Such is the statement of the difficulty in its fullest aspect. To remove it, we must premise that a disposition is a mental attribute, occasioning facility in some certain act, without necessity for thought or reflection. An attribute is a quality that is rooted in the mind: as we know in inductive science a condition, if quick to alter, is called state; if slow to alter, attribute. Now the cause of this disposition existing in the mind may be either of two: 1. Character* — where, from original make, a person’s temperament is such that the aptitude for a par­ticular quality is greater than for others; so that he is possessed by that quality on the slightest occa­sion, — as in the dry-hot for anger,* — in the moist-hot for desire, — in the moist-cold for forgetfulness, — in the dry-cold for stupidity, and so on, as explained in treatises of philosophy and medicine. — 2. Habit: when in the outset having willed to accomplish any act, it repeat and practise the same till it is worn and used to the operation; so that the act is per­formed with ease in the absence of reflection, and, in short, becomes a disposition.*

Some think that all the dispositions are characteristic, that is, are constituents of character, and incapable of change; as we have explained in stating the difficulty. Others are of opinion, that some dis­positions are constituent of character, and incapable of change; and others, adscititious and changeable. Others again think that no disposition is either characteristic or contrary to character, but that the mind has absolute power over its own constitution, and that, in both the opposite directions; whether with ease, which is when it is agreeable to tempera­ment; or with difficulty, which is when it contro­verts temperament. Others again hold that in their original constitution men are linked with good; acquiring evil qualities and becoming wicked only by the gratification of their desires and the prosecution of gain. This opinion also was reversed by that of an ancient school,* who maintained that men, in their original constitution, were formed of an imper­fect character — the soul in its own essence being of light mixed with darkness; so that evil is implanted in its elementary material, and good it only admits by the intervention of instruction and discipline; and this, provided the evil portion be not in excess, and the dark prevail not over the light element. Galen’s opinion is, that some by character are good men, and some by character bad men, and some capable of both; which opinion of his own he thus demonstrates. If all human individuals were physi­cally good, and evil be only an accident, still, that evil which is in them they must necessarily derive either from themselves or from others. In the first case, there must be in them some power necessitating evil; that is, they are not good in original character; for this would be contradictory: or if there were in them both a power to good and a power to evil predominating over it, the same repugnance fol­lows to the proposition. In the second case, that of evil being derived from others, the same contra­diction follows; for those others must be physically bad: man therefore cannot be entirely good. Pre­cisely the same argument he applies to disprove the proposition of their being all bad; and after mas­tering these two points, he goes on to say — With ocular demonstration, I can perceive that the character of some men compels them to good, nor can they in any way depart therefrom; and these are few; and the character of others compels them to evil, neither can they in any way admit the good; and these are many: the remainder are interme­diaries; good in the society of the good, and bad in the company of the bad. Such is the demonstration of Galen, as adduced in the Akhlāk-i-Nāsiry* — the subtlety of which, however, will not escape an intelligent mind. For, according to the principles of his philosophy,* no determinate origin can be assigned to human individuals: in which case the incidence of evil in every individual instance might be from others, and so on, till its primary origin is never fixed upon any individual who is to be con­sidered bad in his own nature: for the connexion of causes is maintained unbroken; and this not supposititious, but actually in operation. And so of the second division, where the incidence of good might be accounted for in the same manner.

It has been suggested as probable by Shaikh Abú Seenā in his Shafā,* that in consequence of elementary convulsions* occurring at the great cycles,* or of collapse, or something approaching to collapse, of the zones,* (supposing it to occur), or of intersub­stitution of the heights and depths, &c. &c.,* those parts of the earth which admit of being populated and inhabited by living creatures (that is, the parts contiguous to the equator,)* may remain till a determinate juncture overwhelmed by sea, and the earth consist only of parts so swallowed, and an expanse unfit for habitation by reason of excessive obliquity;* and in such case animals and vegetables may be destroyed, and may afterwards originate by spontaneous production,* and not by generation. For there is nothing to discredit the possibility of these species being spontaneously produced; since in many other species it is matter of ocular demon­stration, that they do originate as well spontane­ously as by generation; as certain worms that are producible from human hair* — scorpions from exha­lations — field-mice and sundry herbs from mould — frogs from rain, &c. Neither does it follow that because of others the spontaneous production does not take place during long intervals, that it should not take place at all; for it may depend upon a determinate juncture occurring only after such inter­vals. The probability is, indeed, that universal epochs of this nature do occur to the world, and that the great resurrection is such an one. Nay, as succession and generation are dependent on voluntary acts, such as coition, and not on irresistible tendencies, man must necessarily be provided with a capacity for spontaneous production to prevent the possibility of interruption to the species; for it is not absolutely certain that every individual will leave issue, nor therefore that any will. He then goes on to say, if any one will reflect on the principles of arts and sciences, he will perceive that they are all innovations ascribable to the reflection of a particular person; the proof of their novelty being in this, that they are all in daily process of improve­ment; which quality of theirs he urges in proof of the human race recommencing after succession by generation has been interrupted. For many of the sciences are of such sort as could only be originated by peculiarly favoured persons, or by divine sugges­tion, exceeding the established bounds. The person that invented them, therefore, must clearly have been independent of them in his own behoof, and must have originated such inventions for the sake of others his fellow-creatures.* So far our Shaikh; — and in this view, the argument of Galen is deserving of consideration; though, after all, signs of contra­diction may be found in it, and ample scope for dif­fering remains.

