Sianism, and from other suggestions of the past, developed that great system of determinist pantheism which was a scandal and a terror to his generation.
In ethics, he is a hard determinist and hedonist, though not without qualifications (man's boundless desire for "gain and glory") and peculiarities.
The book contains an intellectualist, static, determinist, abstractive trend.
His brief Inquiry Concerning Human Liberty (1715) has not been excelled, at all events in its main outlines, as a statement of the determinist standpoint.
Though the term "autonomy" in its fullest sense implies entire freedom from causal necessity, it can also be used even in determinist theories for relative independence of particular conditions, theological or conventional.
The determinist equally with the libertarian moral philosopher can give an account of morality possessing internal coherence and a certain degree of verisimilitude.
Spinoza is a convinced determinist regarding the will as necessarily determined by ideas.
Moreover, much of the apparent cogency of modern scientific determinist arguments has been derived from the unguarded admissions or timorous acquiescence of their opponents.
As regards the first of these two main contentions, it must suffice here to point out the main difficulties in which a determinist and especially materialist account of the relation between consciousness and the organic processes which accompany it appears to be involved.
The determinist presuppositions of psy chology (determinist because they involve the applica tion of the causal conceptions of modern science to mental phenomena) have in many instances in no way retarded the utilization of new information concerning mental processes in order to prove the reality of freedom.
It is comparatively unimportant to the determinist whether the cause to which he attributes conduct be the self, or the will, or character, or the strongest motive, provided that each of these causes be regarded as definitely ascertainable and that its effects in sufficiently known circumstances be calculable.
That the determinist theory alone provides a rational basis for state activity of whatever kind.
For the very argument from the undeveloped possibilities of each man's character by which the determinist proves the compatibility of his theory with the phenomenon of sudden conversion and the like is sufficient also to prove that the state can never be sure that the punishments which it inflicts upon the individual will have the effect upon his character and conduct which it desires.
It is this immediate consciousness of the power of choosing between alternatives which the determinist finds so difficult to explain.
Is it possible to hold that determinist arguments are of so convincing a character as to enable us to perceive at the moment of action the untrustworthy nature of our consciousness that we are free to choose between alternatives and to grasp beneath the appearance the underlying necessity which rules our wills ?
And until the determinist can successfully explain to us how in a world obeying throughout its history necessary laws and limited in its nature to the exhibition of causal sequences the consciousness of freedom could ever have arisen, we may be content to trust the immediate affirmation of our moral selves.