NECESSITY

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NECESSITY; the quality of that which cannot but be, or cannot be otherwise. It is conceived in three different relations: 1. logical necessity, which consists in the circumstance that something cannot be conceived different from what it is, because the contrary is contradictory or absurd. % Physical necessity is that neces sity which arises from the laws of the material universe. The necessary, in this respect, is opposed to the casuaL Every thing in the sensible world has but a conditional necessity: it is necessary from some cause, so that we are led back to the primitive cause,tothe Supreme Being, who is said, therefore, to be the only absolutely necessary, independently existing Being, so that metaphysicians say, with him absolute necessity and liberty are one thing. This will be more easily understood, if we consider more closely the meaning of necessity. In its general application, it presupposes a cause, which forces the thing to be such as it is, while, in this case, its meaning lies in the nonexistence of a cause, and the Supreme Being who exists and acts without a cause, must be supposed to exist and act from necessity. 3. Necessity as to the volition and action of manmoral necessitythe great question, whether liberty of volition and necessity can exist together, and if so, in what manner, is the most intricate point of ethics and philosophy in general, and has been treated of in all ages and in all modes, in reference to morals and religion. In fact, it involves the whole relation of man to God. The Catholic theologians distinguish several kinds of necessity as to the means of salvation: they say baptism is absolutely necessary, because, without it, whether the want of it is owing to the fault of the individual or not, no one can be saved, while a person who cannot possibly receive the eucharist would not be punished, though he would deserve damnation if he should refuse it where he could receive it.