The modern school of philosophers incline to the opinion, that no disposition is either characteristic or contrary to character; because, as there is no disposition but admits of alteration, and no disposi­tion admitting of alteration can be characteristic, it follows that there can be no characteristic disposi­tion.* A minor proof is that we see by ocular demonstration, that men acquire virtues or vices according as they keep company with good or bad: as in forming the behaviour of children, particularly such as may be kidnapped and carried from place to place, it is clear that discipline has immense influence on them; and that, with greater or less ease, according to their ability, they take up the dispositions of those about them. Indeed, were dis­positions incapable of change, the faculty of discrimination and reflection would be utterly useless; discipline and punishment would be criminal, and the laws of institute and ceremonial void. And then Aristotle’s opinion was,* that the bad, by instruc­tion and discipline, may be rendered good. That nothing really characteristic admits of change is clear; for it cannot be questioned that nothing can alter the character of fluid, so that on the removal of obstacles it tend not downwards; nor the character of fire from the opposite of this. The asser­tion is indeed absurd, and these illustrations are adduced to show its tendency.

Such and so put is the argument in the Akhlāk-i-Nāsiry, which, likewise, as any proficient in obser­vative philosophy will perceive, is open to con­troversy. For as to that association which he cites, in congenial instances however certain it may be, from ocular evidence, that dispositions are altered, it is equally so that certain dispositions in other persons are entirely unalterable, and particularly in regard to the perfections of the observative faculty; such as induction, retention, facility of comprehension, and the like. We may see that some persons, however much they may labour after them, effect nothing whatever; which is the case with most students in our own time.* On the strength then of this argument only, how can we affirm that no disposition is characteristic, and all dispositions are capable of change? In short, to admit it invariably is out of the question; and to admit it partially would be of little use; and then what they allege as to the absurdity of the opposite inference, and the adduction of instances to show it — with respect to the discriminative faculty being contravened and suspended, discipline and castiga­tion being abandoned, and their nullification follow­ing the notion that no disposition admits of change, — all this is on a par with asserting that the science of medicine is nugatory, if every ailment admit not of cure: that the assertion is nugatory, there can be no doubt.

On the whole we may conclude, as Aristotle long ago affirmed, that the bad may become good by discipline and correction: and although this influence be not a paramount one, yet by repetition of the means some effect must follow on the object; and if the evil in them be not altogether extinguished, it will at least be diminished. We find then, that in order to establish the advantages of this science, it is not necessary to assert that all dispositions are capable of change; it is sufficient if there be any yielding of disposition generally among mankind: just as in the science of medicine, any refusal to yield, if it occur, must be in rare dispositions and rare instances. And similarly the benefit of this science to mankind in general is evident from its tendency to diminish the amount of evil. In no wise then does it involve any supercession of the penalties and restraints of the institute; because the inutility of remedy to one ailment or one person is no opprobrium to the science of medicine at large. If they say that on this showing there is no ground for troubling every person for the alteration of every culpable disposition, since possibly the particular disposition in the particular person may be incapable of change, I answer that, till the refusal to admit alteration be ascertained, it is the dictate of reason and religion to endeavour its alteration. In fact, we are told as much in the words, symbolic of truth, of the Prince of Men,* when he says, — Strive ye; for every one may attain to that for which he was constituted.*

That the reasoning of most writers in this science has been grounded on an assumption,* must have been apparent in the course of this discussion. In another place this will be more clearly stated,* together with an apology for the practice of such assumptions — always under reference to the will of Almighty God,* with whom rests all protection and all grace!