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The Problem of Freedom
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Bibliographic Detail
Publisher Createspace Independent Pub
Publication date April 23, 2015
Pages 222
Binding Paperback
Book category Adult Non-Fiction
ISBN-13 9781511863834
ISBN-10 1511863838
Dimensions 0.50 by 6 by 9 in.
Original list price $9.99
Summaries and Reviews description: Product Description: AN AGE LONG CONTROVERSY.

Professor Palmer wishes he were able to conform himself to the precept of that profound and limpid writer, Bishop Berkeley, who bids us "to think with the learned and speak with the vulgar."

The substance of his effort in this direction is embodied in a course of lectures delivered for the Lowell Institute, Boston, and revised in the present volume. Quite aware of the mental confusion that exists on the subject, this later expounder of the Problem of Freedom seeks to evade technicalities and to come down to the single naturalness of language adapted to the untrained mind.

A brief review is given of the arguments of ancient and modern philosophers who have wrangled over the matter of Free Will with an indistinctness that leaves the reader little wiser at the conclusion than at the beginning of the discussion. In view of such unsatisfactory results Prof. Palmer inclines to Henry Sidgwick's opinion, that persons act substantially alike whether they are libertarians or determinists; but as the problem is one to which every generation returns he proceeds to discuss both sides of the opposed doctrines, very generously leaving us to decide for ourselves to which school we give our preference. This is most kind of the Professor. For while we follow his fascinating argument on "The Improbability of Freedom" we do not care to be bullied into feeling that all things are determined for us. And no more when our liberty of action is asserted, are we ready to acknowledge that we are responsible personally for the events of our lives. The Problem of Freedom is far deeper than philosophers and moralists have measured, and no individual is able to solve it for another. This our author nominally admits in his chapter on the "Mysteries of Freedom" when he states his own limitations in declaring himself a libertarian.

"When we approach one of these puzzling matters which have bewildered the ages," he says, "our proper course is first entire frankness and then a serious effort to work out where the center of difficulty lies."

And one of Prof. Palmer's charms is the "entire frankness" with which he treats a subject that really demands superhuman understanding. We may wrestle with its mysteries in an intellectual way, but we find ourselves inevitably running up against unanswerable objections on the plane of human observation.

It appears to us a self-evident truth that the principles of determinism and libertarianism are so subtly interwrought that we may adopt neither without, in a degree, committing ourselves, however unconsciously, to the leadings of the other.

Because Prof. Palmer confesses himself "a moderate idealist" to whom "mind is no accident—but rather the originating and explanatory factor conditioning all," we find his arguments delightful incentives to thought upon a topic so vast that we have no desire, in our little human way, of arriving at definite and dogmatic conclusions.

— The Public, Volume 15 [1912]

Book cover for 9780898753660 Book cover for 9781511863834
The price comparison is for this edition
from Createspace Independent Pub (April 23, 2015)
9781511863834 | details & prices | 222 pages | 6.00 × 9.00 × 0.50 in. | List price $9.99
from Univ Pr of the Pacific (June 1, 2001)
9780898753660 | details & prices | 5.00 × 7.75 × 0.75 in. | 0.55 lbs | List price $17.99
About: The Problem of Freedom results from a course of lectures delivered in 1909 before the Lowell Institute of Boston.

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