A natural conservatism indisposed Hall at first to take any part in the popular movement of 1848, to which almost all his friends had already adhered; but the moment he was convinced of the inevitability of popular government, he resolutely and sympathetically followed in the new paths.
The higher a man stands on the social ladder, the more people he is connected with and the more power he has over others, the more evident is the predestination and inevitability of his every action.
This inevitability alone can explain how the cruel Arakcheev, who tore out a grenadier's mustache with his own hands, whose weak nerves rendered him unable to face danger, and who was neither an educated man nor a courtier, was able to maintain his powerful position with Alexander, whose own character was chivalrous, noble, and gentle.
Still greater coherence and inevitability is seen in the life of Alexander I, the man who stood at the head of the countermovement from east to west.
For the solution of the question of free will or inevitability, history has this advantage over other branches of knowledge in which the question is dealt with, that for history this question does not refer to the essence of man's free will but its manifestation in the past and under certain conditions.
The degree of freedom and inevitability governing the actions of these people is clearly defined for us.
The proportion of freedom to inevitability decreases and increases according to the point of view from which the action is regarded, but their relation is always one of inverse proportion.
Similarly a man who committed a murder twenty years ago and has since lived peaceably and harmlessly in society seems less guilty and his action more due to the law of inevitability, to someone who considers his action after twenty years have elapsed than to one who examined it the day after it was committed.
The degree of our conception of freedom or inevitability depends in this respect on the greater or lesser lapse of time between the performance of the action and our judgment of it.
If we examined simple actions and had a vast number of such actions under observation, our conception of their inevitability would be still greater.
Thus our conception of free will and inevitability gradually diminishes or increases according to the greater or lesser connection with the external world, the greater or lesser remoteness of time, and the greater or lesser dependence on the causes in relation to which we contemplate a man's life.
So that if we examine the case of a man whose connection with the external world is well known, where the time between the action and its examination is great, and where the causes of the action are most accessible, we get the conception of a maximum of inevitability and a minimum of free will.
If we examine a man little dependent on external conditions, whose action was performed very recently, and the causes of whose action are beyond our ken, we get the conception of a minimum of inevitability and a maximum of freedom.
But even if--imagining a man quite exempt from all influences, examining only his momentary action in the present, unevoked by any cause--we were to admit so infinitely small a remainder of inevitability as equaled zero, we should even then not have arrived at the conception of complete freedom in man, for a being uninfluenced by the external world, standing outside of time and independent of cause, is no longer a man.
And therefore so long as not all the conditions influencing men are defined, there is no complete inevitability but a certain measure of freedom remains.
And so the conception of the action of a man subject solely to the law of inevitability without any element of freedom is just as impossible as the conception of a man's completely free action.
And so to imagine the action of a man entirely subject to the law of inevitability without any freedom, we must assume the knowledge of an infinite number of space relations, an infinitely long period of time, and an infinite series of causes.
In the first case, if inevitability were possible without freedom we should have reached a definition of inevitability by the laws of inevitability itself, that is, a mere form without content.
In the second case, if freedom were possible without inevitability we should have arrived at unconditioned freedom beyond space, time, and cause, which by the fact of its being unconditioned and unlimited would be nothing, or mere content without form.
Inevitability without content is man's reason in its three forms.
Inevitability is what examines.
Inevitability is the form.
All that we know of the life of man is merely a certain relation of free will to inevitability, that is, of consciousness to the laws of reason.
All that we know of the external world of nature is only a certain relation of the forces of nature to inevitability, or of the essence of life to the laws of reason.
So also in history what is known to us we call laws of inevitability, what is unknown we call free will.
Just so it now seems as if we have only to admit the law of inevitability, to destroy the conception of the soul, of good and evil, and all the institutions of state and church that have been built up on those conceptions.