'illusion' of an occult force whose operations cannot be understood by the intellect. It does not occur to him that perhaps it would be much more mysterious if the self which knows were capable of being understood after the same manner as the objects which it knows. Much less does he suspect that this very 'reason' which he extols may possibly, if duly interrogated, drive us to the conclusion that reality is 'beyond reason.' These are not matters for crude and hasty dogma, but for the cautious, critical, respectful consideration which the great figures in the history of philosophy have, almost without exception, vouchsafed to them. But our 'scientific' Determinist, blinded by his idolatry of a 'reason' which he has never analysed, smiles in contempt at the very mention of 'mysteries,' and (though, it is fair to add, only half-conscious of the implications of what he is doing) calmly extrudes from the realm even of possibilities that creative self-activity which is an absolutely indispensable condition of the worthwhileness of human existence.