"He could foresee them but in two ways; by conjecture, which is irreconcileable with infinite foreknowledge; or otherwise he must see them as necessary effects, which infallibly follow a cause which produces them as infallibly; for the soul must be free upon this supposition; and yet in the act, she would be no more so than one billiard ball is free to lie still when it is pushed by another."

— Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu (1689-1755)


Date
1721, 1722
Metaphor
"He could foresee them but in two ways; by conjecture, which is irreconcileable with infinite foreknowledge; or otherwise he must see them as necessary effects, which infallibly follow a cause which produces them as infallibly; for the soul must be free upon this supposition; and yet in the act, she would be no more so than one billiard ball is free to lie still when it is pushed by another."
Metaphor in Context
How then can God foresee those things which depend upon the determination of free agents? He could foresee them but in two ways; by conjecture, which is irreconcileable with infinite foreknowledge; or otherwise he must see them as necessary effects, which infallibly follow a cause which produces them as infallibly; for the soul must be free upon this supposition; and yet in the act, she would be no more so than one billiard ball is free to lie still when it is pushed by another.

[Comment Dieu pourroit-il prévoir les choses qui dépendent de la détermination des causes libres? Il ne pourroit les voir que de deux manières: par conjecture, ce qui est contradictoire avec la prescience infinie; ou bien il les verroit comme des effets nécessaires qui suivroient infailliblement d'une cause qui les produiroit de même, ce qui est encore plus contradictoire: car l'âme seroit libre par la supposition; et, dans le fait, elle ne le seroit pas plus qu'une boule de billard n'est libre de se remuer, lorsqu'elle est poussée par une autre.]
(Letter LXIX, Usbek to Rhedi, at Venice.)
Provenance
Searching at OLL
Citation
The earliest English-language issue is Persian Letters, trans. John Ozell, 2 vols. (London: Printed for J. Tonson, 1722). <Link to ECCO>

12 entries in the ESTC for this title (1722, 1730, 1731, 1736, 1751, 1759, 1760, 1762, 1767, 1773, 1775). Searching The Complete Works of M. de Montesquieu, 4 vols. (London: T. Evans, 1777) at Online Library of Liberty <Link to OLL>. French text from Project Gutenberg.

Date of Entry
08/09/2013

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.